Lost! Bought Elsewhere

Famous last words from the customer to help you be better next time. What value are you actually getting from a customer who bought a vehicle at another dealership? I say very little because at this point they are venting or pointing out where you failed in your sales process, but the truth is despite your best efforts to improve moving forward if your not acting on this information then you are missing a huge part of the next sale.

At this point the customer is probably a lot more honest about the whole ordeal now that the buying pressure has been lifted. I used to manage the new car department at Londonderry Dodge and one of the most common reasons for a customer buying elsewhere were

1.) Price

2.) Selection.


1.) Price- This is almost impossible to overcome after the fact, but you could make sure your manager is involved in the sale at a earlier stage to ensure the price is controlled from the manager which will hold more value to the customer usually. I mean when I go shopping I honestly feel like I am getting the better deal by speaking or dealing directly with the manager.

2.) Selection- This is the easy one of the two too overcome with customer's but once again a very difficult feat after the fact. Usually a customer becomes set on a certain color or cluster of option in a specific vehicle. The best remedy for this is great product knowledge, if your sales staff are trained on the inventory in stock properly they often will easily come up with an alternative option for your customer.


Internet sales has really changed the way we sell cars, and will increase even more in the near future. If your not solid in your process and sales follow-up you will be seen as prehistoric as a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

What are some of your thoughts on decreasing the number of email responses you get from your customer's that say, "Lost, bought elsewhere"?

I am interested in your response.


Below is a great video example on how to handle a lost bought elsewhere customer.

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Comment by Mike Blackmore on June 27, 2013 at 1:13pm

Great feedback Roger, man next time I will leave the video out, it seemed to created a lot of controversy.

The end game for every dealer is to sell more cars and the lost bought elsewhere serves as a great learning tool for the next sale, whether it be via referral, be back or service customer.

Thanks everybody for their feedback.

Comment by Roger Sowers on June 27, 2013 at 11:51am

We have all heard those words at one time or another. I see nothing wrong with attempting to salvage something from the lost sale. There are three main reasons we hear lost bought elsewhere. The man, the money or the machine. If they bought a competitors product did we fail to create sufficient value in our product? If it was the money where and by how much did we lose? If it was the man and this is often the hardest to uncover yet it is the most common cause what could have been done or undone?

The video demonstrates that the young lady on the phone had no plan ready to deal with the customer. Her body language clearly depicts someone who was in a situation they did not feel comfortable with. You must understand that her body language still speaks even on the phone. The solution does not lie in giving her stuff to give away but in focused training to create confidence and establish clear objectives.

Selling is relationship building. People buy from people they like and trust. If they bought elsewhere we failed to create the relationship necessary for them to buy from us. When a customer walks on the lot he has an objective in mind. He wants to buy a car. Our objective is to sell him the car he wants. Yet we manage to fail to allow the buyer to reach his objective. We enter into the transaction as an adversary instead of an ally.

Those who build a relationship with the buyer may still encounter the lost bought elsewhere and they might salvage some prospect referrals or service opportunities. In some respects it is still as much fun as picking peanuts out of elephant droppings but it can serve to motivate better performance to reduce the need to hear lost bought elsewhere.     

Comment by MANNY LUNA on June 27, 2013 at 2:06am

Mike Paradies I'm 100% with you on this one, asking for referrals on the first point of contact in a basic rule of thumb weather it be on the phone or on the lot.

Always have the car they are looking for if it's a used car and that's means to sell the appointment. Once the clients comes in and we don't have it on the lot I would go online with them and pick out three cars they like and call on the owner or dealer to buy the car at wholesale. The customers would think of us (Dealer) as the best thing since sliced bread.   

Good selling everyone!

Comment by Mike Paradies on June 26, 2013 at 11:10am

Daniel: My best bird dog ever was a customer that "bought elsewhere". Long story short, he respected my honesty and ethics and so when I called and asked for referrals he was happy to assist. This fellow happened to be a well known barber in our community and for 5 referral sales a month I paid his $250 a month car payment to FMC. This continued for a year and a half until he retired and moved to Florida. Boy am I glad I "swallowed my pride" on that one. The point is that people buy elsewhere for many reasons but any true 20+/mn salesperson will tell you that you need to ask everyone you meet for referrals. 

Mike: Sorry again to flaming other members but the fact remains that the video example that you chose was inappropriate in many ways and you need to take responsibility for your blogs whether you created all of the material or reuse someone else's.  

Video is a tremendous tool for training when used correctly in a role playing process. I use it often in just that format.This example video was more in the line of reality tv and the training message was not completely appropriate in my opinion. How would you feel as a phone specialist if people were to stuff a camera in your face while you are making live calls and than distribute them on youtube? I stated how I feel in my earlier comment which frankly was good, solid and usable information. Your bog's point was to learn from your disappointments which is also valid. Although we need to consider that a large percentage of the people who bought elsewhere have no problem with the salesperson, the store, the product or even the price. They just preferred another vehicle or deal. If 80% (National average) "Buy Elsewhere" I suggest that it is a great idea to go the extra mile and ask them for a referral. That's real pride and professionalism. And that's going to help salespeople sell more cars.

Comment by Mike Paradies on June 25, 2013 at 3:41pm

I want to apologize if I have ruffled feathers. My concern is that we are continuously offering salespeople a  fluffy way out instead of advocating proven practices that will help people sell more cars. Shopping the household and asking for referrals sells more cars. If you are embarrassed to ask someone for a referral than you need to revisit your selling process because even if they "bought elsewhere" they should still appreciate you enough to want to help you out. It doesn't hurt to ask and I would much rather work with a referral than "the next up".

Comment by Mike Blackmore on June 25, 2013 at 3:39pm

Who are you referring to with your comment Mike? Unless it provides value to the discussion please refrain from flaming other members, thank you.

Comment by Mike Paradies on June 25, 2013 at 3:35pm

Spoken like a true 10 car a month salesperson.

Comment by Bill Cosgrove on June 25, 2013 at 1:57pm

You can always learn from a sale that was lost. But depending on your closing ratio you cannot get bogged down. If your closing ratio is above average you move on. If it is below average you need to get back to basics and figure out where you are going wrong.

Commissioned sales is not for everyone but like anything in life if you want it bad enough you will find a way to succeed.

Comment by Daniel Tegeder on June 25, 2013 at 11:07am

The fact remains that they bought elsewhere and the customer must have liked the process or the salesperson better at the other dealership.  Here lies the issue at hand and the moment of learning begins.  A salesperson will not sell them proven fact.  Management must remember what is was like to be a salesperson and not loose perspective as a manager, to ask them to swallow their pride and ask the customer for a referral seems crazy.  Why not just say congrats and focus on another customer and the ones you have already sold and not the ones that got away.

Comment by Mike Blackmore on June 25, 2013 at 9:41am

This post was an after the fact perspective, meaning the customer responded to an automated email that goes out when a customer is marked "lost" in a CRM so there is no worrying about if they purchased or not because the customer is responding to the email explaining why they bought elsewhere.

Mike, I just put the video up as an example I never made the video nor was the video shot by me or at any of my dealers.

I appreciate the feedback some good points made, however the laws in Canada are much different for bird dogs and such.

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