The importance of connecting with potential Saab customers

This is a story I received from a dealer in the US a few days ago. The SU mention is nice, but it’s not why I’m reproducing it here.

This story goes to show the untapped potential out there, the connections that lie dormant, under the surface. Saab need to make those connections. As a blogger, I’m happy to help if it helps the company, but the bigger question remains: What can Saab do to reach these people?

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Those of us in the Saab community know that we have lost a lot of potential sales in the past decade due to stale product, or the wrong product offerings. We also lost many loyal Saab owners to whom we could not deliver the product they wanted and they have ended up with something else in their driveway.

Some left for AWD when we had nothing. Some left for SUVs during their initial heyday. Many have left for hybrid cars, even if the hybrid powertrain is attached to a vastly inferior automobile. The question is—can we ever hope to win these people back?

Based on a conversation I had the other night, maybe we can.

A nice neighbor was throwing a farewell party for me and my wife and as I milled around having conversations, I noted that the guy across the street was wearing a KTM cap, so I asked him about the motorcycle he rode. Very quickly he turned the conversation to Saab, and not the typical “Is Saab still in business…..Some guy named Stryker [sic] bought ‘em, right?….you’re going out of business soon, aren’t you?…..” kind of questions. No, he wanted to know what I thought of the Jason Castriota appointment.

That’s curious, I thought, that he’d be right down with the latest appointment to the company. Then he mentioned Mr. Wade’s appearance at SCD and how fabulous that was. At that point, I had to ask him how he was so dialed-in, and why.

He had called me a while back looking for information on TurboX, so I knew he was something of an automobile enthusiast. But in my three years living across the street from him, there has only been a pickup and an Audi A4 wagon in the driveway.

He went on to explain that he had had a number of Saabs in the 1990’s and early 2000s, a 9-5 wagon, a 9000 Aero and 9000CSE if not more. He gave up on Saab because of his inability to get up his driveway even with snow tires, so he switched to Audi, but he desperately wants to be a Saab owner again. He got much of his Saab news from SaabsUnited, and he said we visited the site every day. Imagine that—guy drives an Audi and has for years and he reads SU EVERY DAY.

This is extraordinary. It is also very telling.

We’ve got a number of closet Saab enthusiasts out there who we need to connect with and stay connected to, so that as we bring out product that addresses the deficiencies those owners saw in Saab’s earlier offerings disappear, we can make them Saab owners once more.

In the case of this gentleman, he’d like the 9-5 with a 2.0, XWD and six-speed. Can’t have it. At least not yet. But he’s looking for a time when he can and then he wants to come home.

These former owners, and I’ve met countless of them who’ve said, “I used to have a Saab. I loved that car. But….”, need to be invited back in the fold.

Our current customers are easy to take care of. Pure conquest sales are virtually impossible. But these former Saab owners who wandered off the reservation—we have to fight for their hearts and minds.

I believe they are vital in securing Saab’s future.

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