Are 25% of Your Showroom Customers Being Ignored?

by Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales 17. April 2012 10:27

What would happen if four customers walked into your dealership but only three salespeople were available to help? Would the fourth customer be ignored and told to come back another time? Or would a manager, or someone else, step in to help? One thing’s for sure: if nobody stepped in to help, you would lose a potential sale. And if this happened repeatedly, well, I wouldn’t want to be in that sales meeting.

Of course, you’re probably thinking that the likelihood of this happening in your dealership is slim. Yet it does happen in most dealerships every day. The only difference is the customers are currently Internet leads in your CRM and not in your showroom.

Not the same, you insist? Think again.

The results of Pied Piper’s recent 2012 Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) study indicates that nearly 25%, or 1 in 4 customers, who submit Internet leads are not contacted by the dealership within 24 hours. Another 16% of inquiries received only a simple automated response, followed up by a personal e-mail from a salesperson.

The best-performing brands in the Pied Piper study were Lexus, Infiniti and Acura. According to Pied Piper CEO Fran O’Hagan, these brands performed the best because they have processes in place to ensure that Internet leads are handled properly.

I’m betting that, if I asked you if your dealership had a documented Internet sales process, you would say “Yes, absolutely.” Yet the study proves that these processes are not always being followed. Sales Managers can see when a salesperson drops a customer on the lot without a T.O., or skips from the Meet and Greet to the Write Up without stopping to build rapport or land the customer in the right vehicle. It’s a little harder—but not much—to see what steps are and are not being followed in your Internet process.

If you want to improve your sales performance, improve your Internet lead response with the following steps:

1) Ensure your written processes are being followed. Hold salespeople and managers accountable for the e-mails, phone calls and follow up required to turn Internet leads into showroom visits. Regular meetings with the manager are the best way to accomplish this.

2) T.O. every lead, just as you would a showroom customer. Don’t let salespeople close out Internet leads in the CRM. Require that a manager review each lead and then close it out for the salesperson. Have the manager send out an e-mail to every lead that is closed out asking about their experience and asking them why they didn’t buy. You might be very surprised at how many customers will say they were never contacted.

3) Consider a technology like an automated virtual assistant that can engage and re-engage a large volume of Internet leads. The assistant passes hot leads to the salespeople so they can focus on phone calls and setting appointments with in-market customers.

How do you ensure that processes, both in the showroom and in the Internet department, are being followed?

New Technology for Better Lead Follow Up

by Admin 27. March 2012 08:31
Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales at AutoUSA, discusses how to use the latest technology to follow up on leads.

Tags:

Automated Virtual Assistant (AVA) | Internet leads

Prepare for Increased Internet Leads in 2012

by Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales 7. March 2012 07:32

Urban Science recently analyzed its lead management data and, according to these recent articles in the Sacramento Bee and by CBS Detroit, is offering several rosy projections for auto dealers in 2012:

 

  • A projected Seasonal Annual Adjusted Rate (SAAR) for vehicle sales of 13.95 million; and according to this report by Automotive News, J.D. Power & Associates estimates annual sales will surpass 14 million.
  • Internet lead volume will increase by as much as 10-20%, with the average dealer getting 85 leads per brand per month, up from 75 leads in 2011.
  • Much of that growth will come from third party web sites, like KBB.com, Cars.com, Edmunds.com and other sites
  • An estimated 30% of OEM retail sales originate from Internet leads.

That’s the good news, but here are the challenges involved:

 

  • More than 30% of customers submit a request to at least two dealers, increasing competition for dealers
  •  30% of dealers still don’t quote prices online to buyers, which could be costing them business

Increased competition means that dealers have to respond to leads not only quickly, but with a quality message. According to Urban Science's best practices for lead management, dealers should include the following critical elements in their online customer responses: responding quickly, quoting a price, providing alternative vehicles in a similar price range, confirming that the vehicle requested is available in a range of offerings and that the dealer offers the customer next steps – such as coming in for a test drive.

 

I would add these four best practices to that list:


1) Persistent follow up. Not everybody who submits leads buys within 30 days. Continue to follow up over at least 90 days and have a long-term follow-up plan in place. If your lead volume overwhelms your follow-up capacity, consider a technology solution that focuses on lead re-engagement.


2) Manage lead volume. No more than 80-100 leads per month for an experienced salesperson. If your current sales staff is overwhelmed, consider a technology such as an Automated Virtual Assistant that can engage with thousands of leads every month and has been proven to raise closing rates from the average 6-12% up to 28%.

 


3) Management involvement & accountability: The more the GM is involved in the process, the more successful it will be. Every week the GM should review the metrics with the Internet department. How many leads did we get? How many are open? How many calls have been made? How many appointments set? Accountability breeds responsibility.


4) Manager confirmed appointments. Customers feel special if they are contacted by the manager and offered a warm welcome, increasing their likelihood of showing.

 

How is your Internet department preparing for the increased lead volume? What best practices are you implementing to stay competitive?

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