In a down market, Morrie’s Brooklyn Park Subaru experienced a considerable decline in lead volume from April to June of 2017. In addition to a large drop off in leads, their lost sales and defection rates were significantly higher than the national sales trends. They needed a solution to identify the source of all lost sales and a strategy to reduce the rate of defection to other dealers, while growing their market share in surrounding zip codes.
When handling Internet leads, the lack of response by customers, the appointments that don’t show and the unrealistic expectations often frustrate internet managers and dealers. Show and closing rates in the low to mid-teens is not uncommon, compared to the total number of leads received.
I thought I would share some best practices from my observations working both in and with dealerships, that can be used to increase the number of customers contacted that actually visit the dealership.
1. Respond promptly – One of the most common setups in Internet departments is to have Internet sales managers (ISM) also serve in sales positions. A typical pay plan will see an ISM compensated by sales commissions, so that is where there focus will be. Therefore, when a customer comes in for an appointment Internet leads get ignored until the ISM is done with their customer. Which, in the event of a sale, could mean that the leads coming into the CRM are ignored for hours. A quick lead response exponentially increases the chance of contacting and further interesting the customer.
2. Provide Information – ISMs typically use templates to contact customers once a lead is received, which usually contain information about the dealership and its value proposition, along with an invitation to visit. However, far too often the first e-mail fails to contain the one thing that the customer is expecting – vehicle pricing. It’s important to consider the source of the lead when responding. In most cases, the conversion occurred because the customer was prompted to fill out a form to get the price. If you fail to give the price, customers can perceive your dealership as unhelpful and move on to your competition.
3. Be agreeable – We all know that some customers tend to have unrealistic expectations when requesting pricing or payment information. It’s not uncommon to find ISMs engaging the customers with reasons NOT to buy. For example, a lead comes in with a customer wanting an unrealistic payment or price. Rather than inviting the customer in to work numbers, the ISM will explain that the requested price or payment isn’t possible. Always remember that sales are a numbers game. With the proper deal structure, a payment can be as low as any customer wants it.
4. Be consultative – Many times the vehicle that the customer requested pricing for isn’t the one they end up purchasing. Always remember that customers are looking for information and assistance. Failing to provide information puts the salesperson in an adversarial position to the customer. It’s much easier to build rapport and get the customer into the dealership if the customer feels that you are sincerely trying to assist them in finding the right vehicle.
5. Sell the appointment – When dealing with Internet leads, ISMs will all too often try to sell the car via email or the phone. The key to increasing show rates is to remember that the goal is to get the appointment, NOT to sell the car. Using sales skills and techniques focused on selling the appointment rather than working a deal can help increase appointments set and your show rate.
6. Go above and beyond – When a customer requests information, always give them more than they asked for. If you are offering vehicle pricing, try including an example payment. If the customer requested information about a new vehicle, include several trim levels in your response. If they are interested in a used vehicle, you may try including some alternate vehicles in your response as well. By providing more information than requested, the customer will understand that you are truly trying to assist them and therefore more likely to choose to do business with you.
7. Make them feel special/personalize – There’s a reason why many dealers are adopting video in their email responses. If a customer wants information about the condition of a used vehicle, it’s very simple to record a personal walkaround for the customer while mentioning their name. Personalized video responses are valuable for building rapport and help put a face with a name. It’s also much easier than taking 10 pictures of a vehicle and trying to email them to the customer.
8. Consistent follow up – It’s very easy to understand why ISMs get frustrated trying to contact customers who submitted leads, but are then unresponsive. After days or weeks of emails and phone calls, many salespeople tend to give up on the customer and move on. Keep in mind that chances are the customer is being contacted by other dealers as well. And, those dealers have ISMs who are getting just as frustrated. By not giving up on the customer and continuing to follow up, you could well be the only dealership left doing so. This exponentially increases the chance that the customer responds and ultimately ends up in your showroom.
Regardless of whether your Internet department consists of commission based ISMs, or if it has a full-blown BDC, the right processes, personalized responses and attention paid to detail, rather than simply shooting off boring sterile templates, will show your customers that you are there to help. Consider adopting these techniques into your Internet lead process. I hope that you are able to contact more customers, make more appointments and see more of them show, resulting in more sales.
The Higher Gear Group and HookLogic have partnered together to benefit their mutual dealership customers, building a CRM integration that allows leads to flow into HookLogic's Lead2Show solution. When a Higher Gear CRM dealer signs up for Lead2Show, Higher Gear will automatically funnel all internet leads into HookLogic's funnel, powered by Polk, Dataium, and CallSource. Lead2Show takes leads that a dealership purchases or receive from providers, finds the highest intent to buy customers, and then uses the industries best data to drive these hand raising customers right into the showroom. Partnering with The Higher Gear Group allows HookLogic dealers to leverage their current vendors to make a better product and process for their dealership employees, without any additional costs. This plays directly into HookLogic's industry-wide initiative of opening up API access to make life and business easier for our dealership clients. Much like Apple's approach to 3rd party apps on an iPhone, HookLogic wants to work with other vendors for the greater good of the customer. The Higher Gear Group shares this vision.
Current Higher Gear Group and HookLogic customers can take advantage of this free integration immediately. If you are interested in more information, please feel free to contact a HookLogic team member.
As the New Year approaches, we continue to make great enhancements to the entire AutoHook Product Suite. One of the products that I am the most proud of is Lead2Show. If you aren't familiar with it, Lead2Show is an award-winning solution that takes leads that you purchase or receive and pinpoints the highest intent to buy customers. The industries best data providers are then utilized to drive these hand-raising customers right into your showroom. As a dealer, you receive leads from all around your dealership. Lead2Show allows dealers like you to go after specific groups of high-closing leads by using geo-targeting and “big data.” The end result is a higher show rate into the dealership and a higher close rate on your existing leads. When leads come into your CRM system, you will continue to follow up as you do today. Lead2Show is automated with specific filters and execution orders that take place behind the scenes.
Here are just a few of the enhancements we've made to Lead2Show that are sure to ring in a very happy new year for dealers, based on their specific goals:
- You want to target your competitor’s backyard. Have you ever looked at your market share report and noticed that although you get leads in your competitor’s market area, those customers don’t buy from you? Lead2Show will help change the behavior of those customers, giving them a reason to drive past your competitor and give you and your sales team an opportunity.
- A competitor that is farther from you is still taking share from your dealership. Lead2Show will target those leads differently, raising the stakes for the customer, and drive them into your dealership. Some of our most successful dealers see their closing rates triple with geo-targeted messages and incentives.
- You want to identify the leads that are most likely to buy:Lead2Show also uses the industry’s best “Big Data” to drive more customers your way. HookLogic’s integration of Polk Lead Intelligence allows our dealers to quickly identify the leads that are lower in the funnel. When the lead comes into the dealership’s CRM, Lead2Show immediately matches the lead against over 100 data points including past registration data, lifestyle information, and credit worthiness. Customers who score high are sent a time sensitive email with an incentive to pick your dealership. Does this really work? In a recent case study with over 170 dealerships, incentivizing a high scoring lead resulted in an overall closing ratio of 47%. When the high scoring lead wasn't incentivized, the buy rate was only 28%. These high intenders are buyers. Now you just need to make sure that they buy from you instead of the competition.
- You want to know where your leads go after they visit your site, and how you can bring them back: Adding another “Big Data” provider, Lead2Show infuses Dataium’s VisiCogn In-Market Lead Alert. This allows our dealers to match up each lead and watch those customers if they show specific online behavior post lead submission. Make no mistake; this is not re-targeting based on predictive guessing that others may talk about. This matches up a customer that has submitted a lead to YOUR dealership and, even if it is 3 weeks after, allows you to know if this customer is searching for a vehicle on your site or on other sites like Cars.com, OEM sites, or even other dealership sites. HookLogic uses this match to automatically deliver a time sensitive incentive via email to drive that customer into your dealership at a point when that customer has come back into market and alerts you when it happens. HookLogic literally reanimates your old leads and provides a differentiating message to the customer at the right time. No one other than HookLogic does anything like this.
- You want to link internet and phone leads: Lead2Show integrates offline call tracking data from CallSource. Each time a call comes in, Lead2Show matches that call information against your Internet leads, even if it is weeks or months after the lead was submitted. A customer call is the hottest lead and no matter if the call is handled well or poorly by the salesperson, Lead2Show has you covered, alerting you of the match and sending a time sensitive incentive via email to the customer. Lead2Show reanimates the lead when that customer is showing buying tendencies. No one uses offline call tracking data to execute like HookLogic and CallSource.
HookLogic pulled together the top “big data” providers in the auto industry and built the best execution engine to drive more leads into your showroom. When our dealers utilize geo-targeting and Polk Lead Intelligence to instantly identify the best leads, and then layer in Dataium and CallSource data to reanimate their leads, they see huge increases in how many customers visit the dealership. In some cases as many as an additional 25 shows and closing ratios as high as 28%. One successful dealer has sold an additional 20 cars a month for the past 3 months on Lead2Show.
Lead2Show supercharges your existing 3rd party, OEM, and listing site leads and drives more customers into your showroom, in most cases, over a 50% increase, a higher closing ratio, which pushes your market share higher and your cost per sale is lowered.
And here is a reminder what makes AutoHook’s Lead2Show different:
- Your dealership can target based on your customer’s geographic region.
- You will also be able to target based on Polk Lead Intelligence and Registration Data.
- We will reanimate old leads based on Dataium online activity and match up/reanimate old leads based on CallSource offline call activity.
See for yourself. Click here to check out how Lead2Show can give you a competitive advantage.