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How To Prevent Poor Lead Process Management and Poor Website Experiences

By Eric Miltsch on Jan 15, 2013

Last weekend I had the opportunity to speak to a 20 Group in Chicago - a group that has met annually for nearly 25 years. A very experienced group set in their ways. Yes, I was concerned with what I was about to show them - and how they would respond.
Fortunately, I was met with a group of professionals that came willing to learn. Their thirst for information was incredible.
Our day started off by talking about lead handling processes and the 16-Points every dealership needs to have in place - made famous by Jared Hamilton from his Process, Structure & Marketing industry overview. Nearly every dealership does two of the process points consistently - they take the lead in and they try to close the lead as hard as possible, that's about it. These efforts are incomplete a majority of the time. 
True opportunities for change and dealership improvement happens between these two actions. I believe these are among the most important process decisions a dealership can make. This sets the tone for the staff, this is how management activity is defined, and it also makes or breaks the customer experience. 
Also included in this discussion were the seven items to measure for effective lead response management. Even though dealers have the latest and greatest CRM systems in place, that doesn't mean their processes are in-check or that they're getting the highest quality lead responses from their employees using the platform. 
A workshop style activity that allowed each dealership to see their own lead responses and also grade their scores, based on the seven items to measure, was an eye opener for everyone in the group. Every dealer agreed this was a hot topic and one that needed more attention in their store. Take-aways for this segment: 
  • Is proper grammar being used?
  • Is the customer's question being answered? 
  • Is price being mentioned within the responses?
  • Do the responses include value added information (links, pictures, videos) 
  • Are they asking for the customer's phone number?  
The afternoon continued with extensive marketing coverage. The theme, not surprisingly, was marketing cohesion. A majority of the dealers were all firing random shots in the dark using a fragmented marketing approach. A consistent, long-term approach needs to be applied and it must include some type of reporting or analytics element to ensure proper decisions are being made. Many in the group readily admitted to making decisions based on emotions rather than facts over the years. 
The day concluded with website reviews. A simple exercise for any dealer or Internet manager is to use your site as a customer would: visit the home page, find a vehicle and submit a lead request, a trade-in request and or a credit application. If doing so frustrates you, how do you think it feels for a customer who has just visit a dozen different dealer websites? Their frustration level is probably off the charts by the time they hit your website. Key take-aways for this section: 
  • Does the site load quickly? 
  • Can you get to the vehicles in one click? 
  • Do you have social icons and links above the fold and getting more importance than the items that ring your cash register? 
  • Do you have unproductive clutter on your home page? 
  • Do you have dead end pages - pages with no call to actions or deep links? 
  • Do you access your analytics on a consistent basis?
  • Do you know your top ten most visited pages and the keywords that drive traffic to your site? 
If you're spending good money driving traffic to your new improved website, but don't have solid internal lead handling processes - and vice-versa, you're simply doing it wrong. Check your marketing and your processes to create the best structure possible. In a year from now you'll wish you had started today!
Would you like a website analysis and mystery shop review done for your dealership?
Contact Ron Henson from DrivingSales University for more information.


Sounds like a great day Eric. That is the one thing that I love about the 20 group that we are a part of. It is constant contact with them and measuring all of the pertinent info that we need to make all of us better. This is a good starting point for dealers to look at in looking through all of the questions that you have outlined. All too often, we get caught up in the car world and don't think like a consumer. The website, emails, and other forms of contact need to be evaluated constantly to make sure that we don't have too much car talk and we are talking with the customer as if we weren't in the car biz,.

Jan 15, 2013

I recently submitted a lead for a car I was actually interested in. My lead was responded to right away, and the car was actually sold.

I found another car on their website and asked about specific information on the car. This reply was missing an answer to one of my questions (they probably needed to go looking for this answer).

I then sent another email asking for the missing answer, and haven't gotten a reply in 3 days. I have since talked to another dealership about a similar vehicle.

As someone that helps brings in traffic to a dealers website, this made me lose a little faith in the handling of some leads.

I'm sure not all dealerships are this bad, and good lead management is a must!

Great post Eric!

Jan 15, 2013

Justin - just incredible that this type of activity still happens.

And yes Jim, it did turn out to be a great day. We tend to take so much for granted and this was a great way to help some dealers who were truly interested in helping themselves.

Jan 15, 2013

I was just about to write about my own frustrations I am experiencing MTD...But I am currently one of those dealers that needs to change our business model.

Eric, your article has hit home with me. I need to help our group.

Each dealer wants more sales but does not staff the department with enough BD Agents. There solution: reduce leads and cut employee solution: add staff so we can answer all the customer questions. Time to Centralize and Effectively Manage Daily.

Great Post Eric!

Jan 17, 2013

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