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How Dealers Can Ditch Third-Party Auto Leads

As dealerships from coast to coast are tightening their belts in preparation for uncertain months ahead, many proactive dealers are turning away from expensive third-party auto lead providers and either reallocating the funds or simply cutting budgets for lead generation. 

This may seem counterintuitive – more leads normally mean more sales, right? Third-party leads are plentiful and often come with grand claims from the external provider about how their leads are “ready to buy” and “motivated for purchase.” Oftentimes, these statements refer to a percentage of those leads, and even if these leads are ready to purchase, they’ve likely been sent to multiple dealerships, including your competitors.  

While these leads close at different rates depending on various factors, selling is all about percentages and volume. Closing a low percentage of deals from a massive pool of paid leads is far less cost-effective than closing a higher percentage of internally generated sales leads at a significantly better ROI. For dealerships looking to achieve sustainable success throughout 2021, swapping third party auto leads for sales opportunities generated by high-quality data and actionable insights on each individual prospect is key. 

In this post, we share three steps to ditching third party auto lead providers and generating your own sales opportunities by: 

– Using high-quality data to identify prospective buyers
– Mining the service drive for sales opportunities
– Taking a proactive approach with your BDC 

Using High-Quality Data

The first step to proactively and successfully “cut the cord” from third party auto lead generation companies is to properly gather and utilize high-quality data from within your own dealership’s walls. 

When it comes to auto lead generation, the adage “quantity vs. quality” is largely outdated thanks to modern dealership technology. While some dealerships remain focused on generating and sifting through large numbers of typically low-quality leads, innovative dealers are using modern behavior prediction and automated marketing tools to do significantly more with less.

Instead of manually sifting through large stacks of leads, advanced marketing tools allow dealers to automatically analyze data from their DMS, CRM, sales platform and other datasets to identify and rank prospective buyers predicted to be ready to enter the buying cycle – before they’ve started shopping around.

To accurately identify customers early in their buying journey, or to avoid nurturing a lead who seems like a good opportunity on the surface, but deeper factors render them unlikely to purchase soon, dealers need high-quality, up-to-date data. The data also needs to be relevant. 

A customer’s intention can be determined through a variety of factors, including financial considerations, online buying behaviors, demographic information and more. With so many factors and data sources, knowing what information to analyze is a growing challenge for many dealers. Fortunately, modern dealership marketing tools like Market EyeQ, fueled by data from sources like IHS Markit, CARFAX, Transunion and other unrivaled sources, empower dealerships to effectively mine their entire local market for sales opportunities. 

Identifying Service Drive Opportunities

Dealers have long known their service department can be a critical source of sales leads. But, simply treating every service ticket as a potential sale is as ineffective as sifting through stacks of third-party leads. As with their competitor conquesting efforts, dealers can maximize the efficacy of their service-to-sales process by taking a more proactive, data-driven approach. For example, Market EyeQ's Service Conquest feature empowers our dealer partners to convert service customers into new car buyers at a 4x higher activation rate than the competition.  

Breaking down the barriers between sales and service is the first crucial step to discovering proactive success at your dealership. Some dealerships employ a service-to-sales liaison, either dedicated as a go-between or as an extension of the BDC, to identify, engage service-to-sales leads using insights from their CRM, maturity manager or data mining tool. With increasingly thin margins, if a dedicated salesperson is not an option for your dealership, arming every service technician with the training and technology needed to carry out this process is critical. 

With the number two influence on brand loyalty (only after the sales experience) being a customer’s maintenance and service experience, and loyalty customers typically generating the most profitable sales, it’s critical to utilize your service drive to build loyalty and proactively identify when customers are ready to re-enter the sales cycle. 

Proactive dealerships approach building customer loyalty by utilizing advanced marketing tools and customer data to serve as an ongoing customer concierge through well-timed service alerts and offers. These same tools allow dealers to prioritize and engage the buyers predicted to be ready to buy again soon. No matter their reason for buying, delivering service customers specific messaging that motivates them to purchase before they enter the buying cycle is crucial to nurturing auto sales leads through their buying journey and maximizing ROI. 

Proactive vs. Reactive BDC Strategy

A proactive strategy shouldn’t be confined to the sales floor and service drive. Many dealers skip the BDC, assuming their role is to make as many calls as possible to the third party-generated leads, waiting for the proverbial wide net to capture some customers ready to buy. With more options than ever when it comes to where and how to buy, staying ahead of customers has never been more important – and never been more possible. 

Industry research finds 80% of car buyers start their journey online. For a BDC to effectively get ahead of online buyers and engage them before they begin shopping around, being able to identify the behaviors and influences that precede a purchase are key. Here, advanced marketing tools are irreplaceable, able to both identify pre-purchase consumer behaviors and generate personalized messaging based on the specific factors predicted to influence a prospect’s purchasing decision. 

Turning away traditional, paid third party dealership leads in favor of in-house lead generation may seem to be counterproductive at first glance, and in truth, it can be challenging. But when high-quality data is combined with a proactive strategy and buy-in from across the dealership, the results will speak for themselves.

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