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Bert Billingsley

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Technology is the foundation of your internet sales best practices, not a replacement.
The strength of any good sales staff will always be its people.  Technology supports the structure of your sales team, freeing the team to do what you hired it to do: sell cars.  The ResponseLogix product suite will "do the heavy lifting", maximizing the value of your internet leads.  Increasing close rates requires a clear organizational plan that defines structure, staffing and roles that cost-effectively accomplish the objective.

Structuring staff for maximized success.

For optimal close rates a sales rep should be handling 85 to 100 internet leads a month.  Maintaining this ratio is important; it gives the internet sales reps the best chance to consistently achieve a high closing rate.

ResponseLogix is the foundation of a great internet process.  SmartQuote responds to internet car shopper leads with a professional-looking, customized multi-vehicle price quote within 10 minutes, every time.  It eliminates the time-consuming task of manually preparing a quote.  SmartFollow automatically follows-up and reactivates leads if the customer doesn’t buy right away.

Some 25 percent of all internet leads that come in to a dealership are not responded to at all.  On average it takes five hours for sales reps to respond to an internet lead and deliver a quote to the prospective buyer.  Auto dealers who quickly deliver price quotes that respond to a consumer’s request will have a competitive edge.

Once the lead comes in and a multi-vehicle price quote is sent, the sales rep has a significantly higher chance of reaching the customer when a call is made within 10 minutes.  According to an MIT study, a call made within 5 minutes has been shown to increase contact with shoppers 100 times over a call that goes out in 30 minutes.

Who within your dealership should make the first call within the crucial 10-minute timeframe?  It depends on your internet lead volume.  An outsourced BDC or receptionist should make the first call for small dealerships that generate less than 100 leads.  Medium volume dealerships with between 101 and 500 internet leads can have either a BDC or internet department sales assistant initiate the first call.  Large volume dealerships with more than 500 internet leads will need an internal BDC to make the first call.  Internet sales reps make all follow-up calls.

Create a process that exceeds customer expectation every time

Once the technology, staff and structure are in place, follow best practices for a sales process that is proven.  Execute the initial phone call within 10 minutes.  Use call, voicemail and email scripts at every stage of the sales cycle to ensure efficient conversations that drive sales and appeal to the car buyer.

The first call must be courteous and open with an introduction of the sales rep and the dealership. Drawing attention to the SmartQuote moves the conversation into an honest and natural next step toward determining the buyer’s preferences and whether they are a serious buyer or casual shopper.  The serious buyer should prompt inquiries into financing options, purchase time frame and whether they have a trade-in.

Ideally the phone number would be included in every internet lead; but that doesn’t always happen. When there is no phone number, the sales rep should look for clues to see if they can find a phone number.  Look at the email address; you can find the number if it’s from a company. If you don’t have the clues to figure out the phone number, use best practices email scripts and ask for it.  A quick email will get a buyer’s phone number about 15 percent of the time.  If you still don’t get the phone number, pursue the sale with email.

Be persistent in your attempts to get an appointment; it will pay off.  If at first you don’t succeed in reaching the car buyer, call and email at regularly scheduled intervals during the next 15 days.  Be aggressive for the first five days with two calls and an email daily to the prospective buyer but leave only one voicemail message.  Alternate calls and emails during the next 10 days.  Use the call and email scripts to schedule an appointment.

After 15 days of phone calls and emails, SmartFollow kicks in to automatically follow-up and reactivate the lead if the customer doesn’t buy right away.  Use SmartFollow to pursue older leads for 180 days and free your internet sales staff to focus on new leads.  If SmartFollow reactivates a lead, jump on it quickly; a reactivated lead is more valuable than a new incoming lead.  A reactivation is someone who has chosen to do business with you.  If a call is made within 10 minutes of reactivation, you can expect to close the deal 20 percent of the time.

What about missed appointments?  Call and email the prospect one hour after the missed appointment and try to reschedule.  Use the appropriate call and email scripts to reschedule the appointment. The car buyer who misses an appointment should be treated as a fresh lead and restart the 15-day call/email cycle.

Harness technology to free up your sales reps to sell cars.  Staff appropriately and build a great sales process around technology to consistently achieve high close rates.  Use ResponseLogix to engage the customer early in the buying process and then propel them toward purchase.

Mark Tewart
Great post Nick. I agree with all the things you have pointed out. In my series of posts titled "Death of the Traditional Salesperson" I have been covering a lot of the same ideas about mixing technology with sales process effectively. The traditional job descriptions of salespeople are not effective anymore. Too many customers and their contacts are falling through the cracks. Every dealership needs a fail-safe process utilizing technology to make sure that the process leaves little to no chance for error. The argument against this will be that the salespeople and managers are paid to do this and all the contacts points should be personal and done by them. How personal can that be if those contacts are never made. Even CRM's are not helpful if the people using them do not do their job. Most dealerships don't need more leads until they have a better process and training to handle what they have. Great post. Mark Tewart
Michael Midgley
We are a one-price store so I have no problem emailing a price quote. I am finding, though, that most of our third party leads come through with incomplete information. How should I send a price quote if I don't know what model they want?
Bert Billingsley
Michael, In that case I would provide a quote featuring high, mid and low priced options. At that point it's about starting a conversation and getting the reply out to the buyer.

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