I have in the past posted on my opinions of 3rd Party leads, however in this ever changing Market, and never being afraid to try something new even if it’s actually old, a while ago I signed back up with a provider to conquest leads that were 15-35 miles from my Dealership.
You see the OEM will take those inquiries submitted from a Downtown IP address and give them to my competition even if the prospect should live next door to my Dealership, so I was looking for a specific solution. Over time, we had approximately an 8% closing ratio and things were going well for, as I thought, many of the leads I received actually lived in my PMA and worked in my COMPETITORS. However about 3 Months ago I noticed lead volume declining along with lead quality. Since I measure everything on a 90 day curve, this just put 3rd party leads on my “watch” list.
Interestingly enough late one Saturday night a name of a personal friend (we’ve both been Foster Parents for years, exchanged kids and laughed and cried together) came across as an inquiry, so I called her home phone and left her a message that if she wanted a VW to let me know and I’d be happy to personally help. In the meantime, she also received an e-mail from my Salesperson stating we were closed and then Monday another asking if there was “any color you WOULD NOT consider and is a test drive important?” (Both were automated). This is the response I received:
PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!!!! I AM TIRED OF YOUR EMAILS AND FEELING STALKED AND HARASSED BY YOU! OBVIOUSLY, IM NOT A SINGLE BIT INTERESTED....DO YOU GET THAT NOW?? TAKE ME IMMEDIATELY OFF YOUR DAMN EMAIL/CALL LIST, AS I NEVER REQUESTED TO BE PUT ON THE BULLSHIT LISTS IN THE FIRST PLACE. I GOT A DIFFERENT CRAP ADD, THAT HAD A BLOODY PICTURE OF A VOLKSWAGEN. MY STUPIDITY LED ME TO OPEN IT OUT OF BORDEM...MERELY TO OBSERVE THE VW STYLE.
TRUST ME, IF IM GOING TO BUY A NEW CAR, IT WILL NOT BE FROM SOMEBODY WHO PRACTICES THESE PATHETIC AND DESPERATE SALE STRATEGIES. I WOULD GO OUT OF MY WAY NOT TO USE YOUR DEALERSHIP, SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU INSULT MY INTELLIGENCE. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, SOME PEOPLE ARE REALLY CAPABLE OF GETTING IN CONTACT WITH YOU, IF AND WHEN THEY ARE ACTUALLY INTERESTED IN BUYING (NOT LOOKING AT A PICTURE!! THERE'S A DIFFERENCE!) A CAR.
PLEASE, STOP THE BOMBARDMENT OF CALLS AND EMAILS. THAT WOULD BE YOUR FIRST STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOR RESPECTING THE POTENTIAL CONSUMER, LOOKING TO BUY A CAR IN THE FUTURE. IF YOU CANNOT SEE TO THIS REQUEST, I WILL GLADLY CALL THE APPROPRIATE PERSON NECESSARY AND MAKE IT STOP!!!
THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING MY REQUEST,
Yes, it really was all caps and underlined.
I immediately called my friend and apologized; she did as well upon realizing it was me and I got THE REST OF THE STORY: She had clicked on an ad and requested (i.e. “would you like…”) info on similar types of vehicles to the Tiguan pictured.
The next 2 weeks were in her words “HELL”. She had received calls and e-mail bombardments from Kia, 1 other VW Dealer and a Hyundai Store to mention a few. A Salesperson at another VW Dealer told her she was lying (which she was) when she said she had already purchased to get him to stop calling, another Kia rep had called her husband and told him he just needed his credit info (which he gave thinking this guy had spoken with his wife) to see what he could do for them and the list of atrocities went on. I was embarrassed for my Industry and shocked at the same time.
So I took it upon myself to replicate the experiment and submitted an inquiry to multiple aggregators. I must apologize to the Stores who paid $20 each for my experiment, but as near as I can tell; each inquiry generated approximately 4 Dealer responses. Keep in mind I DID NOT drill down to a model I only inquired as to 3rd row seat SUV’s within a “comparable to” Nissan Pathfinder segment.
The point of this post is NOT that Dealix, Autobytel, TrueCar or any other lead provider is unscrupulous, but rather have set up their sites to use your name and inventory to make them more relevant than you in search and are being, in my opinion, exceedingly vague in the UX for the shopper. They will not feel the repercussion and can hide behind return or guarantee policies, but I’m more convinced than ever that developing your own leads is crucial and integral to our survival going forward.
Blogs, Micro-sites, Social Media etc. can help you control more of the real estate for your Dealer Name and Brand, so why spend thousands per Month on a non-renewable resource?
Above all measure and inspect constantly!