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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development Manager

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Merge or Not to Merge: Top Reasons to Merge Leads

The CRM is vital to a dealerships growth and development. Housing all of the transactional data. Everything from leads, sold customers, unsold customers, and service customers. That said, it is even more important to make sure there are not duplicate profiles for the same customer. 

There is not a single roadmap to the sale. A customer will most likely convert from multiple websites before s/he chooses to commit to an appointment or decides to visit the dealership. Each and every time the customer converts their new lead may or may not “automatically” merge with their original profile within the CRM. 

In the last month, however, this has been a considerable debate: that is, “to merge or not to merge.” There is a grave concern that transactional data could go missing when merging a customer profile. However, if merged effectively each additional “conversion” should be shown as a “duplicate lead.” 

What this does not offer, though is that you still should review each vendors results regarding conversion. For example, on your dealer website, you might have converted 367 leads, BUT only 169 organic (new) leads. Therefore, having 198 duplicate leads. Let’s say Jane Doe has 5 leads, and only 2 merged in the CRM as 1 profile. That leaves 3 additional profiles in the CRM for one customer. 

While no one wants to lose the information regarding conversion or lead count (you can always review analytics),  one does want to make sure that all leads are merged (if there are duplicates), and the data is in one profile. This will ensure that the customer's information is in one place versus having multiple profiles for the same customer. 

Have you ever called a customer and they said “ugh, I was in your store yesterday” because the lead was not merged? And the customer submitted a coupon lead before they made their purchase? The answer is probably, yes! 

Here are some of the best practices when it comes to merging the customers lead: 


Cross-Check the CRM - what lead came in first?

As mentioned above, there is not a single one size fits all road to the sale. The customer can convertMerging Leads on multiple sites before they make their final decision. That said, before merging the lead, you should always cross-check the CRM to make sure the customer does not already exist by searching with their phone number, and then their email. 

One of the concerns with merging is that you can lose the “conversion” point aka the source in which the lead converted from last. However, if the customer first converted off of the OEM site (and maybe it was a spouse, first) within the previous 30 days and you are actively working with the customer then you should merge the leads. Where the OEM is the original lead ID & the third party is a duplicate. Making sure that if the customer used another email or phone number to capture both contacts! 

If the customer converted a year ago or was made “inactive," then you would have a new profile for the customer. As there has not been any interaction with the customer within 30 days. The key, though, is that there is still one profile for the customer. Versus having two separate profiles. The first lead is “inactive," and the “new lead” is the newest opportunity. 

Primary Buyer vs. Secondary - Credit Applications 

It is not uncommon for a customer to have their spouse or significant other be a co-signer on the deal. Wherein, the co-signer will complete the “pre-approval” online creating a new lead. That lead, however, should be merged with the customer who is purchasing the vehicle. The credit application will show as a “duplicate” lead within the CRM. 

Now, in the CRM - you should still save the co-buyers information. A lot of CRM’s offer the ability to add“co-buyers” to their profile. Allowing you to save their information without having to keep multiple profiles in the CRM. The “buyer” though should be the primary name on the lead. Along with their information. 

 

 

 

Phone Numbers 

When merging leads, it is imperative to make sure that you keep all of the data - unless of course, the customer used a fake phone number in their first lead, which is not all that uncommon. 

The customer - in many cases - will include a home number in the first lead (or just an email), but offer their cell-phone number on the coupon lead converting off of your dealer website. In this case, you should make sure you note down which number is the cell, and which is the home. 

Emails 

Customers are smart. In many cases, they will have a “spam” email which is used early on in the buying process. However, as they work their way down the funnel - converting off of the dealer website - they will more often than not use their personal email. 

If the customer has *never* opened an email on their “spam” email, then it is not necessary to keep it! Continuing to “spam” an email (for the sake of sending another email blast) will not only run you the risk of getting flagged as being spam but also getting black-listed. 

If it isn’t being used. Lose it. Remember, this is not a coffee shop - where, in  6 months you are digging through your email account to find the long lost email containing the coupon that probably expired 6 months ago. Instead, if you are using their “active” email - you are already sending them a coupon each month! 

Address Updates - What is the Current Address? 

Customers usually do not offer their address in the lead form. Ever, really. That said, it is important when the customer does complete the credit application that you take the time to make sure their home address is up to date. 

Bottom Line:

It is essential to understand how each vendor is performing using their analytics. But it also just as important to keep an organized CRM. Understanding how many customers you actually have. What CRM’s could offer is a “road to the sale”providing a report on the various conversion points of the customer. As I am sure there are trends/patterns in how customers convert offline before making their decision. Until then, keep merging, and review the analytics with each vendor seeing how they are performing.  

Do you merge leads? If not, what is your reasoning behind leaving multiple profiles within the CRM? Do you find your staff accidentally calling a customer who has already sold or been in the showroom because it was not merged? 
 

Chris K Leslie

We totally merge leads. The only reason to not merge in my opinion is this is a new vehicle for the same customer or it is a second vehicle. But I like to think of leads being tied to a specific unit. If more than one lead come in from the same person around the same unit then it should be merged. 

Derrick Woolfson

I agree, Chris! And once they do both purchases (and are DMS sold) we then merge profiles. As correspondence for DMS sold customers is VIN centric, and will send to both VINS. 

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