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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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Response Time: Top Reasons for Quality vs. Speed

In a perfect world, all leads would be answered immediately, and the appointment would be booked . Soon to be a sale. However, the way we approach the response time can make all the difference regarding the most critical part. That is the end-result. If the sole focus on the time in which it takes to answer a lead than the quality of the response can and will go down. While response time is important. It is just as important to make sure that the quality of response is not jeopardized.

Here are some of the top ways to handle response time:

The 5-10 Minute Rule

Oddly, in sales, if it is busy, the rules/process usually goes out the window. Where it becomes a “just get it done” mode. Well, the same applies to answer leads. Wherein, if the expectations are - regardless of the day - that the leads have to be answered within 5-10 minutes than the quality of response goes down. Where more often than not the BDC Agent or Sales Consultant is not reading the lead - answering their questions - or taking the time to call, email and text the customer. Perhaps just sending a canned email to then forget about the customer as they continue to the next one.

This happens far more than you would think. Especially on Mondays. Given that leads most likely have not been answered since Saturday night before close.

Stopping the Clock

Stopping the clock - unless you are actually working on that lead - is a big mistake, which can easily let leads slip through the cracks. Wherein, many CRMS offer the ability for the BDC Agent or Sales Consultant to manually click the “phone,” icon and “Complete” a call. Stopping the clock for what could be 25 plus leads. To then try and work their way through answering them. All for the sake of answering the lead within 5 minutes.

As a result, as they are working through leads with no rhyme or reason as to order in which they are answering them they soon become interrupted. Whether that is an inbound phone call, chat sessions, or answering a text. Thus they tend to forget about 5-10 leads, which could easily have been a dealer website lead that wanted to schedule a test drive. Even a credit application.

That said, rather than simply stopping the clock it is best to prioritize the leads, which leads into:

Prioritize Leads For Response Quality

As mentioned above, stopping the clock can cost the dealership sales. Given that there are several unanswered leads on Monday mornings it is best to prioritize them all without stopping the clock. For example, look at the sources - i.e., Dealer Website, OEM, & Third Party, add a note (which does not stop the clock), and then start making the calls, emails, and texts.

There have been discussions as to whether or not you should send an email, and then loop back through to call or text. However, best practice when answering leads is to call, email, and text. This way you are not potentially missing out on answering a lead. And also making sure to prioritize and organize your morning.

Bottom Line: Stopping the clock to have a good response time is never good. And while it is good to have a decent response time, the quality of that response time is just as important. That having been said, the best way to handle this is to prioritize the leads when you get in. Answering them one at a time. Where if it takes 25 minutes to respond to a lead, but it is a quality response, then that is much better than a canned email or worse not sending anything at all!

Do You Stop the Clock? What is your true response time?

Pierre Legault

You are dead on with this article. Unfortunately, some OEMs only focus on response time, and they give you coop money if you stay within 15 minutes. We need to make the OEM understand this and focus on coaching their dealers in quality responses. My BDC handles a lot of leads, and true enough, more on Mondays. I ask them to average under an hour. My goal is to get as close as possible to the 30 minute mark, but definitely quality over time. Our numbers show this is way more efficient.

Dean Love

I would agree.  Responding quickly is important, but responding in a way that shows attentiveness, courtesy, professionalism, and with a compelling reason to respond and engage is better.  It's easy to forget (especially when lead volumes are a bit higher, or over the weekend, as stated in the article), but if one takes a step back and thinks about the human being on the other end of that inquiry, their goals, needs, and possible lifestyle requirements, the end result (a response BACK from the customer, and meaningful engagement) is likely to be better.  How would you want to be responded to in the same situation?  Attention to quality pays off.  

Craig Polito

Derrick, we met when I was teaching the BDC class for Nissan. Glad to see your still using the methodology I taught in the class. Remember also " The Quality of the response will determine the Quality of the lead".  Something new for you.. Does your staff "Honor The Button". If you want to know more about this concept reach out to me at, there you will find my contact info.

Happy 4th

Marc @ Autobahn Academy

Awesome article. You would be surprised how many leads get answered in 4-5 minutes with wrongful information, or just plain missing the customer's question. Keep it up!

Derrick Woolfson

@Mark, it is crazy, right? Especially knowing how much it costs to acquire the customer in today's market. 

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