Incentive Plan For People Who Handle Internet Leads

Steve Devereaux
Does anyone know a good incentive plan for people who handle the Internet leads? We want to get our response time down on our Internet leads by assigning the responsibility to one person instead of giving the leads out to sales people. I've heard of paying them on each appointment that comes in and then when the customer arrives at the dealership they deal with a different salesperson. Then if the vehicle gets sold they get a percent of the gross. Has anyone else heard of something like this? Any specifics would be greatly appreciated! Also does anyone know how to record the response time, so we can keep an eye on how well the employee would be doing for all leads (Autotrader, and Website leads, etc). Thanks!
Shawn Vieira
I am interested in this also. Currently we have one person receiving an hourly wage to respond to the leads, He gets spiffs for appointments that show ($15) and another for appointments that sell.($25) I have suggested that they get a bonus if the closing percentage is above 60%. So that he isn't saying or making promises the sales dept. can't deliver on. I have also suggested a bonus for % of leads that show. Our approach is, He schedules the appointments with the customer and ask that the customer ask for him when they come in. And he will introduce the customer to best person for the type of car the customer is interested in. "When you come in, please ask for me, I will introduce you to my best truck guy, I don't want you talking to somebody that sells only Cadillacs and can't answer your questions about a truck". This person is almost always the person that ups them in the parking lot. "I see you met John already, great, he is the person that immediately came to mind, when you started describing what you are looking for. You will be in good hands with him. If you have any questions that he can't answer, please feel free to ask for me again and I will do what I can to help" Then "John this is Steve, I have been talking with him about a ..... and was thinking stock #..... is a good choice, but why don't the two of you sit down and go over my notes to make sure everything is correct". The process has worked for me for a while, but I am always looking for ways to improve. I don't think splitting deals or commissions is a good idea, sales people will lose interest fast and not want to work with internet customers anymore. (seen it happen) I am getting stuck with the 24 hr clock and response times in general. How should the lead responder get paid when he is "off the clock" at the dealership. (answering leads from home, after hours or on days off). Any ideas?
Steve Devereaux
Thanks for the great response. I'm curious as to how you came up with the flat rate for when a vehicle is sold. Have you considered a low percentage of the gross profit? What are your thoughts behind that? Also, where are you from? (I want to know for pay purposes. I'm sure the wages should be different if your from New York City than if you were from southern West Virginia). I'm assuming that your bonus idea for having a closing ratio of over 60% would be for appointments that show up. I don't think that either of your bonus ideas are bad ideas... but I would have to let you know once I see actual numbers since we don't have a process like this in place yet. As for your question... Have you considered giving the Internet person a salary instead of paying them hourly and then giving them a bonus based on response time? The incentive plan should be good motivation for it. Do you have a way of recording the response time for all the leads from different sources (Autotrader,, website leads etc) so that an incentive for response time could be implemented? If so, what's the program or vendor that you use?
Bryan Armstrong
@Steve-So if I'm understanding this correctly, you have an I-net sales facilitator (doesn't actually sell the car) who is basically a BDC rep for i-net leads only? Also are you giving him ALL i-net leads? or just e-mailed inquiries? I have a BDC that the reps get paid a base wage hourly, then showed and sold bonus. But we run all our i-net leads through a cradle to the grave process where the salesman actually handles the leads he sells. I use VinSolutions for a CRM and all leads, including phone ups go in there automatically and the leads are round-robined according to who is on schedule with accountability for response time. Also since they have mobile integration, its easy for the guys to "stop the clock" with an e-mail from their phone that actually gets recorded in the customers record. Call Source every different ad source w/ a different 800# and know how many leads he is handling both e-mail and phone, know you can close 18% of all leads if done right and back him into the money you want him to make. keep in mind, if you really track everything you'll be shocked that you are currently probably under 5% closing of all leads. Provide incentives for him with metrics you want emphasized. I wouldn't "give away" any salesperson's gross. You want him to sell the value and transparency of doing business with you and that means he's going to either need to be empowered to quote pricing or at least capable of gaining rapport enough to get it handed off to someone who is. Tougher gig than you may think in today's info heavy world.
Shawn Vieira
Steve, I'm in western Mass. and the flat rate was an agreed upon amount in the belief that the internet person could make X amount a year if he met specific numbers each month. As far as Salary goes, I was told to be a salaried employee you have to be a manager, have people working for you, have the ability to hire or fire and can make financial decisions for your dept. So this roles only qualifies for an hourly rate. Thus my delima. If you don't have a CRM that can track your leads you need to get one, so they will be consolidated in one place. If you are a GM dealer they have GM onesource and you should be able to get all the different lead providers intigrated into it. Whomever you have responding to leads should definitely be able to respond with price quotes and build rapport (trust) with the customer. Which will make it easier to hand off to a qualified sales person. Sometimes this may make it impossible to handoff, so he will also need to be able to sell a car. (doesn't happen often). Best of Luck. The internet dept. is the trickiest dept. to learn and be good at, much less great at. I would advise all managers and owners to take the required training from the manufacturers to see what they teach and expect vs. just what the vendors say and old school managers think they know.
Steve Devereaux
Interesting how I read an article in Dealer Magazine that talked about the Internet Manager not being a "real" manager. If the salary solves your problem of getting leads responded to at all hours, then I don't see how the people who are opposing your have any ground to stand on. I'd like to hear what their solution to the problem is. Even the bonus for lead response time should motivate them to respond to the leads quickly when they are off the clock. A phone should also be provided to them with a data plan in my opinion. What are your thoughts? As for Bryan's response, we get most of our customers off of the Internet and we're a low volume dealership, so I don't think it would be fair to have them handle all Internet leads including phone calls. I think it would be best to just handle the e-mail leads for us since the person will have other duties as well.

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