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Gary May

Gary May President

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You Lost Me At Hello


Leads. Leads. Leads. Lead? Nope, the customer that should be yours that will buy somewhere else. All the data (little data and it’s more well-known brothers medium data and big data) says the same thing: people that submit leads buy. And buy in a well-defined timeframe. And buy from…….well, it doesn’t matter. Most of the time it’s not you.

So what’s the deal? The deal is this: the more leads that are typically generated deliver fewer customers. Why? Because we can’t change an industry of salespeople, management, training and manuals before it wants to shed its rich history of stuffing customers into cars, only going for the low-hanging fruit and being “busy” which is a crock of bull. Between seemingly insurmountable amounts of information and customers buying, there is a brick wall. Yes, the one you keep hitting your heads against; the one that prevents us from being great and gaining attitudes that push us outside of our comfort zones.

Internet leads are gold. Back in the 1800’s California Gold Rush a lot of people went broke while a fair number made their riches. Fast forward to the last fifteen years and, likely for many of the same reasons, a few are making a killing while most are screaming “bad leads” rather than actually looking at what the heck is happening in their stores.

Between a dealership’s website and third parties, the average store can create enough business to sustain at least one person dedicated to managing “leads” or a floor of great communicators (which everyone says they are) sharing all of the business. The problem lies at the point where a response is sent. For the most part, dealerships respond with crap, period. Invite me into any dealership in the country, I’ll show you mediocre at best responses within the 30 days period prior and many of them.

So what needs to be done to eliminate losing someone at hello? Ready…here’s the rocket science:

  • Read the lead, and most of the time the source lead, completely prior to sending a response. Then read it again. Then slow down and read it again.
  • The response should include answers to every question or comment provided by the customer and validation for the customer
  • The response should include a qualifying and/or a closing question every time. In every email. Every time. No matter what. Every time. And if you can’t think of one, write a couple and stick it to your monitor or keyboard (would you like assistance with anything else? or did you have any other questions right now?)
  • Hit send after you’ve read the email thoroughly, ensuring that everything asked by the customer has been addressed, value or benefit has been identified, your complete contact information is included and that no significant amount of time has elapsed since receiving the information/email/response from the customer. Hold it!! Read it again and make sure it is understandable and completely addresses what the customer wants and needs without being a Steinbeck.

The reason that most dealerships don’t receive equitable responses from customers who submit online leads is….we send garbage! If it’s easier and more rewarding to buy a $25 item from Amazon than a $30,000 car from your store, shame on you!

Never send an email or pick up the phone (recorded phone calls demonstrate that we do just as s**tty of a job on the phone as emails) when (1) you don’t know what you are going to say, (2) don’t address the customer’s needs, (3) can’t properly invite them into the dealership and (4) talk/write more than asking questions.

Expectations around online experiences leading to purchase are increasing. So it doesn’t make sense to miss the mark, then defend yourself to your GM or GSM with anything other than “you know what, I don’t deserve to manage your leads”. And by the way, that’s not much of a defense, however at least it’s honest.

Remember that there is no such thing as a bad lead, just a crappy response. Yes, there are bogus leads but you’re old enough and smart enough to sell 20+ cars a month on 100 leads. Yes, you are. Go get ‘em tiger!


Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results


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Kevin Frye
Well said Gary. I have been training on this internally for years. And note that last part - years. It takes LOTS of repeated training to get your folks to do this consistently, and we still work to make sure this gets done every time...
Bryan Armstrong
Bazinga! There are no sh** leads just lazy processes and poor inspection. Spot on Gary!

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