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Jim Bell

Jim Bell Performance Manager

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The Secret to My Success

 

I hope that this caught your attention because I do have a secret.  I was reading this week's issue of Automotive News on Monday and there is an article on page 24.  If you don't get it, or your owner or GM hangs onto it for a few weeks and then passes it around, go find it.  It is about Internet Leads.  It basically comes down to how much dealers are not responding effectively to i-leads.

The survey was conducted by Piper of Monterey and shopped 4331 different dealerships and brands.  Here are some of their findings:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 queries went unanswered within the first 24 hours.
  • Only 16% of the leads submitted received an auto-responder.  I know that there is room for argument whether or not to have one, but I was surprised how low that number was.

Breaking it down by brand, there were some shocking things brought to the surface.  You would think that Toyota/Scion would be great in responding to leads since it is a little more geared towards Gen-Y (particularly on Scion).  They scored second worse with 36% of their dealerships not responding to the leads submitted.  Mini was actually worst in not responding to leads.

The top six brands were Lexus and Infiniti tied for first; Acura, third; Lincoln, Ford, and Honda tied for fourth.

Along with this article, Cobalt just released it's eshopper results from 2011.  The results are very similar.  Here are some of their results and taken from their study:

  • 2 out of 10 leads never were responded to.
  • 2 out of 3 weren't invited in for a test drive.
  • 75% of the leads weren't quoted a price when requested.

These are just a few of their results.  There is a wealth of information out there on this thing that we call the internet on message boards like Driving Sales among others.  Car people are engaged on there and sharing ideas and practices, but the results are showing that so many dealers are missing the mark.

Here is my secret to our success and don't tell anyone.  Answer the leads!!!  It's just that simple.  Yes, response time is important, but more importantly, the quality of the content maybe more important as the Cobalt study revealed.  Now, respond to this post, and go respond to those leads sitting in that "New Bucket" in your CRM.

You can read the Cobalt study here. (Take note what you have to do in order to get a copy of the study.)

Amy Taggart
Great post Jim - we talk about best practices for following up on leads all the time...but "answering the leads" seems like it should be step zero!
Jim Bell
You are right Amy...it should be step zero, but so many are missing the mark with that step zero.
Amy Taggart
We've seen that in practice, too - great to have study to support what "feels" true.
Ron Henson
Great post Jim. Let's get really crazy here and talk Utopia.....#1 Answer the lead AND do it within 10 mins! Thanks for the post Jim.
Peter Kahn
Hi everyone. I am the author of the Cobalt study so I thought it was worth providing a little perspective to this discussion of lead handling. Jim, thanks very much for mentioning and providing the link to the white paper. We tried not to make it difficult get. Just enter your vitals and it’s yours. First, of course, answering every lead is step number one in effective lead handling. As they say, you can’t hope to win the lottery if you don’t first buy a ticket. That said, there can be some technical problem that prevents 100% lead response. One place to look is in lead routing. Who at the store is getting these leads? Are they still working there and in the same capacity? Are leads being sent to the store CRM or someone’s personal email account? At the end of each day, who’s responsible to make sure that no leads went unanswered? Second, something that really bears mentioning is that you shouldn’t assume that the shopper has settled on anything. Just because the shopper says they are interested a specific make/model/trim doesn’t mean they have decided. Frequently they haven’t. Be sure to reinforce their choice by pointing out the benefits. In our study, of those who did send an email response, only 18% mentioned a benefit of owning the specific make or model. If you want to know more, check out this landmark study, “2007 Dealer eBusiness Performance” published by Cobalt in partnership with Yahoo and R.L. Polk found here: http://www.cobalt.com/showcase/industry-research.html Third, the goal of a good email response to an in-market shopper is to win their allegiance and get them to take that next step, coming down to the store and taking a test drive. If you don’t invite them down, then you can’t expect them to show on their own. Be polite but forthright in your invitation. If you have done a good job in responding, you have earned the right to make that offer. Most responders just gave their phone number as a next step. Maybe the shopper will call you. Think about your store. Does someone own the responsibility to make sure all shoppers get a meaningful response, the same day the submit their request? Can the digital sales team list specific ownership benefits of the makes and models being sold and include these in responses? Do responses to in-market shoppers go out with an offer for a test drive. Does the sales team then pick up the phone to talk to the shopper and lock down the date and time for a visit? These ABCs are critical and stores that practice them will see their win rate go up. A last thought is that we want to shape our next study with more input from you all. What areas of eLead handling would you want to know more about? Please be specific if you have some ideas.

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