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Joe Webb

Joe Webb President

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Overthinking It

Setting the Insane Parameters for a Legitimate BDC/Internet Sale

While on-site training at a dealership recently, the dealer and I put into place a new pay plan for their BDC team. However, he had a concern that the BDC team would reach new heights in their bonus levels by taking credit for sales that they didn’t put enough work into to deserve. Reasonable enough concern.

My answer was that they simply needed to be spot checked by a manager to keep them honest. Unfortunately, this answer was not good enough and I was asked to detail the very specific parameters that count for a BDC/Internet sale. Since I myself have managed leads and handled internet sales myself, I know the time that is put into bringing a customer in from prospect to appointment show. I understand not all customers set appointments. As I started putting the rules in place, I realized that I was overthinking it. However, if it has to be written and defined, I didn’t want to leave anything out. 

Allow me to first state my professional opinion that what can count as a sale for BDC members is subjective. You should indeed review and spot check each and every sale the BDC team turns in, but this can be time-consuming so it is best if it is handled by their own department manager. You hired the person and put them in charge so allow them to use their best judgment to decide what is “significant involvement” and if it warrants a sale. Regarding “significant involvement” being a legitimate reason to count a sale, we have to recognize that 40% or so of all customers in contact with a dealership will not set a specific appointment, but will use the data they acquired to still negotiate and purchase from the dealership they were best handled by. That is why I believe there IS a value for continued, true, live contact and information exchanged with a customer.

If you do attempt to put a specific framework around what is deemed a sale or appointment, here are a few potential “requirements” to look for that could, in each instance, warrant counting the sale.
1)       Inbound call was handled and an appointment was set. Customer arrives for appointment and purchases the vehicle.  
a) If customer purchases the vehicle within a 48 hour window around the appointment time, after it was set – if post appt. time, follow up call for missed appointment must have been made by BDC team member, but contact on the follow up call is not necessary.
b) Customer arrives for appointment set by BDC agent, doesn’t purchase, but significant notes are put in by the BDC agent after hearing the outcome from manager/salesperson, and the salesperson OR BDC agent follows up with customer enough to bring them back in (within 10 days time) and then the customer purchases.

2)      Inbound call was handled, customer asks for information not privy to BDC team (pricing for instance), BDC logs all customer information with detailed notes, and hands it off to sales manager. Provided manager sets appointment with customer, and BDC agent updates the customer profile (adding notes) and stipulates information regarding appointment or potential appointment. Provided the customer purchases under the same 48 hour window detailed in section #1, and makes an appointment confirmation call, then that can be viewed as “significant imvolvement”.
a)    a)  A call must have been made to the manager both after the first contact with customer and after the manager has spoken to the customer. Notes must be made on each occasion.

3)      For unsold walk-in customer sale, follow up call must be made a pre-determined time in action plan, appointment must be made by BDC agent, notes put in system, and manager alerted. If customer comes in for a be-back within 48 hours around the time of the set appointment, a sale is warranted.

4)      For unsold walk-in customer/internet sale, if a customer leaves the dealership unsold, gets online and submits a lead, you follow the pre-determined  follow-up process in the CRM, sending out the proper e-templates as specified, make live contact by phone and set the appointment (and they purchase within 48 hours of appointment), then it is a BDC sale.
a) All dialog must be documented with customer and an advance search must be performed to ensure it wasn’t another BDC agents customer.

5)      For phone customer, initial contact must be documented and noted in CRM when customer is logged. If contact is consistently made with customers at scheduled times, provided detailed notes are made and information is exchanged, it will be a sale if the customer purchases within 48 hours from last live contact with BDC agent and customer. (There IS a value for continued true contact and information exchange with a customer).

6)      Internet lead is answered by the BDC agent and the correct, price-matrix e-templates are sent to the customer at the pre-determined time by the action plan. If the customer engages the BDC Agent back with either
a) information/implication that they will be stopping (via email or phone) and its logged in the notes
b) additional questions that the BDC Agent does their due diligence in answering to the best of their ability and there is a modicum of back and forth question answering (even by email) – and call attempts have been made or offered to customers trying to lure them in then it is a sale provided -
c) They set the appointment with the customer and the customer comes in within a 72 hour window from last email contact (or appointment scheduled) and purchases within two weeks after visit provided detailed notes of the salesperson and BDC agents involvement after the initial visit or a sale is made on initial visit – or -
d) The customer arrives without an appointment, but every step of the action plan with all e-templates are being sent at the pre-described time with all the information at their disposal and there Is a back-and-forth question answering (via phone or email) that could legitimately have value for a customer and the customer stops in within 72 hours from last phone call attempt or email sent.

Caveat: The only way to get credit for a Phone Up sale or an Internet Lead sale is to follow the action plan set in the CRM, sending out all templates designated on the day they are to be sent out, filling in any information required of said template, all calls are being made/attempted to customers (or connected with customers), and detailed notes are logged in the system defining your work to bring the customer in and/or the customer’s expectations/motives are documented. In other words, MAKE THE CALLS ON TIME, DO YOUR BEST TO LEAVE OR SEND VALUABLE INFORMATION, SEND THE e-Templates ON TIME FILLING IN NECESSARY FIELDS IN SAID TEMPLATES, and follow the complete time-line. Then meet one of the “requirements” listed as 1-6 above and you earn the sale.

As you can see how complicated this is, and I still cannot be 100% certain this is absolutely correct, and I’m not missing anything, I still suggest every sale, if it will be reviewed by Manager anyway, should be taken on a case by case basis to determine its validity.

I’d love to hear your opinion about this over-thought concept. And PLEASE let me know if I’m missing anything on this list.

Joe Webb
DealerKnows Consulting
Gary May
Joe, Joe...Joe. Good stuff. Overcooked? Slightly but still tasty. So while you're on top of this, there is still subjective room. The one thing that is concrete, however, through your entire post is the documentation of contact. If you're in sales (floor, BDC, Internet, etc) and you DON'T completely document EVERYTHING, you have overall issues that don't relate directly 'to the sale'. In other words if you not only want the sale but also relish return, referral and other business, even a solid service customer, it comes from documentation, notes, tracking and more. Not only can you back up that you deserve the voucher, over time the person with the best notes, representation and follow up wins (in my opinion). Documentation eliminates mistakes, costly ones at that, and shows a level of accountability that management looks (or needs to) for. I think that part of the overreaching answer is the fear that your client will assess the pay plan as a mistake or failure. the lengthy definition of how you'll back it up shows a larger fear of recourse within the dealer. Again, great job Joe. You always rock the serious...and the funny!
Dave Erickson
Lots of great details here! I'd like to see manager entering their own notes rather than BDC agent needing to interview the manager to enter notes on behalf of manager. I'd have to assume they had crm record open anyway for background data so unless they have a disability I'd expect them to enter their own notes.
Joe Webb
Absolutely, Gary. Any time you tell an owner that, in order to motivate and properly pay their team for doing significantly more responsibilities, they will always get weary. The unknown of Internet sales and BDC tends to scare people off from ever really investing in it in the first place. @Dave - You too are right. However, in this particular dealer group, sales managers would much rather watch than do. If I felt they'd actually leave notes in the CRM, I'd have made that a point, but I knew I'd be setting that section up for failure. This has to be tweaked based on the structure of the BDC and the people within the dealership.
Bart Wilson
Regarding documentation I find that split protection is the best incentive for salespeople to use their CRM. Not on record, not on the deal. @Joe, thanks for overthinking it. No matter how much of this process is written down situations will always come up that aren't in the book. Someone should be accountable for reviewing each deal. The sales floor and BDC also need to understand that what comes around goes around and everyone needs to play nice (I know that's very Pollyanna and hard to communicate but its true).
David T. Gould
Joe, kinda reminds me of a scene from Monty Python's "Meaning of Life"... qualification / auditing looks a bit complicated... Internet Sales / BDC leads can be qualified as Internet Sales / BDC Leads from inception... (that is the bone of contention I would be interested in your feedback on) ANY appointments / shows / sales resulting should be rewarded (part of pay plan)... Good Selling! DTG

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