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Phil DuPree

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Leads Are People Too


Imagine the following scenario: a customer (let’s call her Sally) walks into your showroom on a busy Saturday. The salesperson who is supposed to greet her takes one look and wrinkles his nose. “She’s not going to buy today,” he grumbles, and ignores her. Sally walks up to the salesperson and asks, “Can I get a price on a certain car?” The salesperson responds by offering to show her the model she’s interested in. Sally asks again, “Actually, can I just get the price? I’m probably not going to buy today but I want to know who can give me the best deal.” The salesperson rolls his eyes and walks away.

How long do you think that salesperson would last? Do you think Sally would return to buy a car from him? Probably not.

Yet this is exactly how some salespeople treat online customers.

When leads come in from either the dealer’s own web site or a third party lead provider, many salespeople “cherry pick” based on how quickly they think the leads will close. Or, it takes them several hours to respond, and then they evade the question of price and try to set an appointment. Do you think these salespeople sell many cars? Probably not.

The fact is, leads are people too. Just because that person is not on your lot does not mean it’s okay to ignore them. Just because they want several dealerships to give them a price does not mean they’re going to buy from the salesperson who quotes the lowest price. It’s important to treat online customers with as much attentiveness as you would a walk-in customer. The same best practices apply, with slightly different twists:

• Treat All Leads the Same. Seasoned sales veterans know you can’t judge a book by its cover. So how can you know by looking at a lead if someone will buy or not?

 • Respond Quickly. Every lead should receive some form of response within a few minutes, and no more than 30 minutes.

• Greet Them Warmly. Thank them for giving you the opportunity to help them, then answer their questions, including price! If you don’t quote a price, right away you are eroding trust. The customer who wants a price is probably going to engage with the first salesperson who gives them one.

• Suggest Alternatives. If the customer is asking about a certain model, provide them with alternatives in that price range, as well as pre-owned options. According to AutoNation, half the people who submitted new car leads ended up buying used.

• Be Persistent. If unable to connect, the salesperson should follow up with at least five phone calls and nine e-mails over 90 days. Remember, the average selling time from an original inquiry is more than 30 days.

• Confirm Appointments. You’d be surprised how many salespeople fail to follow this critical best practice.

When leads come into the CRM, try to visualize each one as a person sitting in front of you. Whether a lead or a walk-in, the goal should be to establish rapport, give prompt service and treat the customer with respect.

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