In my experience (and research concurs), the average customer makes a vehicle purchase approximately 50 days after they initially inquire. So I developed a 50 Day Timeline for handling your leads. The goal is to ensure that leads don’t get marked “lost” or “dead” too soon. And even if they don’t buy now - you want them to remember your name and your dealership. Follow-up is crucial. At the same time, however, you don't want to bother your prospects with too many emails or phone calls.
We will begin with day 1, arguably the most important, and follow the process over the next few weeks, somewhat mirroring the time it takes a consumer to make a vehicle purchase.
Note: For a proactive customer who keeps in good contact, please modify this system as needed to suit your customer’s needs. This model should remain fluid for each customer; you want them to feel that they are getting individualized answers, not generic responses.
The goal is to keep in contact periodically for the first 50 days OR until the prospect “buys or dies” or says, “don’t contact me again.”
Hypothetical scenario: Lead comes in at 8:30 am on a Monday morning and you are at home, scheduled to be at the dealership at 9:00.
8:35-8:40 am Day 1: Send the prospect a brief 3 or 4 line personalized response from your BlackBerry, or other hand-held, using the 4 key elements mentioned on my last BlackBerry Etiquette blog. If you have an automatic email responder set-up, it is important to wait a few moments after the lead first appears on your BlackBerry before you send this personalized response.
9:00 am (approx.) Day 1: Assuming you are at the dealership now, call your prospect. (It is also fine to call from your cell phone if you prefer, as this way you will be responding sooner!).
If you talk with the prospect make notes and document the conversation. Documentation of all contacts with your leads helps prevent any problems of miscommunication when it comes time for the buying process. After the phone call send a detailed response to the prospect answering all of their questions and addressing all of their comments. Most prospects are interested in knowing the following:
Is the vehicle I want in stock?
Are there additional costs?
Can you offer me a better price than a competing dealership?
What is my trade worth?
What will my financing rate be, and are there any special offers?
How do I qualify for the Loan, Credit Application?
When can I take delivery?
What type options are available to add to my vehicle?
There is no need to address all of these points in your initial e-mail. However, you should be sure to address those that the prospect specifically mentioned in their original request.
Finally, if you are successful in reaching the prospect by phone, be sure to thank them in the e-mail for taking the time to talk with you. Conclude with a line that states when you will attempt to contact them by phone again, and encourage them to call or email with any questions they may have. Once you have sent this response, set the next contact date to the following day.
Take time to think this process over and we'll continue next time with the next steps. Happy selling!