After mystery shopping countless dealers over the years, some of the glaring needs we see are a basic process for handling leads. Over time, we’ve been able to determine a few of the basic steps your dealership must take when properly managing ongoing follow-up with your potential clients.
Step #1: Give them what they asked for and be generous with the information.
This seems pretty basic, but, still to this day, the good majority of customer questions go unanswered in the first email. It is well known that if you can answer any specific questions the inquiring customer asked, offer multiple pricing options, and give truthful information regarding inventory, availability, builds, prices, and incentives, you are on your way to building trust with the customer.
Step #2: Endear yourself to the customer.
As the saying goes, people buy from people they like. However, in automotive Internet, you need to go one step further. People buy from those they respect and appear willing to go above and beyond to earn their business. This is why so many have seen success stem from performing actions as simple as including a personal picture of themselves in the emails, shooting a quick walk-around video of the customer’s desired vehicle, sending Why Buy from Me’s, and emailing personal video introductions. You can’t build a relationship with someone you don’t know.
Step #3: Build value in your dealership
An Internet shopper can buy their desired vehicle from anywhere. When it comes to new cars, they can get the same car in the same color with the same options/features/specs at the same price or lower from your competitor right down the street. They can get the same finance rate or lower. They can get the same trade-in value or higher from them too. So what really is it (besides your people) that separates your dealership from the rest? What is your Value Proposition? What do you offer that others don’t? Being “family-owned and operated” doesn’t always translate the way you think it does to a consumer. So make sure you have an email template or Value Proposition with something that a customer might be able to attach a dollar value to.
Step #4: Detail the process
In ALL of our mystery shops, the Internet Manager says the same thing. Paraphrasing – “We have a special process in place to make this the best no-hassle purchasing experience for you.” Well that is all well and good, but not EVERYONE can have the best process. And what is your in-store process anyway? Why don’t you tell them what will happen when they arrive? People are submitting leads because they are afraid of the unknown. Put a detailed process of what events/activities will they can expect to transpire when they arrive for their appointment.
Step #5: Sell the brand
This is the LAST thing you need to do… not the first. The manufacturer already spends millions and millions of dollars selling the virtues of their brand. The customer submitted a lead on that brand so they at least are considering it in the mix. At one point in your lead management process, you will need to re-sell them on the brand, most specifically, against the other makes the consumer is considering. However, this can certainly be one of the latter messages/topics you are sending to your Internet shoppers. They’ve likely uncovered enough to sell themselves on it one way or another in their research phase so focus on Steps 1-4 first.
If you give them what they ask for with multiple options, sell yourself, your process, your dealership, and your brand – in that order – you will convert more Internet shoppers to In-store customers through your email and phone communications