If you ever trained how to handle an Internet lead, you’ve heard this phrase a thousand times.
“Read the Lead!”
Do you know all of the steps to actually read the lead effectively? I frequently ask what it means to read the lead when training dealers. Typically, they say all it entails is checking the vehicle is available, seeing if they can answer any questions, and that’s it. There is much more to it than that to properly read the lead, and doing it right determines how successful you will be at converting each prospect into a client.
What are the 10 Steps to Read the Lead Correctly?
Step 1: What Vehicle Do They Want?
Simply put, before you pick up the phone and call or craft a personalized first response email/text to this shopper, you need to be aware of its availability and familiar with a few of the vehicle’s details. They’re statistically more likely to buy than if the lead was submitted on a generic make, model, or trim if the vehicle is in stock.
Step 2: What is the Prospect’s Name?
Make sure the name is in the proper formatting. If the name is listed in all CAPS or with no capitalized letters, most CRMs’ merge fields will send out emails/texts with the prospect’s name like that. Go into the customer profile and correct the capitalization to prevent that from happening. And then make sure you know how to pronounce their name. It seems like something not worth mentioning, but it never feels good to butcher someone’s name when you’re live on the phone with them. Practice saying it, or research the pronunciation if you can.
Step 3: What is the Lead Source?
The lead source provides insight into the shopper’s expectations, including if they’re high-funnel or low-funnel. An organic lead source, 3rd party lead source, OEM lead source, or social lead source give different clues into their probability of purchasing. Regardless, you should often address the lead source in your response and create separate templates for each unique source to deliver a targeted message.
Step 4: What is the Email Address?
Many will ask why this is even important. The shopper’s email address may mention their place of work, their school, or their interests. For that reason, the email address allows us to glean valuable information we can use when replying, often allowing us to cater our invites to them.
Step 5: Do They Have a Phone Number?
If a phone number is present, you can immediately prepare yourself for your outbound call. If it is an out-of-town area code, this also gives insight into preparing your call. Some CRMs allow you to opt-in the customer to text as well. Regardless, know this is a valuable piece of data as it enables us two different methods to open immediate communication with them.
Step 6: Where Do They Live?
Many lead submission forms (or chat providers) will attempt to capture zip codes. Where the prospect lives will play a significant role in the likelihood of their inevitable purchase. If they live out of market, it most certainly will come up in conversation, so they might as well address it early on. Shoppers will seek far and wide for the right vehicle, so do not abandon a lead because they live out of the area.
Instead, that information allows you to change the messaging and the invite. Their address or zip code may show they live locally, which also is beneficial in conversations. If you have sold others in their area (or maybe you live in their neighborhood), that information dramatically assists in building rapport.
Step 7: Do They Have a Trade-in?
Trade info can shape how we invite them in and the deal language we use in our emails/texts. Not only are we constantly seeking trade-ins, but the prospect including this information (along with the lead source) may tell us if their trade was the impetus for submitting the lead or if it was secondary information we can use. Either way, this gives us a valuable second element to include in our messaging and invitations.
Step 7: Are They a Previous Customer?
While some CRMs will automatically funnel a previous customer’s new lead to the original salesperson, none do. It is essential to review any sales history we have with them. If so, we must acknowledge their previous engagement with our dealership and not treat them like an entirely new prospect. (No car sales training is complete without improving customer retention.) thank them for considering us again and start the discussion as it engages with an old friend.
Step 8: Is This a Duplicate Lead?
Based on most CRMs and the positioning of prospect data on the screen, you’d find out if a lead were a duplicate here on the customer profile page as you’re scanning the page. (Hopefully, your team is being alerted to duplicate leads as well as fresh leads.) You need to compare the new lead data with their past submitted leads. Have they changed their vehicle of interest and provided new buying time frames? Have they connected with us through a new lead provider? Have they given us updated contact info to reach them? A duplicate lead is not a “bad” lead. Just one that allows us the opportunity to pivot our discussion points rather than starting from scratch.
Step 9: Is There Activity?
Lead buckets and customer profiles are like cookie jars in some CRMs. Before reaching out, confirm that another team member hasn’t contacted the shopper. Has anyone attempted to communicate with them? Has the shopper responded to any questions asked of them from any intuitive autoresponders or AI software? Just be sure that any additional communication is considered when reaching out—every time.
Step 10: Have you Read the Lead?
Wait a second, Joe, I thought, is that what you were walking me through. Yes. But the true lead often comes in ADF/XML code formatting and is displayed at the bottom of the customer’s profile (in most CRMs). In that section where the lead was submitted, they may have asked questions, written notes, made an offer, or provided context into what they’re expecting from you.
While some of these are auto-generated by the lead provider, many shoppers share what they truly need or want to learn from us. Every note a prospect included needs to be addressed in our contact attempt. Once you have read the additional details, it never hurts to open the ADF/XML version of the lead and double-check any data you missed to craft the best first response.
And NOW you have read the lead. As you can see, it is not as simple as glancing at the vehicle. To read the lead correctly, you must use all data provided to you by the CRM, the lead provider, and the shopper. Do not get into the habit of handling all leads similarly when you can use all information at your disposal to craft an articulate, targeted message to your future customer. Learning to read the lead is typically the first task taught to Internet Managers and, sadly, one of the last they master.
Bonus Step: Know Your Inventory
This one is so simple. If you’re not going to read your customer, you don’t want to drop the ball when it comes to knowing everything about the vehicles on your lot.
Now that you’ve learned how to read the lead go one step further and learn how to handle duplicate leads?