For online vehicle sales, the Internet is the modern incarnation of the old saying “the early bird gets the worm.” Customers will come to the dealership of the first salesperson answering quickly and effectively to their needs. Are you that dealership and salesperson? You need to be if you want the most sales.
To respond the quickest, you must have the right processes and tools. For processes, guess what? You need to CALL an Internet lead FIRST. The objective is to convert the Internet lead to the phone and then to the floor, anyway, so if you can cut directly to the phone call you’re already faster than much of your competition. If you reach the customer via phone, email them a confirmation of the call and of the appointment. If you instead reach their voice mail, leave a message with another person, or get no answer, adjust your email to mention that fact along with your response on the customer’s needs and questions. And answer as many leads as you can during your off hours, too, by the way—don’t let all those just linger on the auto-responder. And don’t be afraid to call on a Sunday afternoon.
That brings up a common challenge that I hear to this point: What if the Internet lead you get says not to call? Don’t put a lot of faith in that: Most often, a lead showing “email only” is actually generated that way by some default selection that the customer never even noticed or it is a selection that the lead provider decided on behalf of the customer. Over the years of doing this and making a lot of sales, I’ve always called customers first then emailed—and it has only been a handful of customers who’ve ever been put off by my call. My point is that we should always manage our business to our core customers and not to the exceptions—most folks take the call, and if you’re not making that first call then you’re not going to win your most sales. You’re going to get beat.
Your desking managers also need to know to always give the best Internet price the first time. You won’t get a second chance. And a good Internet sales staff should get a lot of access to pricing and program information to support that effort, so that they know what to ask for from the desking managers in order to get the fastest and most-competitive quotes.
And tools are very important: A good Internet Lead Manager (ILM) and Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) will alert you via phone, email, etc. that you have a lead, and then provide tracking of the lead through the sales process, starting with the autoresponder and on to email templates for pricing, appointments, etc. Those templates are very important, as they greatly reduce spelling and grammar errors. Errors like that can turn off even uneducated customers—everyone wants great service, and great service on the Internet starts with proper language.
And those email templates need to do more than just provide information: They need to be aimed at getting the customer on the phone and into the store. Fewer words and more calls to action will get that done. And don’t be shy about asking for the appointment, for their best contact phone number, for them to call you, and for their business.
After all, you want customers into your dealership and buying a vehicle as soon as possible. So, to get what you want—lots of Internet sales!—give them what they want. And give it to them fast!