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An Often Overlooked Lo-Tech Pitfall of Hi-Tech Dealerships

Examples of poor follow-up techniques to “internet leads” are a dime a dozen.

And while it can feel like a waste of time to keep following up with an unresponsive lead or prospect, have you ever asked yourself – is their “unresponsiveness” the result of something you did or did NOT do right?

You only get one chance to make a great first impression!

For months now, I have been studying each of our dealership’s initial responses, and follow-up frequency to internet leads and its effect on our lead to show rate.

A study recently published by Pied Piper and summarized here by Jeff , shows that many dealerships continue to struggle with effective responses to internet leads.

Bad Habits of Automotive BDC Depts
An often overlooked component of the BDC first response is the answer to the customer’s question.

An often-overlooked component of the first response is the answer to the customer’s question

All things considered, I’ve uncovered some common practices of ineffective internet departments that are alienating, potential customers. I’m sure you’re wondering what these departments and agents are doing to derail the possibility of earning a customer.

Well, it isn’t what they are doing that is such a glaring problem… it’s what they are failing to do. Answering The Customer’s Questions!

It should be easy. Yet, many ISM’s or BDC staff are exhibiting this same neglectful behavior, and I can’t for the life of me understand why.

In my experience, it has always been the more hands on and engaged prospects who are the most likely to become customers. This logic can be applied to all retail operations. The customer at Best Buy asking the  hard questions is clearly a more informed customer and probably knows more about what they are looking for. They’ve done their research, they know what they want (more or less) and are ready to buy. Say the right things and there is a good chance you’ll earn this customers’ business.

While we get dozens of internet leads per day from our basic ePricer, “What’s the bottom line here?” which more often than not come through with nothing in the comments section. It is the customers who take the few additional moments to ask more in-depth questions that I find most valuable and most likely to give us a chance to sell them a car.

I’m sure at one time, just answering a customer’s inquiry generally may have been enough to get them in the door. I’m sure back in the day plenty of dealerships may have been guilty of internet inquiry neglect and back then it may have been okay. Today’s internet car shopper is much more sophisticated and requires far more attention and pleasing in order to attract them to the dealership. Consumers have more access to information than ever before, so it is very important to make them feel special and be memorable.

For this reason it is imperative that we no longer overlook one of the greatest pitfalls in earning a customers business. When a customer asks a particular question, answer their question as best as possible (in your first response) while providing and any additional helpful, accurate information!

I challenge every dealership to shop themselves and measure the effectiveness of your internet department’s first response. Go beyond just filling out a simple …Name, Number, Email – challenge your team by asking specific questions. Ask something that requires a little bit of legwork or thought.

Example Questions: “Is this vehicle available in blue?” – “What are the benefits of leasing this vehicle vs. Buying it?” – “How much would it cost for me to add WeatherTech floor mats and a rear spoiler?”

You may also want to consider doing  the same to your three closest competitors. Learn who responds well and who doesn’t. Having a good idea of how your competitors’ follow up with their internet prospects can be helpful in allocating PPC funds and developing new SEO strategies to conquest business.

Take Action: Over the next few days, take some time and review your current first responses to internet leads. What did you find out? What’s good and what’s not. Take note and share your findings or any additional ideas or opinions here on this thread in the forums.

Dan Mondello is a true “Car Guy” – his first word (as a baby) was “Vehicle” and while in college Dan worked part time as a Corvette Restorat...