It’s been a long hot summer. Especially for Japanese-branded dealers with earthquake-driven inventory constraints that have stunted sales opportunity during some of the most critical months of the year. And all dealers have weathered the effects of a troubled economy. So what’s next?
Simple arithmetic may finally be working in the dealer’s favor. Due to the prolonged recession, the average age of vehicles on the road has risen to a staggering 9.9 years. Scrappage rates have exceeded sales rates in recent periods, a trend that obviously can’t continue. And now with four months of strangled inventory driving up prices, consumers have just spent another third of a year largely sitting on the sidelines. All of this can mean only one thing: pent up demand.
Barring some unexpected catastrophe, there is every reason to expect that September and October in particular should be strong sales months. The key, of course, is for you to take full advantage of it.
So, how do you ensure that when the feeding frenzy begins, they eat at your banquet? It all starts with your lead management process. Leads are the lifeblood of Internet sales. Each lead is precious. And the arrival of a lead is the moment of truth. The consumer behind that lead has sent it to three to four other dealers. You need to have in place a structure, staffing level, technology and plan to ensure the following:
- A multi-vehicle price quote sent back to the customer in 10 minutes.
- That quote should include both new and used alternatives, with full vehicle information, all updated incentives and the contact information of the salesperson.
- The first phone call to the customer, held within 20 minutes of lead arrival (every time).
- If the customer is contacted, a thoughtfully scripted call, referencing the price quote and leading towards an appointment.
- If the customer is not immediately reached, a 14-day follow-up process, mixing in email and phone follow-up.
To reliably deliver this experience, lead after lead, time after time, takes careful planning. If you receive less than 100 leads a month, you need everyone from the receptionist to the GSM in on the minute-by-minute task of achieving these outcomes. In fact, if you have less than 100 leads a month, one of your biggest priorities is to drive up close rate on those leads to north of 10%, so you can afford to buy more leads (either by improved dealer website SEO, SEM or third party lead buys).
Because only after you have leads in the 250+ range are you in a position to reliably deliver on one key piece to the puzzle: the first phone call within 20 minutes. At that level of leads, you can probably hire one or two appointment setters to support a two-person Internet sales team. It gets better as you grow. A reliable 20 minute phone call is best achieved with a seven day a week, 10 hour a day BDC working in support of an Internet sales team. But, such a team only becomes feasible when lead volume approaches 500 leads a month.
The point is this: you need to sell your way to higher lead volume. You need the cash flow from increased sales to pay for lead volume growth, which in turn drives higher sales, which in turn allows you to build out a BDC, which can reliably reach the customer within 20 minutes of lead arrival every time. This is the hard-won virtuous cycle: the more sales you can drive from your leads, the more you can pay for more leads, and the more you’re in a position to convert those additional leads into sales.
So, as you prepare to seize your unfair share of the sales in September and October, start with your lead management process. With a powerful process, you will be in position to win big.