In the early days of internet lead departments, BDC representatives held the ultimate leverage: knowledge. Dealership websites presented far less information than they do now. Third-party sites had not yet taken off. Customers could browse and submit leads online, but if they wanted to know exactly what was in stock, or an accurate vehicle price, they needed to actually speak to a person. Thus, for BDC reps, the lead follow-up call was simple: provide the customer with their missing information, set the appointment, and watch the leads turn into floor-ups.
For better or for worse, this exclusive access to knowledge allowed BDC reps to stretch the truth, telling customers what they wanted to hear in order to set the appointment. Sure, we have that vehicle, or can order it right away– even if they didn’t, or couldn’t– were common phrases to bring customers in the door. And car shoppers, used to visiting far more dealerships than they do today, were more accepting of these practices.
These days, access to knowledge has shifted to the customer. With the help of vast internet resources, customers are able not only to educate themselves, but to understand immediately when the BDC lacks knowledge, lies about inventory, or equivocates about price. Today’s car shopper comes prepared, and expects an experience guided by their needs – not the dealership’s– so BDCs that still lack transparency not only damage their reputation with customers. They also lose out to competition willing to be more forthcoming.
But in the age of internet data, it’s not only customers who have more information about dealerships. Dealerships also have more information about customers. By thoroughly reading and understanding the lead information that comes into their CRMs, dealerships can regain leverage: the leverage to start a conversation with leads that is truly valuable and customized to their interests. In this way, they can move customers along the buying process and into the showroom– and away from the competition.
Your CRM data: the leverage to reach customers more effectively
With good lead capture tools, your CRM contains information far more extensive than merely the vehicle customers converted on. You can see the amount of time shoppers spent on your site, the pages they viewed, and the VDPs they checked out– and how many times, and for how long. This information allows the BDC to move beyond offering general help to truly engaging the customer with relevant information. CRM data can be rich enough to tell a story about each customer, allowing your team to build real relationships with leads. This is powerful leverage: the ability to provide tailored assistance and build loyalty– when the competition likely is not.
Consider, for example, a shopper whose CRM lead data indicates multiple visits to your specials page prior to conversion, as well as economy model VDP views. These data points are not distinct, but rather tell the story of a price-sensitive customer. Armed with this knowledge, your BDC can call the lead and have a conversation guided by a focus on pricing. This technique can be subtle: the rep does not have to say the words “I see from your behavior on our site that price is important to you” – instead, they can use that knowledge to provide information they know is relevant and important to the customer. Or, you might see a lead in your CRM who has spent multiple visits over a number of weeks viewing the same VDP before converting. The call in this case can focus on specific features of this car– and the BDC rep can take a few moments before the call to make sure they are fully prepared for questions about this vehicle. Having those answers builds trust, but not having them can turn customers off.
CRM lead data can also tell you where shoppers are in the buying funnel. A shopper who has spent focused time looking at the same, or similar vehicles, is probably more ready to come in for an appointment, whereas someone with broader viewing behaviors may need more help focusing their search. Knowing this in advance can guide the BDC rep to have a conversation that is more valuable for the customer– and more profitable for the dealership.
Make the connection– and the sale– with data-driven follow up
Too often, BDC reps overlook this lead information. They are in such a rush to book the appointment that they don’t take the time to get to know these crucial details about what their shoppers actually want. And in so doing, they give up the leverage they could have when they make the call. In an age when shoppers typically visit only one or two dealerships, this oversight can lead to missed opportunities and lost revenue. By taking just a few moments to prepare, your BDC can provide customers with the tailored shopping experience they want before they even walk through your showroom doors.
Understanding lead data before making follow-up calls enables your BDC reps to build your client base more effectively and outpace the competition. Information and transparency don’t have to make life harder for your BDC– they can actually help them bring more customers to your dealership.
Matt Waterman is a Regional Sales Manager at AutoLeadStar, which specializes in Artificial Intelligence for dealerships. He got into the auto industry during his college years at Northwood University, starting his career in the BDC of a high-line multi brand store in south Florida. After this stint in marketing, he moved to work in sales, first at a BMW dealership and later for an independent dealer specializing in exotics and collectables. Cars are Matt’s life and passion, and he can’t imagine working anywhere but automotive. EMAIL: email@example.com.