By Chris Martin, SVP of Customer Development, Client Command®
If your dealership has a list named “forever changed by Covid-19”, go ahead and add Leads to it. For years, we watched the number of leads decline as shoppers did whatever they could to avoid the inevitable sales attack they have become used to in automotive. 2020 changed the game. Dealerships upped their online retailing game driving new ways for consumers to submit a lead.
The trouble is, without intention, sales teams are likely to apply the same old sales tactics and assume that a higher number of leads will automatically translate into more sales. And the reality is, consumers don’t want to be sold, they want to start a conversation.
It is critical to look at what happens with your sales team once a lead is submitted. Here are a few tips to consider.
1. Shift the paradigm to “Starting a conversation”
Shape your team’s Mentality
Let’s face it, dealerships don’t have a reputation for putting the consumer first. Recently there has been a shift in automotive geared towards experience, but unfortunately, we are pushing up against ghosts from decades of experiences by customers. To win today, we must help sales teams think first about establishing a connection versus pressuring for an immediate sale. It’s up to us to remind our teams every day, a lead is an invitation from a shopper to start a conversation. For salespeople to get their desired result, they must switch the paradigm.
Redefine their goal
People do what is measured and rewarded. To have a team adopt a paradigm shift, it must come with corresponding goals. Creating goals that hold salespeople accountable to how quickly and how conversationally they engage leads will help your team change their mentality.
Help your team build new habits
Create talk tracks around each type of lead you are receiving. These talk tracks need to be centered around the customer’s experience. Once you have created the talk tracks and have shared them with your team, it’s time to practice. Role play these conversations with your team to accelerate buy-in and create familiarity with what is likely a brand-new approach to each customer.
2. Follow the lead’s lead.
Pay attention to communication Channel:
Gone are the days where you engage every lead with a phone call. If a shopper contacts you via email, they expect an email back. When a customer sends in a chat on your website, they don’t immediately want you to ask for their phone number, they want the information they are requesting to be answered within their chat conversation. Your dealership is taking the steps to meet the shoppers where they are. Now, maximize this new technology to engage shoppers in a way that leads to a sale, service visits and a long-term relationship.
Pick up the conversation THEY start:
Digital retailing tools create new reasons for potential customers to fill out a lead form. It is no longer likely for every lead to stem from a VDP page with someone ready to book an appointment to take a test drive. Your team must be prepared to pay attention to why a shopper reached out and match your conversation to the shopper. A great place to start is to audit every different way a shopper can submit a lead and provide strategies for your team on how to cater the conversation based on their entry point into your CRM.
Customers are on their timeline, not yours:
Dealers consistently tell me they are barely able to keep up with the leads they receive. Most dealers have follow-up processes for leads that last only 15 days. Based on our data, the average customer takes upwards of 70+ days to make a vehicle purchase. They are lower funnel when they submit a lead, but the customer still may take weeks to purchase. Plan for how your team can maximize the leads you receive through multiple follow ups in the first few days and then consistency with the customer through other tools for weeks.
I recently spoke with a dealer gaining market share and growing their gross profit. He attributes his success to a paradigm shift, changing how his team communicates with customers. The team now makes customers feel like his team is there for them, willing to prioritize the customer’s needs and in turn, their profits.
The game was already changing before the events of 2020, the difference is, now, your dealership must embrace that consumers expect something new and their money goes where those expectations are met. Set your team up for success by implementing a new mentality about leads. Meet the consumers where they are, and you’ll see the sales roll in.
About the Author
Chris Martin is the SVP of Customer Development for Client Command. For 17 years, Chris has worked closely with dealers to understand their goals and align Client Command’s industry-leading data and marketing solutions to drive results for their businesses.