Archive for September, 2009

The Art of Lead Follow Up and Management – No Lead Left Behind!

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Internet Leads are another two-edged sword for dealers. On one side they provide opportunities for new sales and on the other side, they require timely follow up and management which can result in lost opportunities.

The key is to understand the dynamics of a typical lead. Most people who go online and submit a lead are basically Shoppers…not Buyers. They are using the Internet for information because they are interested in a particular vehicle but not sold yet. They have a sense of urgency for answers…but in most cases are not ready for a decision yet. They are interested though and really do want follow up before making a decision.

According to Knowledge Storm, the Internet’s top-ranked search resource for technology solutions and information, to get better results with lead follow up and management you must avoid inundating sales reps with the lead qualification duties. Lead generation should not be a collateral duty. It requires dedicated people with specific skills using proper lead “best practice” processes that will produce the much needed greater results.

Give prospects what they value the most…a timely response to their inquiry. Remember, 88% of all leads are more responsive when contacted same day and response timing dictates receptiveness to a call back. This means contacting every lead ASAP because you are most likely to reach someone by phone if you follow up promptly.

Always remember to avoid pre-judging leads because shoppers will turn into buyers if you fulfill their request for information. They may not buy today, but are most likely to make a purchase decision for a vehicle within the next 90 days.

In order to do this, you must use relevant and consistent messaging and follow up with each lead or prospect. Asking the right questions is critical to a successful interaction. Be prepared to commit to specific follow up times and always remember to follow up, then follow up again, and then follow up one more time. You cannot follow up too many times with a lead that has a lifecycle of three months or more.

The Real Challenge with Internet Lead Follow Up and Management

The real problem with effective lead follow up and management is based on the time and action required to contact each lead to answer their questions, provide information, and hopefully obtain an appointment. The challenge is time. Most Internet managers do not have enough time during the day to effectively contact each and every lead because they are working deals, validating inventory, attending sales meetings or even trying to have a day off.

This is why more and more dealers are using a Virtual Business Development Center (VBDC) to control and manage their Internet lead process. The VBDC is a basically an outsourced customer interaction and follow up process that provides human resources that are fully trained and available 24/7 that ensures that all lead and prospect follow up calls are scheduled and fulfilled.

The statistics below are from an article by Tom Mohr, President of Response Logix, published in Digital Dealer Magazine (June 2009). These statistics validate the need for using a VBDC system for follow up processes.

· 80% of car buyers use the Internet to gain an information advantage as they prepare to interview dealers. *This validates the need for a timely response.

· An increasing percentage of Internet Lead shoppers send leads to multiple dealerships (versus just one). Rapid response and effective follow up to Internet leads is the differentiation between dealers and their competitors. *First one to respond has the highest level of close.

· According to J.D. Power’s October 2008 Mystery Shop Results, the average response time on Internet Leads is over 12 hours and 32% of Internet Leads do not get answered at all. *The VBDC provides for a timely response.

· According to a Colbalt /Polk eBusiness study: If there is a response, 55% of the time, the Internet Lead customer receives just one single email (no phone call follow up), even though 32% of these customers buy a vehicle 90 days or more after submitting the lead. *This validates that Int
ernet Leads have a 90 plus day lifecycle and must be followed up on (VBDC opportunity for ongoing follow up).

· According to the July 2008 Capgemini Cars Online study: Faster response times had a direct correlation to higher conversion rates. Citing one example, “Capgemini found that when the automaker responded to a customer web inquiry within 20 minutes, conversion rates were doubled.” *VBDC responding quickly improves overall performance and effectiveness of the lead.

Finding new customers via the Internet is critical to the ongoing growth and success of the car business. This is why it is so important to effectively contact and follow up with each lead to ensure that every opportunity is handled properly. The Virtual BDC provides dealers with a great tool to ensure that No Lead is left Behind!

~ Gary Mitchell

Director, Telephony & Virtual BDC Products, DMEautomotive

The Art of Lead Follow Up and Management – No Lead Left Behind!

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Internet Leads are another two-edged sword for dealers. On one side they provide opportunities for new sales and on the other side, they require timely follow up and management which can result in lost opportunities.

The key is to understand the dynamics of a typical lead. Most people who go online and submit a lead are basically Shoppers…not Buyers. They are using the Internet for information because they are interested in a particular vehicle but not sold yet. They have a sense of urgency for answers…but in most cases are not ready for a decision yet. They are interested though and really do want follow up before making a decision.

According to Knowledge Storm, the Internet’s top-ranked search resource for technology solutions and information, to get better results with lead follow up and management you must avoid inundating sales reps with the lead qualification duties. Lead generation should not be a collateral duty. It requires dedicated people with specific skills using proper lead “best practice” processes that will produce the much needed greater results.

Give prospects what they value the most…a timely response to their inquiry. Remember, 88% of all leads are more responsive when contacted same day and response timing dictates receptiveness to a call back. This means contacting every lead ASAP because you are most likely to reach someone by phone if you follow up promptly.

Always remember to avoid pre-judging leads because shoppers will turn into buyers if you fulfill their request for information. They may not buy today, but are most likely to make a purchase decision for a vehicle within the next 90 days.

In order to do this, you must use relevant and consistent messaging and follow up with each lead or prospect. Asking the right questions is critical to a successful interaction. Be prepared to commit to specific follow up times and always remember to follow up, then follow up again, and then follow up one more time. You cannot follow up too many times with a lead that has a lifecycle of three months or more.

The Real Challenge with Internet Lead Follow Up and Management

The real problem with effective lead follow up and management is based on the time and action required to contact each lead to answer their questions, provide information, and hopefully obtain an appointment. The challenge is time. Most Internet managers do not have enough time during the day to effectively contact each and every lead because they are working deals, validating inventory, attending sales meetings or even trying to have a day off.

This is why more and more dealers are using a Virtual Business Development Center (VBDC) to control and manage their Internet lead process. The VBDC is a basically an outsourced customer interaction and follow up process that provides human resources that are fully trained and available 24/7 that ensures that all lead and prospect follow up calls are scheduled and fulfilled.

The statistics below are from an article by Tom Mohr, President of Response Logix, published in Digital Dealer Magazine (June 2009). These statistics validate the need for using a VBDC system for follow up processes.

· 80% of car buyers use the Internet to gain an information advantage as they prepare to interview dealers. *This validates the need for a timely response.

· An increasing percentage of Internet Lead shoppers send leads to multiple dealerships (versus just one). Rapid response and effective follow up to Internet leads is the differentiation between dealers and their competitors. *First one to respond has the highest level of close.

· According to J.D. Power’s October 2008 Mystery Shop Results, the average response time on Internet Leads is over 12 hours and 32% of Internet Leads do not get answered at all. *The VBDC provides for a timely response.

· According to a Colbalt /Polk eBusiness study: If there is a response, 55% of the time, the Internet Lead customer receives just one single email (no phone call follow up), even though 32% of these customers buy a vehicle 90 days or more after submitting the lead. *This validates that Internet Leads have a 90 plus day lifecycle and must be followed up on (VBDC opportunity for ongoing follow up).

· According to the July 2008 Capgemini Cars Online study: Faster response times had a direct correlation to higher conversion rates. Citing one example, “Capgemini found that when the automaker responded to a customer web inquiry within 20 minutes, conversion rates were doubled.” *VBDC responding quickly improves overall performance and effectiveness of the lead.

Finding new customers via the Internet is critical to the ongoing growth and success of the car business. This is why it is so important to effectively contact and follow up with each lead to ensure that every opportunity is handled properly. The Virtual BDC provides dealers with a great tool to ensure that No Lead is left Behind!

~ Gary Mitchell

Director, Telephony & Virtual BDC Products, DMEautomotive

The Top Five Ways Dealers Alienate their Customers

Friday, September 18th, 2009

  1. Lack of Communication
  2. Poorly handled customer service on the phone – or no answer at all!
  3. Irrelevant messages being sent via mail or email
  4. Poor website lead follow-up – or none at all!
  5. Substandard in-store customer service

The difficulty in establishing and maintaining a positive and effective relationship with your customers is prevalent, but the solution doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s face it, the above problems do exist and there are a lot of people who truly dislike going into dealerships – but your customers can be given an experience that will make them happy to continue coming back to your store for future purchases as well as regular service appointments. Even if your dealership is only guilty of one of the above offenses, correcting the situation is critical.

There are a few different solutions that will solve an array of problems you face with your dealership. The first is a Virtual Business Development Center (BDC). A Virtual BDC provides your customers with effective communication whenever a phone call is made or a lead is generated over the internet. The professional, helpful and friendly interaction will get your customers excited about working with you on the purchase of their new vehicle or service appointment. The Virtual BDC also allows your employees to focus on what their specialty is and provide great service to those customers who are already in your dealership.

The next solution is working closely along the timeline of the Customer Journey. The Customer Journey was developed by experts in the automotive and marketing field who dedicated time, research and energy to developing the most proficient and effective plan of communication on both a sales level and service level. By following this developed plan, you can count on always sending the most appropriate message to each customer when they need it most – and perhaps more importantly, never sending wasteful or unneeded communications, which can alienate your customer as well as become lost funds for your dealership. Following a continual plan of communication throughout each customer’s lifecycle will keep your dealership top of mind.

The last suggestion falls to that of the CSI – Customer Service Index. This is a pivotal part to your dealerships success because as everyone knows, those who have a bad experience are far more likely to talk about it and complain about it than those who have a good experience. It’s imperative that you know how your dealership is doing with all customers on all fronts. The CSI gives you a direct look at each sale and each appointment that your dealership handled, who helped the customer, and asks specific questions about various parts aspects of their visit. The CSI is a great tool to not only let your customers know that you care, but that you are taking proactive steps to improve their visit each and every time.

This approach and communication scheme will instill trust within your customers, which will lead them back through your doors again and again.

~ Amanda Lang

Marketing Coordinator, DMEautomotive

The Top Five Ways Dealers Alienate their Customers

Friday, September 18th, 2009

  1. Lack of Communication
  2. Poorly handled customer service on the phone – or no answer at all!
  3. Irrelevant messages being sent via mail or email
  4. Poor website lead follow-up – or none at all!
  5. Substandard in-store customer service

The difficulty in establishing and maintaining a positive and effective relationship with your customers is prevalent, but the solution doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s face it, the above problems do exist and there are a lot of people who truly dislike going into dealerships – but your customers can be given an experience that will make them happy to continue coming back to your store for future purchases as well as regular service appointments. Even if your dealership is only guilty of one of the above offenses, correcting the situation is critical.

There are a few different solutions that will solve an array of problems you face with your dealership. The first is a Virtual Business Development Center (BDC). A Virtual BDC provides your customers with effective communication whenever a phone call is made or a lead is generated over the internet. The professional, helpful and friendly interaction will get your customers excited about working with you on the purchase of their new vehicle or service appointment. The Virtual BDC also allows your employees to focus on what their specialty is and provide great service to those customers who are already in your dealership.

The next solution is working closely along the timeline of the Customer Journey. The Customer Journey was developed by experts in the automotive and marketing field who dedicated time, research and energy to developing the most proficient and effective plan of communication on both a sales level and service level. By following this developed plan, you can count on always sending the most appropriate message to each customer when they need it most – and perhaps more importantly, never sending wasteful or unneeded communications, which can alienate your customer as well as become lost funds for your dealership. Following a continual plan of communication throughout each customer’s lifecycle will keep your dealership top of mind.

The last suggestion falls to that of the CSI – Customer Service Index. This is a pivotal part to your dealerships success because as everyone knows, those who have a bad experience are far more likely to talk about it and complain about it than those who have a good experience. It’s imperative that you know how your dealership is doing with all customers on all fronts. The CSI gives you a direct look at each sale and each appointment that your dealership handled, who helped the customer, and asks specific questions about various parts aspects of their visit. The CSI is a great tool to not only let your customers know that you care, but that you are taking proactive steps to improve their visit each and every time.

This approach and communication scheme will instill trust within your customers, which will lead them back through your doors again and again.

~ Amanda Lang

Marketing Coordinator, DMEautomotive

Commitment

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I have been involved in the Direct Marketing business for over 15 years and the results never cease to amaze me! I’ve watched dealers go from selling 50 cars a month to 200 per month. I’ve seen dealers cut their budgets in half and still see the same results. Over any other medium, Direct Marketing is the answer. Newspaper statistics are down; ad rates are up – heck they are even trying to sell Direct Mail to stay afloat. Radio has been attacked by the cell phone, iPod and satellite radio. Television and its 300-plus channels make it almost impossible to get to your target without a huge budget. The story goes on…So why aren’t more dealers using Direct Marketing consistently?

The answer is simple – Commitment. Although you will see immediate leads and sales, the true impact of Direct Marketing comes over time. It’s like going to the gym a few times and then giving up on your program. We all know that in order to get into shape, we need to have a balance of diet and exercise. Over time if we make the commitment, we’ll be fit and stay fit. The same thing goes for the stock market, right? Find a sound investment and stick with it. How many of you went to cash a few months back? Bet you wish you stayed the course now.

When done correctly, Direct Marketing involves consistent rotations through a target of customers that have the highest propensity to buy from your store. Although the concept of identifying your ideal target seems daunting, it’s really pretty simple. Consider pulling your customers from your DMS, identifying your top 20 selling zip codes, and then matching that universe with an outsourced prospect list of people driving your make and model and have owned that vehicle for 3 to 5 years. Once this process is finished you have a comprehensive list or “Buying Base”.

Now’s the tough part! Take a large portion of your budget and mail, call, and email these people until they “buy or die” (a multi-channel approach works best). I’m talking about the commitment to contact these customers a minimum of 4-6 times per year. The best approach is to put a consistent rotation together where you literally have communications going out weekly.

Results will vary from week to week to week – like the gym and stock market. But if you stay the course, your sales will increase and you will dominate your market.

Tip: Consider using a sales message on the front and a service message on the back of your mail pieces. The ROI from ROs generated will more than pay for your programs.

~

Scott Scully, DMEautomotive

Commitment

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I have been involved in the Direct Marketing business for over 15 years and the results never cease to amaze me! I’ve watched dealers go from selling 50 cars a month to 200 per month. I’ve seen dealers cut their budgets in half and still see the same results. Over any other medium, Direct Marketing is the answer. Newspaper statistics are down; ad rates are up – heck they are even trying to sell Direct Mail to stay afloat. Radio has been attacked by the cell phone, iPod and satellite radio. Television and its 300-plus channels make it almost impossible to get to your target without a huge budget. The story goes on…So why aren’t more dealers using Direct Marketing consistently?

The answer is simple – Commitment. Although you will see immediate leads and sales, the true impact of Direct Marketing comes over time. It’s like going to the gym a few times and then giving up on your program. We all know that in order to get into shape, we need to have a balance of diet and exercise. Over time if we make the commitment, we’ll be fit and stay fit. The same thing goes for the stock market, right? Find a sound investment and stick with it. How many of you went to cash a few months back? Bet you wish you stayed the course now.

When done correctly, Direct Marketing involves consistent rotations through a target of customers that have the highest propensity to buy from your store. Although the concept of identifying your ideal target seems daunting, it’s really pretty simple. Consider pulling your customers from your DMS, identifying your top 20 selling zip codes, and then matching that universe with an outsourced prospect list of people driving your make and model and have owned that vehicle for 3 to 5 years. Once this process is finished you have a comprehensive list or “Buying Base”.

Now’s the tough part! Take a large portion of your budget and mail, call, and email these people until they “buy or die” (a multi-channel approach works best). I’m talking about the commitment to contact these customers a minimum of 4-6 times per year. The best approach is to put a consistent rotation together where you literally have communications going out weekly.

Results will vary from week to week to week – like the gym and stock market. But if you stay the course, your sales will increase and you will dominate your market.

Tip: Consider using a sales message on the front and a service message on the back of your mail pieces. The ROI from ROs generated will more than pay for your programs.

~

Scott Scully, DMEautomotive

Outsourced Call Centers

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Outsourced call centers are the most effective way to stay in consistent contact with your past customers. It can also be a catalyst to create new ones. Many dealerships feel they can take care of this on their own. Well, you can’t…especially if your sales people are responsible for maintaining the relationships. You need your sales people spending time with the prospects on the lot, not with customers on the phone. Outsourced call centers will save you time and money.

Keep your sales people locked in. Allow them to focus on the next sale. Every sale is valuable right now…especially as we move into the latter months of the year. You need to streamline your customer communication on every level. And a dedicated, specialized, industry focused call center is the best approach. It is also the most measureable.

The right call center can make all the difference in the world. It will be a centralized place where everything from CSI follow-up to new sales & service generation can be handled. An added value to using an outsourced call center is the wide range of information that is made available to you. You’ll receive clear, concise and accurate information from a neutral third party. Customers are more likely to give information to a third party than when speaking directly with the dealership.

In addition, the opinions and ideas you’ll receive from a call center will allow you to consistently improve your programs and processes. The correct data and script is paramount when attempting to create and maintain relationships with your customers. The agents making the calls are trained on specific programs and will be able to give recommendations based on the feedback they receive.

In summary, utilizing the right outsourced call center will create a new dynamic in your selling and retention process. The call center will generate new leads while your reps can focus on closing. Creating that cyclical motion will both save money in costs and increase revenue.

Outsourced Call Centers

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Outsourced call centers are the most effective way to stay in consistent contact with your past customers. It can also be a catalyst to create new ones. Many dealerships feel they can take care of this on their own. Well, you can’t…especially if your sales people are responsible for maintaining the relationships. You need your sales people spending time with the prospects on the lot, not with customers on the phone. Outsourced call centers will save you time and money.

Keep your sales people locked in. Allow them to focus on the next sale. Every sale is valuable right now…especially as we move into the latter months of the year. You need to streamline your customer communication on every level. And a dedicated, specialized, industry focused call center is the best approach. It is also the most measureable.

The right call center can make all the difference in the world. It will be a centralized place where everything from CSI follow-up to new sales & service generation can be handled. An added value to using an outsourced call center is the wide range of information that is made available to you. You’ll receive clear, concise and accurate information from a neutral third party. Customers are more likely to give information to a third party than when speaking directly with the dealership.

In addition, the opinions and ideas you’ll receive from a call center will allow you to consistently improve your programs and processes. The correct data and script is paramount when attempting to create and maintain relationships with your customers. The agents making the calls are trained on specific programs and will be able to give recommendations based on the feedback they receive.

In summary, utilizing the right outsourced call center will create a new dynamic in your selling and retention process. The call center will generate new leads while your reps can focus on closing. Creating that cyclical motion will both save money in costs and increase revenue.