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

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

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