2 Steps Toward Increasing Your Sales By Redefining Leads

Today’s most successful dealers are redefining sales leads by digging into their data to connect the online and in-store shopping experiences

If there’s one thing that every dealership—large and small, independent and franchise—has in common, it’s that it is constantly looking for ways to convert more leads to appointments—and ultimately, to sales.

Most dealers know there is more they could be doing to improve lead-to-appointment ratios, but many fail to recognize the opportunities right under their nose.

Most of us have been taught to understand leads as people who come right out and explicitly tell us, via email, over the phone, or in person, that they would like to buy a car. But in today’s modern car-shopping world, you’re losing dollars if you wait for customers to raise their hand before you start treating them like leads.

Today’s car shoppers spend 60% percent—nearly nine hours—of their car-buying experience online. And the crux of their decision-making happens online; 38% of buyers only visited the dealership they purchased the vehicle from, and more than half of all buyers only test drive one vehicle.

So, if you wait for a customer to make that phone call to you before you start selling to them, you’re not reaching them until they are already more than halfway done with their car-buying experience.

If you want to edge out your competition, it’s time to rethink who is considered a “lead.” Today’s most successful dealers are proactively taking two important steps to make that shift: (1) digging into their data, and (2) connecting the online and in-store shopping experiences.

1. Dig into the data

Most dealers recognize that data is valuable to their business, but for data to really pay dividends, you have to actually use it. This is where many dealers hit a roadblock.

Data can be complicated and unclear, so don’t try to figure it out on your own. There are many tools readily available to help you maximize your profits by interpreting your data.

One of the most underappreciated tools, especially when it comes to identifying leads before they raise their hand, is a website behavior–tracking tool.

Each tool is a bit different, but they all provide insight into the exact actions your customers are taking online: which pages they viewed, what they clicked on, etc. This type of data allows you to spot “leads” before they ever reach out to you, and deliver specific offers to those customers based on what they’re browsing online.

Some website behavior–tracking tools will integrate with your CRM, giving you the opportunity to set up alerts when customers are currently online or viewing a specific offer.

By considering certain customers a lead by being online—instead of waiting for them to send you an email—you open the door for additional sales that were previously being lost to competitors who are more proactively selling.

2. Connect the customer experience

Most dealers recognize that the car-buying experience begins online, but many haven’t adjusted their dealership processes accordingly.

Far too often, customers walk into a dealership knowing the car they want, with their paperwork already filled out online, only to discover no one on the showroom floor has any idea who they are or what they’re looking for.

You only have 90 minutes with a customer before their satisfaction begins to nosedive. Dealerships can’t afford to spend that time regathering and reentering info the customer has already provided, let alone cleaning up errors produced by double entry.

Specific processes for creating this connection, and consequently seeing better lead-to-sale ratios, are critical. Does your BDC know how and when to pass off customer info to sales? Does your sales team know where to find customer website behavior history? Are customer forms easily accessible to the right team members?

Most of the tools needed to facilitate these processes can be found in your CRM and website behavior tracker, but you must ensure your team is trained to use these tools in an effective process.

Take the initiative to dig into your data and connect your customers’ online and in-store experiences, and you’ll identify leads sooner—and make more sales.

Mo Zahabi is the director of sales and product consulting at VinSolutions, a Cox Automotive brand, which integrates systems and tools to deliver a single view of the customer across a dealership, so dealers can maintain relationships and make more repeat sales.

Mo Zahabi


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