Best PracticesMar 21st, 2018

Top 8 Ways for Dealerships to Convert More Leads Into Sales


In this age of intense competition, dealers need to get back to the basics of responding better to leads to increase sales — and as of now, there’s a lot of room for improvement. Digital Air Strike recently conducted a Mystery Shop Study of more than 1,500 dealerships to gauge their response habits on leads from their website and social networks, and the results were less than stellar.

From the data, Digital Air Strike identified the top eight best practices that top dealerships are leveraging to convert leads into sales.

1. Respond to every lead at all hours on all sites

Stop losing leads simply due to not knowing they are there. If shoppers take the time to reach out on Facebook or after hours, they deserve a response.

Having tools and technology that respond automatically to your leads ensures that all shoppers are getting a response even when your dealership is closed. After-hours inquiries can account for up to 40% of leads. It’s also critical to note that responding to all leads includes those who reach out on Facebook Messenger or other social media sites.

According to the Mystery Shop Study, a staggering 64% of dealerships failed to respond to leads that reached out via Facebook Messenger. This is even more important with the increasing popularity of Facebook Marketplace — which is now the world’s largest used car shopping site.

2. Respond quickly and nurture thoroughly

Lead responses should take minutes, not hours or days. The Mystery Shop Study found that only 16% of dealers responded with a price quote within 15 minutes, despite data that shows how internet shoppers who receive a response within 10 minutes are three times more likely to physically visit the dealership.

It’s important to remember that a lead’s highest point of interest is immediately after reaching out, so stay on top of leads before they start looking somewhere else.

Following the leads is vital to re-engage shoppers to find out if they’re still interested and their timeline for purchase. Dealerships that set goals for lead-response time and monitor this with tools and technology, as well as incentivize their team to beat goals, simply sell more cars.

3. Personalize responses — to a point

Make sure customers know who they’re shopping with by providing details about the dealership and the salesperson, including:

  • The dealership’s name, tagline, and logo
  • A salesperson’s name, photo, and direct phone number
  • Positive reviews and review site star ratings
  • A strong call to action that informs the customer what to do next

One word of caution: Monitor the responses so your team doesn’t over-personalize; for example, telling the consumer to wait two days to come into your store only because the salesperson has those days off and wants the sale.

This comes across as aggressive to a consumer, especially if that message is delivered in the first response before any rapport has been established, and it makes your dealership look like your team cares more about their schedule than what will work best for the consumer.

4. Respond professionally

Responses should be free of typos, inconsistencies, and irrelevant information that can distract the customer. Additionally, being courteous in every response helps to promote a sense of trust in a dealership, which can turn into sales and referrals.

Having set templates and approved language, especially on social media networks, is crucial because website responses and even email can live online like a billboard, and either help or hurt your dealership for years to come.

5. Answer questions in the first response

Although this seems obvious, customer questions can often go unnoticed. Despite customer inquiries, including questions about a specific type of vehicle, Digital Air Strike found that 53% of dealerships failed to respond to the questions and didn’t list any specific vehicle information at all.

6. Be proactive

Don’t just provide customers with a quote for the vehicle they requested. We know consumers buy the car they can afford, so show them new and used options, lease options, and multiple trim levels.

Even if a prospect sends in a lead asking about a new car, 42% of those leads end up purchasing a used car instead. Despite this, only 25% of dealers provide used vehicle options, and just 15% provide additional new vehicle options. Dealerships that do provide multiple options are more likely to encourage consumers to work with them over their competition.

There are new tools that can do this for you automatically while integrating with your existing CRM, and still allow your team to customize the response.

7. Price based on location

Digital Air Strike found that customers are willing to travel more than 20 miles to visit a dealership with good reviews. By prioritizing a positive online reputation, pricing vehicles based on the location of the prospect, and considering nearby competitors, dealers can win customers willing to drive further for a better price and superior consumer experience from a more highly rated dealership.

8. Include rebates, discounts, and sales events

Develop the habit of updating lead-response emails with current promotions. Customers can easily overlook the promotions on a dealer’s site or even a manufacturer site, so including them in responses helps increase the awareness and overall competitiveness of a dealership.

If your dealership is the only one to include these promotions, some consumers may assume that you are the only one that offers them. Just the fact that you're providing the most helpful information will encourage more prospects to come your way.

Creating a lead-response plan that you can continually monitor is challenging when you're in the daily chaos of a typical day at a dealership, so employing tools and technology — including new lead-response tools and consumer engagement technology — truly is one of the best investments you can make.

Although nothing beats face-to-face communication, most consumers today only visit one dealership after spending hours and days researching online.

If your dealership has faster and better responses to all of your leads, you can prevent hot leads going to your competitors while simultaneously allowing your sales team to focus more on more phone and in-person conversations and sales lower down the funnel.

Alexi Venneri is co-founder and CEO of Digital Air Strike, the award-winning social media and digital engagement company. Previously, she was president of Auto Media/Blue Flame 6 and a vice president at Dealertrack, as well as the thirteenth employee at Who’s Calling, taking it from $200,000 to $70 million in just four years as chief marketing officer. An accomplished public speaker and best-selling author, she was named a Top 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry for 2015 by Automotive News. 

Authored by

Alexi Venneri

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