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I need some help. I'm the Business Development Director of Tysinger Motor Company in Hampton, Virginia. We are comprised of Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Hyundai and Pre-Owned. Our dealership has gone through many changes since my 2 year tenure here. When I first started I had a traditional BDC with 7 Customer Service Reps. who handled all Internet Leads when they first came in. These Reps. would process the lead, send out e-mail templates, make phone calls, follow-ups and set appointments. When the client came in for their scheduled appointment they were turned over to the sales consultant who then worked the deal. That process worked pretty good, we closed these Internet leads at a decent rate (surely we weren't setting things on fire) but above average in my opinion. Recently we have signed with Traver Technologies and I no longer have Customer Service Reps. We tried "shotgunning" all internet leads directly to the sales force and expected our sales consultants to work the Internet leads from "soup to nuts". This obviously did not work quite well, leads were getting dropped, response rates were well above 1 hour, follow-up became almost nonexistant and overall closing rates have declined drastically. We now have organized our Internet process and formed an Internet Sales Team with a Manager and two sales consultants who solely handle these leads. I'm interested in hearing some thoughts and feedback from anyone in this community about how I can get some solid processes in place. Specifically I'm interested in any experiences you all have in forming Internet teams and your processes. I love presentations and diagrams to teach and learn from. I have browsed through some of the material on here and used some of the information. If anyone has anything to share, i.e. mapping out an internet process, templates, procedures, etc. it would be greatly appreciated. We are currently handling approximately 350 to 400 Internet leads a month. The majority of these coming from our website (SEO and SEM), manufacture websites, autotrader, cars.com and USAA. I stopped buying third-party leads a few months ago but that's a whole other topic to discuss at a later time.

Please provide me some insight.

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This is a great question Richard, and frankly, it takes some guts to ask this type of question (and answer it!) in this community. The great thing about ADM is that there is a plethora of information and opinion here…most all of them good!

Before I move into what I think effective processes look like, I want to preempt what I say with a caveat. The processes are procedures I, and others, will share are predicated on you and your team maximizing the use of your tools at hand.

A good process, many times, evolves through trial and error. A good process is customer-centric. It will meet the perceived needs of your customers, which, in turn, will be validated by their presence in your show room and their money in your pocket. All else is speculation and practice!

So, before we as a community delve into process, I would ask myself some questions. I, for one, do not know where your store is located nor whom your competition might be. But, the first thing I analyze is…if I am missing deals…why?

When I arrived at my current location, I noticed that there were two strong Internet players in town. We all sell the same brand. And two (of the four) dealerships pretty much owned Internet sales in our market. I noticed that my current dealership offered the same pricing. I noticed that we had just about as good of inventory. And for about 27 minutes I just about scratched my head bald wondering what was up with this whole problem.

Then I took at look at our PMA map.

I noticed that though we had similar inventory levels and product mix, and though we had similar pricing…2/3’rds or our PMA was a big ole’ mountain! In other words, people did not come here because we did not give them a real reason to drive up here. Light bulb went on and two months later our Internet sales were up 412%!

So, in a nutshell, here is the Tiny Malone all-in-wonderful “get’em in” program (In case you are wondering, all of my processes are results driven. So I formulate rules [KPI’s] to develop and modify my processes). MY current rules are as follows:

1. I gotta get their attention!
a. If the end result does not bring them to my doorstep, so to speak, it is hyperbole and prolly not worth messing with.
b. If I have to pull people out of other PMA’s, I better have a pretty good idea of what WILL make them drive 25 miles, past three other [insert manufacturer name] dealerships to get to me. This typically becomes my main ad slogan or online campaign.
c. I will maximize the use of my online tools to get this message in front of them at all times. This message is consistent and I used plain talk to convey it.

2. I gotta demoralize my competition!
a. Not popular, I know, but this is war…is it not? May times, when a customer comes in, I hear them relating the following: “We went to XYZ motors when they said they could do “X”, we pulled out our e-mail from Tiny and told them what Tiny told us over the phone. When we told them that, the guy at XYZ Motors just groaned!” Nothing makes me happier!
b. There is a reason that makes me happy, though. It’s not about ego or making someone else have a bad day! It’s about verification that EVERYONE is on notice that the deal is better at my house! Do I take a few diggers? SURE! But, the truth of the matter is that this is still a numbers game. Statistically, the more people I see, the more opportunities I have to make high gross deals, pick up fixed opps business, and develop a long term pipeline of nearly free return and referral business for my store (if you read between the lines there, yes I AM saying that my operation gets cheaper to run and grow each day).

After that, my pre-sale process is pretty easy and basic! I DO use auto-responders. Many people do not like them. I do for two reasons. First, it lets them know I got their Internet Purchase Request even if I have 5 ISS’s sitting across from me needing a pencil. So there is some reassurance on their end that we are aware of their request and working for them at that very moment. Second, it sets up my online process of what I call “Stop the Shop”.

Now, many people in this forum may disagree with me, but I think the longer you leave a customer out there swimming in the open market, the more likely you will NOT being waving bye-bye to them at the end of the day with all of their money in your pocket. So, I strongly believe in stopping their shopping process ASAP…and they don’t even know it.

The very first thing I do when I see a new lead is pick-up the phone. One of the KPI’s I employ before I hire someone is I test their listening and communication skills. I test their phone ability. So, since that is a much-needed strength to be successful in this business, that is the first thing I do! And I have but one goal with this phone call. Get’em in! I sell nothing but the appointment if at all possible. I employ the ERASE method when I need to, in order to stay on track to a toe-to-toe visit. Why? My teams closing ratio is 77% on first visit sales! So, I know that if they get here…they are prolly gonna leave in our vehicle.

Second, I am going to employ a second e-mail at this juncture. It is either an appointment confirmation, with a personal recollection of some segment of our conversation, or it is a “Stop the Shop” poison pill that will blow everyone else around me out of the water. Did I mention that this is war?

And now, a word from our sponsors: The Stop the Shop Poison Pill e-mail is NOT about deception. I will make an astounding offer that is better than anyone else in town. But, I WILL sell them a car (in the model line that they are looking for) at THAT price if all else fails.

At that point, I will attempt to make an intelligent decision about when I may try to call them back. If it is morning and I reached what is obviously their home answering machine, does it stand to reason that they are at work? Nod your head yes. 6:30 is coming! And so, I will create a reminder in my ILM tool that will tell me to make that call at 6:30 with some notes if I have made any sort of offer to them (that whole bothersome consistency thing again!).

I have three other e-mail templates that I send over the next 72 hours (or until I get an appointment) that are designed to keep them married to me and hate everyone else.

Now, one thing we all see is the lifecycle and lifespan of a lead. In my market, I notice that new car leads are active for about 72-96 hours…. and then they sorta drop off. But, glory to Jesus, they reemerge about 82 days later many times. So I have a non-annoying communication process set up for my people that is fun, polite and informative during that drop off period. But, at about 77 days from inception, the communication information and pattern changes. That is because I know I have about 10-12 shining days of opportunity with those folks before they (typically) fall into an abyss, which can last 6 months or more.

The key to any process is realizing a few things. One, it MUST be results driven. Two, you need to stop the shopping process (outside of your sphere of influence) and marry them up to you. Even if they are nowhere near being in a position to do business sooner, your process should foster trust and relationship with you. And three (because of what we just read), your process should be built around the fact that you OWN that lead. You paid for it Richard (in more ways than one), so USE it all the days of your life. Amen!
Tiny,

I gotta meet you in person... Your description of the approach, strategy, practices and thinking that go into your team's response to an Internet lead is absolutely f*#%$@* GREAT! Now I can truly see why your results are so strong... In many ways, without talking to each other, you, me and so many others are finding that the sames ways to get outstanding results. And, when several car guys all find similar ways to sell more cars, independantly from each other... THAT is when you have to admit it into the directory of "Automotive Best Practices".

You are dead on, my ADM colleague... 100% bull eye... At the end of the day, this is about digging it out and working your leads smarter, better and more aggressiveley than the compeittion.

I know you are probably too business delivering cars to attend any of these upcoming conferences, but if you are going to be at any of them, please call or email to let me know so I can shake your hand and buy you a drink.
I have been watching, talking and learning from Tiny for almost a year, everytime I turn around he is at it again. Great car guy but one of the best Internet directors ever.
Tiny,
Two things:
1-I am glad we are"friends" and I get to share in your expertise.
and
2-I am glad I am not in your market!!!

Keep going strong!
Richard,

My math after doing the figures is that each of the three department people are handling about 133 leads each. That is on the high side for effective outreach and follow-up considering the need to meet, demo, sell and deliver the cars.

A couple of questions:
Are you serving price in your initial response?
How many leads are new vs used?
My original intentions are YES give the client a price, after all the majority of times the way an internet lead is generated is from the client clicking something online to the extent of "click here for pricing". Now if a lead is generated from an advertising site like cars.com or autotrader and a question is submitted then I wouldn't require my team to send the price but more importantly capitalize on the clients question as a way to work towards an appointment. When a price quote is given I strongly believe in providing a price of a base model, the price of a fully loaded model, and two comparable pre-owned cars I have in inventory. I like the idea of giving choices. After all if my client choses one of the 4 I have provided, then I just sold a car.

133 leads per ISS is a lot to handle and I agree with you Scott. My Internet Leads are broken down by approximately 100 of the 400 being Pre-Owned leads.
Thanks for the kind words team!

Richard, here are some thoughts about pricing. First, as you surmise, you prolly do need to play that by ear. I think the most important thing to do before I decide to provide a price is READ the lead entirely.

Why?

Well...if the customer just cares about alloy wheels and a red coat of paint..."Yes Mrs. Smith I happen to have one left...boy this seems to be all the rage right now...how soon can you get here (or how soon can we get together)?"

I think the smartest thing to do is to study what is happening with this client. Before I even call I, for some reason, try to get a feel for what’s going on here. The key reason I do this is.... I am looking for outs or maneuver room. When the client shows up and I have already quoted price and penny quoted payment and the cost of F&I product...where do I go from there?

We ALL know that there are clients like that.... you will not have a dream in the world of seeing them until they have everything under the son plus a note from their mother and a DNA sample.

What I want to deal with is the other 99% of the populace.

What I find most effective is the IDEA of a price or discount. When I send out my offer e-mail (that only goes out if I could not get them on the phone first), I offer "X" discount with a deadline and I make SURE they know they have to see me first, face to face to get this deal without all of the hassles they faced at other dealerships. This part of the Tiny Malone "Get'em in and Skate Reduction" program.

BTW, I think Scott is correct in his statement about leads per ISS. I find that once we get past about 90 or so (unless they are extremely organized!), the quality of contact and dig-back (going into old leads) is sub-par.
The vast majority of today's car buyers are so-called "mooches". The "lay-downs" are an endangered species quickly becoming extinct.
Richard,

I am uploading a few files that you may find useful and seem like what you were asking for...

Best fo luck, and just keep on pushing and selling cars, you are in the right place!

Ralph
Attachments:
Richard,

I spotted a few more that are Mercedes-Benz specific that you might be able to modify and use...

Ralph
Attachments:
Ralph thanks a lot for uploading these files. They are very helpful. I'm sure I will run into you one of these days. Thanks again for the information and all the help and consulting I'm getting from you and BZ and the rest of the folks.
Ralph I like the lead process map. Could you post the email templates that you use with it?

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