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Are 25% of Your Showroom Customers Being Ignored?

What would happen if four customers walked into your dealership but only three salespeople were available to help? Would the fourth customer be ignored and told to come back another time? Or would a manager, or someone else, step in to help? One thing’s for sure: if nobody stepped in to help, you would lose a potential sale. And if this happened repeatedly, well, I wouldn’t want to be in that sales meeting.


Of course, you’re probably thinking that the likelihood of this happening in your dealership is slim. Yet it does happen in most dealerships every day. The only difference is the customers are currently Internet leads in your CRM and not in your showroom.


Not the same, you insist? Think again.


The results of Pied Piper’s recent 2012 Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI) study indicates that nearly 25%, or 1 in 4 customers, who submit Internet leads are not contacted by the dealership within 24 hours. Another 16% of inquiries received only a simple automated response, followed up by a personal e-mail from a salesperson.


The best-performing brands in the Pied Piper study were Lexus, Infiniti and Acura. According to Pied Piper CEO Fran O’Hagan, these brands performed the best because they have processes in place to ensure that Internet leads are handled properly.


I’m betting that, if I asked you if your dealership had a documented Internet sales process, you would say “Yes, absolutely.” Yet the study proves that these processes are not always being followed. Sales Managers can see when a salesperson drops a customer on the lot without a T.O., or skips from the Meet and Greet to the Write Up without stopping to build rapport or land the customer in the right vehicle. It’s a little harder—but not much—to see what steps are and are not being followed in your Internet process.


If you want to improve your sales performance, improve your Internet lead response with the following steps:

  1. Ensure your written processes are being followed. Hold salespeople and managers accountable for the e-mails, phone calls and follow up required to turn Internet leads into showroom visits. Regular meetings with the manager are the best way to accomplish this.
  2. T.O. every lead, just as you would a showroom customer. Don’t let salespeople close out Internet leads in the CRM. Require that a manager review each lead and then close it out for the salesperson. Have the manager send out an e-mail to every lead that is closed out asking about their experience and asking them why they didn’t buy. You might be very surprised at how many customers will say they were never contacted.
  3. Consider a technology like an automated virtual assistant that can engage and re-engage a large volume of Internet leads. The assistant passes hot leads to the salespeople so they can focus on phone calls and setting appointments with in-market customers.

How do you ensure that processes, both in the showroom and in the Internet department, are being followed?

Views: 368

Tags: Internet, auto, department, digital, leads, marketing, sales

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Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 21, 2012 at 8:26am

AJ, I agree with you BUT . . . we DO need more prospects.  2012 will be a banner year, and we cannot just focus on processing our piece of the pie better--we desperately need to ADVERTISE like crazy!  We compete with the dealerships in our area for a piece of the pie.  

For another analogy, rather than a sawmill with a pretty blade without cut trees outside to process, I'd take a sawmill with a rusty blade that I can shine as I go.

Mantra for 2012:  Don't let perfection get in the way of profits.

Comment by Aj Maida on April 19, 2012 at 5:33am

We can be the best marketers in the world. Have wonderful metrics but it still comes down to the people and the process. I've been saying for a while now that if we want to sell more service parts and vehicles we don't need more prospects, we just need to do a better job with the ones we have. Guess I'll go read that training blog now!!!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on April 18, 2012 at 8:06pm

Josh - Thank you for a deeply insightful article, and something that all of us should read and take to heart... The dirty little secret of handling Internet Leads is that there are rarely enough human resources applied to do it properly ON A CONSISTENT BASIS!  And, just when you get it right, customers start showing up in droves and your Internet Sales Specialists are too busy selling cars to respond to fresh leads coming in.

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