After listening to an interview on Blog Talk radio with Michael Spadafore, Global Director, Consumer & Commercial Marketing for R.L. Polk & Company outlining the new lead scoring system they are providing to help out the Detroit Trading Company rate the leads they are selling we had a lot of mixed feelings. Basically, there is a pool of leads for dealerships to choose from, Polk uses their magic algorithm to assign each lead a score, basically a likelihood of purchase, then that lead is sold based on its score, the higher the score the higher the price. We see an advantage, and a disadvantage (what a surprise!) with this new system. On one hand we find it hard to believe you can really truly rank a lead given the anonymity of the web. We will use two examples below to illustrate our point.
2 Leads Examined-Food For Thought
Lead A: Customer A loves Pontiac G6’s. Visits web pages 5 times a week, spends a lot of time on research, looking at pictures, and visiting other pages centered around the vehicle and submits several leads giving the impression that this person is very interested
Lead B: Customer B visits a page about the GMC Sierra once, configures what they want and submits a lead, never returns again, and visits no other pages about the Sierra.
Now conventional wisdom would suggest that customer A is far more interested, and customer B is only casually interested. We are not allowed the privilege of examining the algorithm used to determine value of a lead but it is safe to assume it would value customer A much higher the B.
Why We Don't Fully Endorse Lead Scoring...at Least Yet
Here is where we fall off the who lead rating system because after your dealership buys these leads you find out lead A is a 16 year old kid while Lead B is from a business owner with a 800 credit score and cash to burn. It is perfectly reasonable to assume Lead B just knew exactly what they wanted and submitted the lead. Outside of obvious flaws in the system we see a bigger problem with the lead scoring system and the culture it will begin to create inside dealerships. Once we start pre qualifying leads, in our opinion it is a slippery slope, and not far off from having salespeople pre-qualifying floor ups, and dealerships doing the same in their service isles and marketing. We are still old school perhaps and believe every customer should be treated the same way. We aren’t against saving dealers money, we just fear where this may lead for customers.
We should of course admit about the only pre qualifying factor we would care about as a dealer is their credit score. Knowing a leads credit score before hand, to us, would be the only stat strong enough for us to pay a premium for leads. Send us all the A and B tier leads you want! (That’s not likely to happen….well at least for a while)
There are Better Ways Of Getting Better Dealership Leads
We do like the idea of the Detroit Trading Company and dealers being able to hand pick leads they want. We really feel this will be a big part of the future for lead generation companies, and pooling their resources, in this case their leads are a huge step towards providing a higher quality product to dealers. We are eager to start getting feedback from some of our dealers who use this and other lead rating systems, if it works we will certainly offer kudos to Polk and others who have offered this rating system, were just not too sold on it.
It could be our bias towards generating your own leads but that is only a slight possibility. The fact of the matter is the best converting leads are going to be ones you generate from your own dealership website, and instead of going out there trying to fix the issue by buying leads you might want to consider how you can spend that money generating your own high quality leads you don’t have to pay for. Buying third party leads has its place in a dealership marketing budget but we see it only as a supplementary effort, you shouldn’t rely on them. Get your own website pumping in leads, and capture even more customers by purchasing third party leads, if your website isn’t generating enough leads the answer isn’t buying them, it’s fixing your website.
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