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Accountability: The Missing Link Between Process and ROI

I’d like to think that by now most dealerships have a written Internet sales process to handle Internet leads effectively. As the documented, researched and confirmed driver of “lead quality,” an established process is the key to obtaining a maximum ROI from Internet leads. Though many dealers are allocating a substantial portion of their marketing budget to attract Internet leads, many are still not achieving the recommended minimum of five times their ROI on those dollars spent, even with a “good process”. Why not?

Very often, accountability is the missing link between a written process and lack of desired ROI. How easy is it for an Internet salesperson to check off tasks as completed when they are not, or to say “I’ve tried calling that person three times and they haven’t called me back. What’s the point?” A good process that isn’t followed is the same as having no process at all—both salespeople and managers must be held accountable to following that process.

Here are a few tips to help weave accountability into your processes:

Does Your Team Own It? Accountability is about ownership – do your salespeople own the process? Ownership means more than just knowledge of the process, it’s belief in the process and its consistent execution. As a manager, if you want to hold people accountable you have to reinforce WHY they should be following the process and instill the belief that their personal results will improve. Call out individual successes that reinforce that following the process yields personal returns.

Review the Internet Sales Process. Does it mirror the showroom sales process? In the showroom process, there’s always room for interaction with management. Salespeople have check points throughout process; the test drive, desk log and the write-up. In many stores, managers walk the lot and showroom and inject themselves in the process to ensure everything stays on track. Is management involved throughout your Internet sales process, only at the end, or not at all? Create availability of management to the Internet team and reinforce the need for manager involvement.

Openness and Competition. Nothing breeds accountability like visibility. Show the whole team where all of them rank in your key performance areas and include the steps of the sale (i.e. contact rate, appointment rate, show rate), not just sales volume. Regularly review team results in a group, calling out the best at execution, and schedule individual meetings for coaching and personal accountability.

What are your tips for improving accountability? What tips do you have for managers and for salespeople?

Views: 518

Tags: AutoUSA, Internet, ROI, best, car, customer, leads, new, practices, used, More…website


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Comment by Glenn Pasch on April 4, 2013 at 2:50pm

Josh. Well put. We have trained dealers on this issue as well. Without accountability, nothing is measured, adjusted and refined for success. We have some tips in the book I co-authored, Selling Cars in the Digital Age. I wrote chapters on training and accountability. The biggest tip is that follow up needs to be a long term, not a short term process for getting the most from your team. One last point, when following up, keep emotion out of it. keep digging till you find the root cause of the poor results.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 4, 2013 at 1:43pm

Josh, well I don't always just drink the kool-aid as they say and passion is always good, in my book. A good argument on a public board is what it's all about (a 'lil controversy), at least for the sake of ADM. I don't try and be negative per se, but for sure take my own experience and compare it to what's being preached.

I've thought about writing a few and believe me, I'd expect an educated digital marketer to tear my thoughts apart. I just haven't found the time and the content to write something worth while, yet.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 4, 2013 at 1:32pm

Agreed. Nice process, BTW! :-)

Comment by Josh Vajda on April 4, 2013 at 1:31pm

Jim - I'll check around and see what process manuals we may have that don't include templates/response structures. Most of what's been developed to this point is indeed structured around templated responses, and I'm attempting to change that as well, especially with mobile customers...
Alyssa - you're right on track - you have to constantly evaluate yourself to improve.
Alexander - I've seen several comments from you on this site where you're intent on arguing the other side...or a side not represented, at least, and you tend to do it passionately. I'd love to see you write some articles of your own as well and offer your insights and perspective.

Comment by Alyssa Gomez on April 4, 2013 at 1:31pm

My point was more that it is one way I hold my team accountable. Whether I have 50 leads that are my own or that every dealership in a 100 mile radius had, I can tell if I sold ___ amount of them. ____ bought another make. Ok, that is not necessarily personal. ____ bought at another dealership and bought new vehicles. Ok, __ of them live 50 miles away, they were just shopping us. This one we did not follow up with properly, we only called them once. Out of these I try to notice patterns. Did we quote price right away and those bought elsewhere? Are we not competitive enough? Then in that case, do we really want the no gross deal anyway? I have noticed our weakness is with email only leads. So we have worked on that. 

I only meant with my statements, that everyone needs a way to look in the mirror. To track what you are doing and make changes. Hold yourself accountable.

Comment by Alexander Lau on April 4, 2013 at 1:07pm


No offense, but I've found GM-generated leads to be bogus most of the time. This only complicates matters. The problems you're speaking of justifies my statement, however, I've experienced it myself so I know it's an issue. It's not a matter of handling it properly, if the lead itself is phony or purchased for a lesser rate and resold to you. How many of those same leads were provided to other GM dealers? Do you honestly think GM cares whom gets the credit for the sale? Competitive analysis, you're speaking of benchmark data, which isn't always easy to get.

Comment by Alyssa Gomez on April 4, 2013 at 12:12pm

Josh you are exactly correct. With General Motors, we are able to see what leads came in from their sources.  We can also see if that person bought a GM, bought a used or bought another make. I pull these leads each month and look at the process, at the follow up, and really look into the mirror. Did we handle this properly? When we send out a certain email, did it not work? Did these emails go to spam? Were these peoople located really far from us? I do the same thing with the ones we sold. It helps me tell what works, what is not working and if a specific person is selling or not. Out of so many sold leads by other dealers, how many should have been ours? It really is important to watch yourself and see what else you can always do better.

Anyone who thinks they are perfect will never be.


Comment by Alexander Lau on April 4, 2013 at 7:11am

Hi Josh, "you'd like to think..." Agreed in terms of owning processes, that's a given. However, let's not assume or rather presume anything about the lack of know-how of your average dealer. I've worked at Super Dealers and they failed to have their sh*t together in terms of their Internet Sales process (it was dreadful = lost revenue) and they had the money to spend. I can only imagine the lack of process at smaller groups and what you're describing as "accountability."

Here's the problem I see, just in general. A lead comes in (if there's a BDC in place), they follow-up with a potential customer or current customer (services / parts) and from that SPECIFIC point the process falls apart. Either the wrong message is conveyed to the customer, undefined follow-up process in place, customer is never contacted (goes straight to a competitor in most cases), sales manager / salesman isn't schooled well enough to follow up, etc.

Then there's the ROI fiasco that overlaps. How do you measure what's being spent on digital and traditional marketing, taking into account money spent on lead generation??? How do you truly calculate it?

Comment by Jim Setele on April 3, 2013 at 5:25pm

Thank you for this. It's one of those things I have done in the past but have been too "busy" to spend more time with.

My experience has been, for my entire career, that the less hands on you are the less accountability occurs. This is not to say that you need to micro manage.

That said, would anyone have a written internet sales management guide that would NOT include template execution? I am trying to convince my team that creating dialogue is the initial goal with the ultimate goal being meaningful dialogue and securing an appointment. I would like to use your guide to help me tweak mine sans auto responders and auto emails.

I know I would never allow the floor to be managed like that.

I appreciate any time you expend to help me and thank you in advance.


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