One of the most often repeated laments that I hear on a daily basis, is “I am working those leads as hard as I can.” As hard as I can? Perhaps, and I may have suggested this to you, we should not be working so hard and, instead, concentrate on working these leads completely.
Okay, you are going to accuse me of playing with semantics! But I am not. Working leads hard is simply spending the time to do the same thing to every lead every day. The standard goal is to get the prospect into the dealership to purchase a new or used vehicle. Oh, I am very aware that working leads, especially third-party leads can be tedious and discouraging. I have heard all the customer responses. “I didn’t make an application.” “I already purchased.” “I’ll get back to you to set up an appointment.” And those are simply the tip of the proverbial iceberg. But think for a minute if we treated all those responses as positive signals and, at the same time, suggested future action. Every lead that crosses your desk has value. Perhaps not today or even this month, but value nonetheless.
Let’s look at the person who answers our call and, perhaps in an irate tone, demands to know how we got the number and when told, claims adamantly that he/she never filled out our application online or anywhere else. Of course, we are going to apologize and then ask if there is someone else in his household who would have access to the information and might be in the market for a new vehicle. Perhaps you might get a name and then again you might not. However, in any case, I am not going to give up! I am going to ask the person on the line, “Would it be okay with you, for your trouble, if I put you on our mailing/email list of preferred customers so you get occasional free or discounted offers from ABC Motors?” “Can I have your name and address so I make sure I have it correct?” This person will get something from me quarterly and will remember how professionally I handled the situation when I initially called. Do you think there may be a better chance that he/she will remember my dealership when he/she or someone in the family, at work, or in the neighborhood mentions they need a vehicle than if I just mumbled an apology and hung up the phone? If all else fails, that person is going to get mail/email from me, explaining that these errors occur infrequently and apologizing for an inconvenience we might have created. Every lead has some value.
The prospect who responds with “I already purchased a new vehicle a month ago” more often than not will earn a “Thanks for your time” response. Not from me! My first response is going to be “What did you buy?” Then I am going to say something like, “Nice car/truck, we have had a few of those on our used car lot that folks have traded in for one reason or another and they sold quickly” “For your trouble, can I put you on our preferred customer list so you get occasional mail/email about free or discounted offers from ABC Motors?” I might also suggest to them that they could offer these special deals to family members or friends. Which dealer, other than their own will they think about if someone talks about a new or used vehicle? A much better response than “Okay, thanks.” Every lead has some value!
Do you see a pattern developing here? Pretty much an update on the “never take no for an answer” attitude.
If you can’t sell them a car today, give them a reason to remember you later.
Now, what about the prospect who, when called, gives all the right positive signals. Then he/she can’t be pinned down to a scheduled appointment or, worse yet, makes an appointment and doesn’t keep it? This can be the most frustrating and disappointing scenario of all. Why does this seem to happen more often than one would imagine?
The main reason, I think, is that we assume that the customer is reading the same script that we are and we get a bit careless. Do we ask for reaffirmation of the desire to purchase and the appointment? Do we follow up both via mail/email and telephone to confirm the appointment? Probably not! Then there is the matter of offering incentives for prospects to make and keep their appointments. Many successful dealers offer discounted or free service inspections, oil changes or detailing for prospects who keep their appointments. Here at VOISYS, we provide our dealers with Dining cards, at deeply discounted prices, that they can offer to prospective customers as an incentive to make and keep appointments. Even the no-shows have value. Call them back to reschedule or again, ask to put them on your preferred customer list for mail/email offers. Every lead has some value!
You can’t convert every lead, but with the right plan, you can turn more of them into active prospects and, ultimately, into more sales, with less frustration.
Just my two cents worth.
About the author
Dick Hassberger, of Lake Orion, Michigan is a veteran of over 50 years in the Automotive Financing and Leasing industry, starting his career with the former Wayne Oakland Bank in September 1960. Dick is National Sales Director for VOISYS. He has held executive positions with Major Banks, Lending Institutions and Leasing companies and has accumulated a vast store of knowledge in the automotive financing industry, which he regularly shares with his client dealerships as well as readers of this blog. Dick was a regular author for World of Special Finance Magazine.