Salespeople often get frustrated and discouraged by their inability to reach online customers that submit a lead. Many have processes in place that send auto-responders, templates, schedule tasks and impose time limits. Despite the time and effort spent creating quotes, emailing and attempting to reach customer, frequently there is no response. The customer does not answer the phone or return the call.
Let’s examine this from the customer’s perspective. They’re at some point in the buying process. Whether they’re just beginning their research or are ready to buy, they’ve either landed on your website, or any of the countless car shopping portals and microsites which have calls-to-action for price quotes and information. They submit their information with certain expectations. There is an expectation of reciprocity on the part of the customer. They’re giving you their information in return for you providing them a price quote or answering their questions. They don’t know that their information is being sent to 4 dealerships. Very quickly, auto-responders from these dealerships that contain generic messages explaining why they should buy a car from them bombard their e-mail inboxes. Sadly, most of the time these e-mails don’t contain the actual pricing or answers they were seeking.
Shortly thereafter, their phone starts ringing. These calls are continuous throughout the day, from dealerships calling all-hours of the day, regardless of appropriateness of the timing, such as right in the middle of dinner or at 8:00am. The consumer receives a string of voicemails from salespeople asking for return calls. In the beginning, they may plan on returning some calls. However, as the voicemails continue along with an overwhelming flow of manual e-mails sent by the salespeople and automatic e-mails sent by the dealer’s CRM, they start to get annoyed. Occasionally, they get the answer or price quote they were seeking. However, it’s buried amongst a barrage of e-mails so is easy to miss. Frequently, the questions are not answered and pricing never sent. What they do get, however, is a ton of irrelevant e-mails, invitations to come to the dealership and voicemails from salespeople. Most templates (manual, automatic and automated) are written as if they were sent by the ISM so to the customer, it looks like this salesperson is continuously e-mailing them yet never providing the information they requested or answering their questions. They get frustrated in the process.
Imagine if you had submitted a lead to a company you wanted information from and suddenly started getting bombarded by e-mails and phone calls, but received no actual information or answers. Wouldn’t you get annoyed?
In no way am I implying that you shouldn’t attempt to call a customer. Of course you should. You just need to be aware of the time of day and what normal people may be doing at that time. Ensure your timing is appropriate. Yes, you should respond quickly to leads. I’ve found that responding to a customer in less than 2 hours can increase your closing ratio. However, turn off your auto-responder and make your first e-mail one that is personal and includes either the quote or information they requested. By doing this, you’ll immediately stand out from the pack. Customers will appreciate it and be more receptive to you. When you leave a message, tell them that you just sent them an e-mail with the pricing or answers they requested and would like to verify they received it. That you would like to know if they need additional information instead of a generic “Call me” type message.
When a customer is on your lot, is the first step in your sales process to tell them how wonderful your dealership is? No. It’s typically to meet and greet them. Why would it be any different online?
In today’s age of transparency and easily accessible instant information, car dealerships are the one retail business that doesn’t conform. Change the way you interact with your potential customers and be different then your competition. You’ll see more responses, build rapport faster and see your closing ratios increase.
[Update 11/19]: This comment was made when someone shared my post. I thought it was relevant to hear an actual consumer chime in.