Converting internet leads into car sales is an evolving and extremely challenging process. What worked five, three, or even a year ago isn’t necessarily as effective as it is today. What makes it even more important is that, according to the Autotrader 2018 Car Buyer Journey study, customers will visit the dealership an average of just 1.4 times before making a purchasing decision. You must strike while the iron (or lead) is hot.

There is no shortage of internet lead generation companies on the market to compliment your own inquiries. Whether you’re addressing third-party leads or leads from your own dealer site, you can achieve an effective strategy with a combination of tools and best practices that successful dealerships are using. 

Cloud-Based CRM Management

Today’s CRM management systems are comprehensive, but a cloud-based system offers a level of dynamism to the internet lead response process. One hurdle that internet managers face in today’s market is a knowledgeable response while they aren’t at their desk in the bricks-and-mortar store. With cloud-based CRM software, they can respond immediately with more than just, “I can get back to you when I’m back in the office tomorrow.”

AI for After-Hours Follow Up

Also available for today’s dealers that embrace technology are AI (artificial intelligence) auto-responders. Products like RoboResponse have been developed to replace obviously canned email auto-responses.

What might seem like a tool that serves to irritate leads with an auto-response actually does the opposite. AI tech is a key component in keeping leads hot until a team member can jump into the conversation themselves. The system continuously learns from previous emails and through customer interactions to tailor responses and bring customers along through the sales funnel. 

Customer-Sensitive Lead Responseinternet leads

An internet lead arrives via email, and a salesperson snatches the phone off the cradle to call them immediately. However, the customer on the other end sent the request from their smartphone and could be multi-tasking, unable to answer a call. It’s all about being sensitive to the customer’s needs in your responses.

Whenever possible, respond to a lead with the customer’s preferred method of communication. That’s a detail that should always be requested by your lead gen. Not only does it give the shopper the feeling of control, but any other method serves to irritate them. If there’s no response method indicated, your first attempt at reaching out should be the same method they used for the lead – likely text or email. 

Engaging Video Responses

A ‘Think with Google’ report from July 2018 states that over 75% of auto shoppers say that online video has influenced their shopping habits or purchases.” With video evolving into a major source for information and engagement in the car buying process, wouldn’t it be natural to reply to internet leads with that type of value?

Eastern Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Winnipeg, MB does just that. When an internet lead arrives on a vehicle, a BDC manager expediently takes a video from inside that exact vehicle. The lead response might be less than a minute, but it gives customers more value than an email or text message response ever could. 

Deadly-Fast Lead Response Times

A timely response to internet leads isn’t just a lofty goal. It’s a linchpin for your success selling to inbound leads. The Lead Response Management Study makes it clear how vital fast responses are. They show that “the odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drops 21 times.” Even replying in 10 minutes versus 5 minutes decreases your chances of qualifying the lead four-fold.

The figures are unreal for responses that are hours later. Your chances of converting those leads into sales are virtually nil. That’s precisely why internet managers should be dedicated to inbound leads – so response times can be slashed to the smallest time frame possible. 

Customize Inquiry Replies

Whether you’ve inquired about a mortgage, a mattress, or a minivan, how a sales representative responds plays an overwhelming factor on your decision to do business with them.

Digital Airstrike has given good tips for replying to leads with personalized emails. First, the basics: 

  • Respond to leads by using their name in the communication. 
  • Include the dealership’s name, logo, and tagline. 
  • Remember to give them the salesperson’s contact info including name, direct number, and a photo.
  • Provide a call to action, or choices for how to respond. 

Also noted as good etiquette for responding to email leads is a professionally worded message devoid of spelling errors or overly casual language.

Remember, this is your dealership’s first impression. Make it memorable and command a response from the internet lead!

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