As easy as it is to lump the lead process into a single bucket, several steps are involved, with lead generation as the starting point and lead nurturing as the final stage. For the record, lead tracking and lead qualification slot between these steps, but we’ll save the full rundown for another article.
Lead generation vs. lead nurturing
Specifically, sales activity begins with lead generation to attract prospective car buyers to your dealership. This effort comes from walk-ins, phone calls, emails, and marketing activities like advertising and social media. Simply put, lead generation is about identifying people interested in what you’re selling.
Lead nurturing is doing something with these leads. In particular, this step involves converting that first contact into an ongoing relationship that will ideally result in a sale. But lead nurturing isn’t merely about flicking a switch and saying the person is “nurtured;” it involves a steady communication process that guides the prospect through the sales journey.
Many tools can be used for lead nurturing, such as personalized emails, texts, or phone calls. But the key result from the activity should be greater customer engagement. The more interested a prospect is in what your dealership offers, the greater the likelihood of a sale.
With lead nurturing more clearly defined, let’s review approaches to enhance this effort.
5 lead nurturing techniques
Assess current and past efforts
When was the last time you honestly assessed your existing lead nurturing efforts? A bottom-up look can reveal any gaps or uncover stale messaging or techniques. But sometimes, being so close to things may make it difficult to perform a comprehensive evaluation. Consider tasking a new employee with the effort or bringing in a trusted outsider for a fresh perspective. You’d be surprised what “fresh eyes” can bring to the table.
Establish defined lead profiles
Messaging is only as good as the available information on your leads. Begin by evaluating your current approach to segmentation (or start segmenting if this isn’t already part of the lead management process). Create categories like
- Ready to purchase
- Close to buying
- Not close
You’ll find terminology that works for your organization, but you get the idea. Be as specific as possible without making lead qualification too difficult. You may want to further slice and dice things by segmenting with previous customers, those with trade-ins, or prospects interested in a particular model.
Get in the habit of regularly analyzing profile conversion rates and adjusting as needed.
Help leads communicate
Successful customer interaction is a two-way street, so provide leads with multiple channels for them to reach out. This is also a good idea, as everyone has different communication preferences. Assess if your current methods are sufficient or if there’s a need for additional avenues like video chat or an expanded social media presence. Take a few minutes to test your communication methods so you can experience how customers interact with your dealership (phone trees and long waits for responses are big turn-offs).
Establishing goals is the only way to know if lead nurturing efforts are successful. These benchmarks don’t have to be elaborate but should be meaningful, such as the lead-to-sale conversion rate. Ongoing measurements will identify progress or the need for improvement.
Maximize your CRM
Take advantage of your customer relationship management (CRM) system to capitalize on your new-found emphasis on lead nurturing. Ensure that the fields are in sync with your segmentation approach and that automations match up with outreach efforts. Further, the system shouldn’t be bogged down by miscategorized leads or ones that should have been purged long ago. In short, your CRM should be a lean, mean revenue-supporting machine that aligns with lead management goals.
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