Your #1 source for auto industry news and content


Your Internet Process is Costing You Sales! But, it’s not your fault…

Over the past decade, the average dealer has lavishly spent on conferences and training intended to give their team the edge with internet sales. With this much focus on a specific area of the dealership, you’d naturally expect to see improvement.

Not so. Dealers today still only close about 7 percent of their internet leads each month; and, for the most part, it’s not their fault. The blame for this stagnant performance lies in their antiquated internet sales process. A process still taught by some trainers and pushed by most of the OEMs.

To help improve your results, I’ve detailed the five most common areas where the average internet process hurts sales:

The Auto-Response

The big debate about whether to send an auto-response is just silly; there is no debate. Dealers should always send an auto-response when a new lead arrives in the CRM. The auto-response is not considered spam to the prospect (who may have no idea which dealers received their information). It’s welcomed confirmation their order was received – just as it is when Amazon sends its confirmation.

Properly worded, the auto-response can set the stage for what comes next. Alerting the customer that your team will be calling to schedule a no-hassle priority test drive, for example, increases the likelihood that the prospect will answer when you call.

The Clock-Stopper

The massive focus on response time has gone from helpful to misguided in the last decade. Today, the attention on that first email response is so intense (especially from many OEMs) that most every internet salesperson has learned to send a worthless email to new prospects immediately. An email intended to do one thing: stop the clock to improve the dealership’s average response time.

This “clock-stopper” email hurts the average dealer’s closing percentages, because once it’s been sent, most internet teams fail to call the prospect immediately. Instead, they wait to allow the prospect time to read and respond to an email that generates almost no responses.

Manual Emails

Except for the first personal response, every email to a non-responsive prospect should be automated. The argument that you want your emails to “look personal” is foolish for a couple of reasons: 1) The time it takes to craft a personal email could be used to call the prospect, resulting in a higher connection rate and greater sales volume; and 2) If you want your emails to look personal, then write a personal email, make it template and have it fire automatically moving forward.

Too Many Scheduled Calls

Based on our mystery shops, the average internet salesperson makes only two phone attempts for each new prospect. This, while the average internet process requires roughly 15 calls over the first 30-60 days.

This poor phone execution is due to many factors.  Requiring calls to non-responsive internet prospects a month or more after the lead has been received ensures that your team begins to fake their phone calls. They, rightly so, view Day 30 or Day 60 calls as unnecessary and unproductive.

Reducing both the number of required calls in the internet process and front-loading these to first 7-10 days ensures your team is making calls that have a high chance of producing a connection that can lead to a sale.

Until They Buy or Die

Today’s internet sales prospect has more information than ever; so, they’re much lower in the sales funnel than they were just a few years ago.

However, your process was built to follow up with them “until they buy or die.”

Ever wonder why your emails end up in spam with so many new prospects? It’s because your CRM keeps sending process emails, e-newsletters, and your latest offers to those who’ve already routed you to their junk folder some 30 or 60 days after they first submitted their request for information.

A non-responsive internet prospect is not the same as a customer. They don’t want your newsletter; they don’t care who was awarded Employee of the Month; they don’t want to learn more Winter Car Care Tips for a vehicle they never bought.

This is why you’re considered a spammer. Instead of forever sending worthless emails that prompt prospects to send you to their junk folders, try ending your process after a reasonable amount of contact attempts. Doing so will keep you out of spam for new prospects, giving you a better shot with your hottest opportunities.

The antiquated processes that are costing you sales were built with the best intentions; and, at one time, drove higher sales for those who followed them. Today, it’s important to remember that the average internet prospect is ready to buy. Be certain your processes reflect this.

Good selling!

Steve Stauning
Steve Stauning
Founder, Steve is the author of Assumptive Selling: The Complete Guide to Selling More Vehicles for More Money to Today’s Connected Customers; as well as a respected automotive industry veteran and founder of pladoogle, LLC – a leading training & consulting firm – and the free sales video training website Prior to his involvement with pladoogle, Steve served in various automotive leadership roles, including as the Asbury Automotive Group’s (NYSE: ABG) director of ecommerce, the director of the Web Solutions division of Reynolds & Reynolds, and as the general manager of Dealer Web Services for Dominion’s Dealer Specialties.

Related Articles


Latest Articles

From our Publishing Partners