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A Proactive Approach to Creating and Converting Leads

Large or small, independent or franchise, every dealership struggles to convert more leads to appointments (and ultimately to sales). Most dealers know they could be doing more to improve lead-to-appointment ratios, but think that’s easier said than done. In most cases, they simply fail to realize how many opportunities for improvement are right under their noses.

The common definition of a lead is someone who explicitly tells the dealership — via email, phone or an in-person conversation — they want to buy a car. In other words, the dealer waits for the customer to make the first move, then reacts. The problem is, opportunities are dwindling in today’s market, and dealers can’t afford to wait for customers to call them up. You have to get proactive if you want your profits.

Why the pressure to get proactive? A few reasons. One, today’s car owners are hanging onto their cars longer — so if you’re waiting for someone to be ready to buy again, factor in a few more years. And two, today’s car shoppers can get pretty far down the purchase path without you. They spend 60 percent — nearly nine hours — of their car buying experience online. 38 percent of buyers only visit one dealership after they’ve basically made a decision. More than half of all buyers only test drive one vehicle. By the time you catch on to what’s happening on your shoppers’ laptops, it could be too late to convert them to customers.

The dealers who succeed in an environment like this are the ones who don’t wait for leads to identify themselves. They proactively dig into their data for behavioral cues, and use it to improve the shopping experience.

Proactive use of data
Data can be complicated and unclear, so don’t try to figure it out on your own. There are many tools readily available to help you factor data into your decision-making. One of the most underappreciated tools, especially when it comes to identifying leads before they raise a hand, is a website behavior tracking tool.

Each tool is a little bit different, but they all provide insight into the exact actions your customers are taking online: which pages they viewed, what they clicked on, etc. This type of data allows you to spot “leads” before they ever reach out to you and deliver specific offers to those customers based on what they are browsing online.

VinLens, an integration between Connect CRM and Dealer.com websites, gives you the opportunity to set up alerts when known customers are currently online or viewing a specific offer. By considering certain customers a lead by being online, instead of waiting for them to send you an email, you open the door for additional sales that were previously being lost to more proactively selling competitors.

Proactive process improvements
Most dealers recognize that the car-buying experience begins online, but many haven’t adjusted their dealership processes accordingly. Far too often, customers walk into a dealership knowing the car they want, with their paperwork already filled out online, only to discover no one on the showroom floor has any idea who they are or what they are looking for. You only have 90 minutes with a customer before their satisfaction begins to nosedive. Dealerships can’t afford to spend that time regathering and reentering info the customer has already provided, let alone cleaning up errors produced by double entry.

Specific processes for creating this connection, and consequently seeing better lead-to-sale ratios, are critical. Does your BDC know how and when to pass off customer info to sales? Does your sales team know where to find customer website behavior history? Are customer forms easily accessible to the right team members? Most of the tools needed to facilitate these processes can be found in Connect CRM and VinLens, but and VinSolutions’ Performance Managers can ensure your team is trained to use these tools in an effective process.

Don’t wait for leads to show up; you’ll waste more dollars every day. Use Connect CRM to become proactive about using data and improving processes, and you’ll identify leads sooner — and make more sales.

Are you ready to take control of your dealership to PROactively win sales? Visit our Go Pro page for additional insights and resources.

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Mo Zahabi

Director, Product Consulting

Mo Zahabi is the Director of Product Consulting at VinSolutions and Dealertrack, where he educates dealers on best practices and ensures their offerings exceed industry expectations. Mo has applied his strong foundation in technology-based applications to the automotive industry for the last 18 years. Prior to joining VinSolutions in 2008, Mo was a respected Internet Director and eCommerce Director for two different automotive groups.

Connect with Mo Zahabi on Linkedin or shoot them a note.

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