Sales Speakout

When is it Good to Prequalify Your Customers?

By August 4, 2020August 5th, 2020No Comments
prequalify customers

In the past, dealerships wanted to get as many leads as possible.  Throw it all at the wall and see what stuck.  Current thinking is that this method is a waste of time and money.  In times past, dealership management would heavily discourage the sales team from pre-qualifying customers.  Times have changed!

In order to get the most out of the sales team (BDC and Showroom), we want to manage the opportunities that we serve up.  We can focus on high probability lead sources, which will:

  • Make the BDC more efficient, by keeping them focused on leads that have a much higher closing percentage.  This will get you more showroom visits with less personnel.  Working lead streams with single digit closing percentages is very tiresome for the BDC staff.  They become discouraged and tend to be less effective on the leads that should be closing above 20%.  Keep your BDC fresh and energized!
  • Working with better lead streams provides not only a better appointment percentage, but also a better show rate.  The showroom team should be staging vehicles in advance of the appointments.  If the show rate is poor (50% or less), the showroom team will start shortcutting the staging process.  This leads to a lower closing percentage for those customers that do show.

This is the rationale for pre-qualifying the lead streams: to eliminate the low percentage opportunities.  At the end of the day, there are VERY few dealers that have adequate staffing to handle all of the available opportunities.  It becomes a choice of which leads provide the best return, for the least money invested.

Once we decide on the best probability lead sources, we now have to prequalify the incoming opportunities.  Not all lead sources are created equal and some require a special response to connect with the shopper.  This includes:

  • Digital Retailing leads:  Digital Retailing gets the user farther down the path to a purchase/lease.  It is vital that the BDC give the shopper credit for this.  These leads are very low funnel.  They should be met with a priority response and a special in store (or at home) process.  If the shopper is expected to start over from the beginning, or the BDC response ignores the fact that work has been done, the user will typically disconnect and move on.  In this case, what should be a great opportunity becomes a disconnect.
  • Credit App Leads:  Same rules here.  The lead should be given priority.  Most often, a manager or senior salesperson responds.  This takes someone who can have equity conversations and is qualified to be gentle around any credit discussions.
  • Lead Sources Where the Customer has Built a Vehicle and has Seen Pricing:  “Great news!  We have your car and you have already seen pricing.  All that’s left is to set time aside for you to come take delivery!”
  • Website Leads Not in the above Categories: Overall, website leads close at higher rates than any other source.  Dealers should maximize their website’s ability to gather leads.  These include:
    • Appraisal tools: This is important to get right.  Appraisal value is the #1 reason why showroom visitors don’t buy a car.  It is important to work these opportunities carefully.  The appointment should be to schedule time to meet the appraising manager.  The more the customer feels like their needs are getting addressed, the more often they will show, and the more often they will buy.
    • Chat:  This lead is a good one, but typically isn’t as far down the road toward a purchase as some of the other tools.  The good news is that there is typically a question to answer.  This allows for a personalized approach that will begin to build rapport.
    • Phone Calls:  These leads have the best shot of turning into a sale.  This is especially true with used car calls.  They typically want to know if the vehicle is still available and might have an option question or two.  It is VERY easy to convert these calls to an appointment that shows!
    • Other Website Call To-Actions:  The response should fit the CTA.  Just because these aren’t in the major categories above, doesn’t mean that these will close in single digits. 

The bottom line on all of these lead streams is that the way dealerships respond is critical to the success.  The lead is the opening volley from the shopper.  You and likely a few other dealers are auditioning to see who gets the business.  The quicker you can connect with the customer, the better your chances.  The lead response has to make sense to the customer.  One response for all leads will no longer get you the customer connection that you need.

If you have third party leads coming into the BDC, you may want to reconsider.  If they are closing under 10%, chances are that you can replace them with website leads that close better and cost less.  If you don’t feel that you have options for that with your website company, find a new one!  Ask your OEM who the highest converting website company in their certified program is.  That’s a great place to start.

Please feel free to reach out for a more detailed discussion of lead pre-qualifying and best practices at your store.  We are happy to help answer your questions, whether you are a DEP customer, or not!

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