By Todd Dearborn, VP of Sales
I recently had the opportunity to lead a dealer training seminar at the Digital Dealer 13 conference in Las Vegas. I focused my session on using real CarsDirect customer survey data to figure out the reasons why customers didn’t buy from the store their lead was originally referred to in those cases when customers ended up not buying, or buying from another store. You can see a video of my session here.
Refining the sales process to minimize lost sales was a major theme at Digital Dealer this year. With the show fresh in my mind, I wanted to share some areas of focus regarding the sales process (I’ve listed the key points in order of frequency):
1. Customers aren’t being contacted.
• 32% of New Car leads and a whopping 46% of Used referrals aren’t being contacted, per our data.
• The customer’s perception of 1:1 contact differs from the Internet Sales Rep’s perception.
Fix it through meaningful, customized, personalized contact
2. “I’m still looking!”
• In these cases, the sales rep and ISM give up, whether due to cherry picking, working too many leads or just bad process. The customer says “I’m still looking – but call me.” They’re open to alternative solutions, and they still are ready to buy a car.
Fix it by implementing a better process for the 7+ to 14+ days aged lead. Make sure you have a trained sales person working on follow up, armed with solutions to meet the customer’s needs. Customers’ expectations change based on what their research and inquiries have told them, and you can take advantage of this.
• The outdated but still widely used philosophy is to prioritize getting the customer into the store, and to hold price hostage until the customer does show up in person.
Fix it by knowing that data is too plentiful, and that there are dealers ready to talk price. Prepare yourself using tools like vAuto and doing research to know where other dealers in your market are priced. You can also go to CarsDirect, TrueCar, Edmunds, and other places to find new car pricing by market.
We have sold well over 100,000 vehicles (almost entirely in California) through our brokering business to customers we have never met and never laid eyes on. We designed our communication to fit into the customer’s buying process, not force them into our selling process. The best dealers executing the highest sales rates understand this dynamic. They’ll do dealer trades, search for used cars all over the country using things like the online wholesale auctions, and they have delivery solutions for their customers.
Treat the call center/phone sales job like the description says – look at dials, talk time, lead conversion cycle time. How many leads does your sales rep handle? Do they turn and burn, or are they a plodder holding on and not able to take on the right volume? If you manage to their strengths then there are big rewards. But most of all, you need to make sure you understand why customers do and don’t buy from you.
VP Sales, CarsDirect