Need more leads? Whenever sales are slow, one of the first reactions from salespeople, and sometimes their managers, is to proclaim they need more leads or better leads.
In response, they might run a lead generation campaign which results in a temporary lift in lead volume. The problem is, when the campaign ends, the lead volume drops back to less than optimal levels.
A better, more consistent approach is to build a lead generation process into your culture. The process should also include lead follow up, so you’re maximizing the potential of every lead.
If sales is a numbers game, then your CRM is the PlayStation. Lead volume is an important number, but equally so are connection rates, set appointments, appointment shows and closing rates. The answer to more leads is to build a sales culture around the CRM and to focus on CRM usage.
I’m a big believer that usage and enforcement of processes must come from the top down. In the most successful stores, it’s typically a GM, GSM or Sales Director who is the CRM power user. We like to call this person the CRM Champion, and I always recommend appointing one person for this role—and please don’t appoint an IT person. How can you expect your sales team to use the CRM if senior sales management isn’t using it themselves, or enforcing its usage?
The best way to enforce CRM usage is to build an activity-based process. This starts with logging every person that walks into your dealership. I don’t care if they’re just stopping by to look or they say they’re not ready to buy. If they’re in your dealership, log them.
The same goes for logging phone ups. Whenever a person calls, for whatever reason, the call should be logged. Not logging phone ups is probably the largest area of missed opportunities for dealers.
Logging every lead is critical because it’s impossible to manage and follow up with leads unless they’ve been logged in the first place.
Salespeople should also be trained in the art of prospecting both in person and on social media. Get to know your customers, ask for referrals and learn how to master the phone.
Whether you believe it or not, the customer who was on your lot yesterday really does want to be followed up with. If they don’t answer your phone or text, keep trying. They’re not trying to insult you, maybe they’re just busy and you’re not a top priority. After all, most people don’t need a new car right away.
I also recommend that lead generation be addressed in daily save-a-deal meetings. When one deal is closed you have to know where the next deal is coming from. The lead is the beginning of the deal, and most salespeople need to learn how to prospect and generate their own leads. If you don’t coach them or hold them accountable, you’ll hear the inevitable, “these leads are terrible.”
Your CRM Champion should also be using the CRM on a regular basis for equity mining and to find past customers that can be turned into new leads.
For lead generation to be part of your culture, you also need to implement performance mandates. Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.
The best way for the CRM Champion to manage performance is by activities. When I was starting out in sales, I was unmanageable, like a speedboat in a no-wake zone. So, my manager managed me by activities. He assigned me tasks, and I completed them, or there were consequences – which usually affected my pay.
Identify the six or seven most important activities that salespeople must do in order to close the deal. Assign those tasks to every salesperson, then hold them accountable. The best way to enforce accountability is with a monetary consequence. Try scaling bonuses and commissions based on how well each stage of the deal was recorded in the CRM.
Finally, always demonstrate how the CRM can make an individual more successful. Most people are not inherently organized or detail oriented, but a CRM forces you to become that way.
The CRM is much more than a lead repository and communications system. When set up correctly, the CRM becomes the process that leads to success. So, if you ever hear someone on your sales team complain about leads, investigate the team’s usage of the CRM. When your sales culture is built around your CRM, lead generation never stops.
Author: Bill Wittenmeyer
Bill Wittenmeyer has over more than 20 years of experience in the automotive space and currently manages multiple divisions within his organization including sales, marketing, OEM relationships and large-client accounts. He speaks at several prominent automotive forums each year. Before joining ELEAD1ONE, he spent several years in dealership operations management.