A frustration often expressed by salespeople who regularly follow-up on web-generated leads, no matter the source, is not being able to engage the customer in conversation when they reach them. Salespeople often are met with resistance and cannot understand why a customer would voluntarily submit their personal contact information in the form of a lead, yet balk when the dealership reaches out by phone to answer their questions, making it difficult to sell to them if you cannot speak to them. Together, we can identify the problem and work toward fixing it.
A big part of the solution lies in proper preparation before attempting a call. Understand that with all the information online your customer likely has seen the car in multiple photos, its selling price and the vehicle’s location. The fact that they have taken the next step and submitted a lead (request for more information) should put a bounce in your step and get you excited about the opportunity to speak with them. By doing so they have already acknowledged that this vehicle is of great interest to them. You’re already halfway home!
However, when you receive a lead and immediately pick up the phone without first forwarding additional vehicle and dealership information, you are putting yourself in a very precarious position. You see, Internet customers have become accustomed to having more control in the sales process than ever before. They also have told us that they prefer the initial response to their lead come in the same way in which they initiated the relationship – online. One of the reasons they elect to initiate the relationship online is so they can decide if and when they want to move forward. That means you must first give them a reason to want to speak with you as opposed to another salesperson. If your customer unexpectedly receives a phone call from someone they don’t know and were not expecting to hear from, they most likely will not be ready to mentally engage in the call and will say almost anything to remove themselves from what they consider to be a “cold call.” I know, it makes no sense to us since they were the ones who initiated the relationship, but in their mind they don’t know who you are, where you are from or why you are calling and do not like being caught off guard and vulnerable.
The first key to set the stage for the phone call is to forward three emails. Remember, e-mail is the customer’s preference. The purpose of the first e-mail is to acknowledge receipt of their lead, introduce yourself, your dealership and a brief value proposition and to set their expectations as to how this process will work. The purpose of the second email is to ask a couple of brief, open-ended questions, helping you provide them specific information to satisfy their concerns. The third e-mail, after receiving responses to your open-ended questions or if not receiving a response to your questions using the information originally submitted on the lead, is to provide them information and the price on the specific vehicle they requested (or as close to it that you have in stock if it is a new-vehicle request) and other vehicle choices with comparable or less equipment on new cars or comparable vehicle class if it is a pre-owned vehicle request. The reason for this is many customers, on the lot or on the web, will buy a different vehicle than the one they originally intended.
Only after you have provided the car shopper with this information and generated buy-in that you are a viable solution to their car shopping needs, have you earned the right to call this customer. You might think this process sounds crazy, but try it. I think you will find that you spend a couple more minutes forwarding e-mails, but by properly setting up the phone call you will save hours of dialing unanswered numbers, leaving voicemails and entering multiple notes in your CRM about your phone call attempts that went unrewarded.
To help you along I have a detailed document I will be happy to forward and discuss with anyone who requests it, and I will provide testimonials from many who initially were skeptical, but have become raving fans.