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After completing my Three Part series on virtual selling, I had people reach out asking for a more formal explanation of how to optimize lead handling and engagement. As we continue down our path that winds, and diverts through 2020, I want to help you maximize every single dollar spent and connect with the most customers possible. 

BCP has answered over 1 million leads, and has only seen increases since March 2020.  Automotive has continued to defy many industry trends due to Coivd, but we also understand that this bubble will not last forever. With continued quarantine, inventory issues, and the general unsteadiness of our economy, now is the best time to not only master lead handling, but all forms of relational and transactional communication.

Here are some of my inside tips. If you want to listen or re-engage with my podcasts on  Virtual Selling and Quarantine Selling, make sure to check these out.

Follow the 3T Rule

The 3T Rule is one that should guide all elements of lead response. Trustworthiness, Transparency, and Time.

Being trustworthy means that you provide your customers with all the information needed to thoroughly answer their questions. Being trustworthy means that your marketing aligns across all platforms with messaging, creative, and offers. 

Trustworthiness is a feeling and an action combined that lets the customer know they can trust you.

We do not have the time we had in March and April to do a deep dive into areas that we have ignored, but take a moment and ensure that your message (whether via email, text, chat, or advertising) is consistent. Make sure that your pricing is true pricing and not stacked with incentives that only incredibly select people will get. If your customers trust you, they will not only come back, but they will recommend you.

Transparency means that there is nothing hidden from the customer. Being transparent goes in conjunction with being trustworthy. Customers have almost ALL of the information about their vehicle of interest. They have researched, talked, watched videos, and probably studied more than some of your sales people. 

When they come in the store, be transparent with all of the information you have. Pricing? Be real. Financing? Explain it so they understand it. When customers feel as though you are transparent AND they can trust you, why would they go anywhere else?

Time is the last of the 3T’s. Respect and value the customer’s time. No one wants to spend 6 hours in a dealership trying to purchase a vehicle, but that can happen. Here are some ways to shorten the process:

  • Have a strong Digital Retailing Tool that will walk the customer through many elements of the deal
  • Have the credit app not only online, but also have the BDC and/or sales team send this out to customers when they are lower in the funnel. The more they can get done at home, the less they have to wait at the dealership
  • Provide at home test drives, vehicle delivery, and concierge services. These are just about an expectation now, and if you don’t have them, people will notice.


Offer the Best Value with the Least Amount of Touches

This has always been the mantra at BCP, but now more than ever we have seen the value of this statement. Let’s break this down together:

Every response must be fast. Like lightning fast. Like finding the video button on Zoom and turning it off fast.

It has become a game of seconds, not minutes or hours. How do you ensure that you are responding to customers immediately? The best and most engaging way is to utilize both AI and real people. Because the fastest does not always win. You also need to bring value

Customers have a world of information at their fingertips. They can find just about any piece of information concerning a car on their phone. So when they take the time to fill out a form and ask a specific question, they expect an answer. No one wants the “Thank you for inquiring about a vehicle with ABC Motors” email. And the dealership who gets back to that customer the fastest WITH the most comprehensive answers to the questions will win all day.

How do you do this?

There are a few ways to ensure your customers are getting responded to quickly with relevant answers. You really have two choices:


  • Have staff respond to leads 24 hours a day
  • Hire a solution to answer your leads--but make sure they use live people to respond. If they are only using AI, questions will be missed and responses will seem disingenuous


Customers are used to getting what they want when they want it. The Amazon economy has set this standard, and we need to meet and exceed it as much as possible.

Adjust Your Lead Treatment Schedule and Message NOW

When was the last time you got on the phone with your CRM rep and re-evaluated your CRM treatment schedules or cadences? Has it been a year since you have edited and revised your emails to customers?

Stop and think how much has happened just in the past few months. Your message may be tone deaf, outdated, or may not include the new initiatives you have implemented.

Now is the time to look at those emails and adjust. My biggest suggestion is one that not everyone loves to initiate, but they always love the response. You need to make sure you have different treatments for different third party providers. 

Not every lead is the same. Not every third party lead is low funnel. While an Edmunds may be researching, a TrueCar lead may be at the end of the research phase and looking for the best deal. Your messages must be relevant, have the appropriate tone, and give the customer the information they desire while guiding them further down the funnel. 

Also, circling back to Transparency and Trustworthiness, when you treat each lead source differently, you can acknowledge the source. Many times, when customers shop on these sites, they are not expecting messaging from the dealership. There is the misunderstanding that they are working directly with the lead provider. When you acknowledge the source, it gives the customer reassurance and reminds them of why you would be reaching out. 

Take a day with your CRM rep and do the following:

  • Remove old email treatments and cadences that should not be in place
  • Review all language and update with relevant new initiatives you have put in place (Digital Retailing, At Home Services, “Buying Online” process)
  • Treat Lead Providers differently. Start with your top 2, and then work from there.

What Now?

Leads are more important now than ever. With lagging inventory and pent up demand, you cannot miss a single customer. Use this as a guide to reflect on current practices and refresh stale processes. 

If you need help with your current BDC or are looking for a virtual solution, let’s talk!



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