Spring is (almost) here and now is the time to dig into your customer lists, clean them up, and re-engage with leads that have gathered some dust on them. As busy or as profitable as dealerships are right now, the number one most important person to you is your guests. Maintaining and building relationships with them is key to continued success, and that means diving into your CRM or DMS and connecting with customers you may have put to the side for lower-funnel, in-front-of-you shoppers. Maintaining a solid process for future relationships and sales is key to growth.
Long-term connections are a huge part of maintaining and growing the dealership. Here are a few reasons why engaging with forgotten leads is critical, and some ways to take advantage of these lists you can pull. Because, as you know, there is no better or stronger data than the data sitting in your CRM.
Why You Cannot Ignore Your Unengaged Leads
Automotive buyers are connected in ways they have never been before, and while it is understood that they are researching online and visiting an average of 2 dealerships prior to purchase, we also know that shoppers are in the market for an average of 89 days (Cox Automotive 2021 Study).
Most dealerships have a solid process for the first 7, 14, or even 30 days post first engagement, but what happens after that? Shoppers are still looking and many have yet to purchase the vehicle of choice. Constant, quality, and professional engagement is necessary to maintain and build a relationship that convinces the consumer to purchase from you. 80% of sales are made after five follow-up engagements. How many of your salespeople or agents give up after 1?
Here are some industry best practices to ensure you not only have the best first engagement, but also quality, informative, and purposeful follow-up to help lead that customer to your showroom.
What to do
Knowing what to do is easy. Implementing it is the hard part. Below are some suggestions on ways to engage with consumers that are not overly difficult to put into practice, but will affect your overall appointments set and potentially conversions.
Follow Up Fast
As Ricky Bobby said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” The MIT Lead Response Management Study supports Ricky’s sage advice with data that shows a huge decline in lead responsiveness if you wait an hour. But what was really interesting was the difference in just 5 minutes. Your odds of contacting a customer decrease 5x from 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
If you are calling the customer, you have the best chances of reaching them. But after-hours leads are just as important, and the majority of those will be responded to via email. How you respond is just as important as responding fast. You need to add value, address/answer questions, and begin building that relationship. Which means, don’t automate the first response.
Don’t Automate the First Response
Leads come in at all different hours of the day, and most have different approaches to those leads. 10 am? They get an original email, a phone call, another email. 10pm? That customer may get an entirely different experience. Most dealerships send an auto-response as a placeholder until they can get to that customer the next day.
Here’s the thing.
Those leads cost the exact same amount, have the same opportunity and potential to convert, yet one we give a white glove experience and one we ask to wait hours before sending an original engagement, answer questions, or ask the customer questions about their search.
Each and every customer deserves the same attention, regardless of when they have the time to shop online, find what they are looking for, and submit a request for information. Automotive knows better than any other industry that consumers value relationships, and the first to respond with an original response that addresses questions, asks about their needs, and engages has a higher chance of winning the business.
Regardless of the hour, treat every customer the same and respond with an original, non-autoresponder email. If staffing is an issue (which will be at 11pm on a Tuesday) check out Overnight BDC.
First action step? Turn off your autoresponder.
Have Specific Sequences for Segmented Long Term Follow Up
While autoresponders can be a turn-off for consumers, sequences are a fantastic way to ensure your leads don’t fall through the cracks. Well-curated templates, call schedules and text messages are the perfect way to consistently reach out to customers who have not responded to messages or have not yet purchased from your dealership. The steps below will help you evaluate your process, update old templates, and make sure customers receive the right engagement at the right time.
- Use your CRM data to segment your audience lists by interest, stage in the buying process, lease return date–however you want to target your customers.
- Update all old templates.
- Replace with new current messaging, logos, and dealership information.
- Make sure to add a value statement or message specific to each audience segment. Give them a reason to read and respond.
- Make sure all CTAs are accurate, including phone numbers, SMS numbers, addresses, etc.
- Read the content out loud. And then read it again. If you stumble over the wording, your customers will, too.
Don’t Ignore the Customers Who Have Disengaged
Remember that 89 day stat? Customers are in the market for a while, and engagement is the best way to let them know you want to earn their business. Inventory issues are leading customers to search multiple sites, and digital retailing and online purchase processes have allowed dealers to sell out of their PMA more than ever before.
Long-term engagement with customers lets them know you are willing to work to earn their business. A series of calls, emails, and text messages will keep you top of mind, as long as your messaging provides information, answers questions, or gives them a reason to purchase from you.
Train your Sales BDC on the specific elements that will keep customers from looking elsewhere for vehicles. Do they know and understand the online buying process? Do they know to let customers know they can order their brand new vehicle if there is not one on the lot? If the customer is getting close to their lease end, is there a specific talk track to get them to come in for a pre-inspection?
Calling your customer lists and re-engaging them is critical. Many times, though, these are the lowest level of priority for dealerships. And with staffing at a historic low and with difficulty keeping, training, and retaining BDC agents, it may benefit you to outsource calling these all-important customers. The main point is to reach out to them, don’t ignore them, and reignite the relationship.
Because people buy from people they like. And people like when you build a relationship with them.
Take the time to get with your BDC Manager or team to review your audience segments, your first quality response, and your long-term follow-up. The messaging and the offering you provide to your potential customers would be the difference between a sold or lost customer.
And if you need help with your engagement, Better Car People is here to help.