The Internet is a major part of selling cars for a living today and working leads is often where the process begins. We all love Fresh Ups that bypass the Internet and head straight for the showroom, but car buyers that walk on your car lot without spending time on the Internet beforehand is becoming a thing of the past. This phenomenon is not new, it’s been happening for years and many of you have been working Internet car leads for years and taking Fresh Ups at the same time.
Now even that scenario has changed with many dealerships dedicating sales people to handle to only Internet leads. This practice of working Internet car leads is commonly known as from “Cradle to Grave”. Which means the Internet Sales Manager or salesperson derives all of their potential customers from Internet Leads generated by the dealership website, manufacturers websites and third party lead sources. With these leads they make first contact, communicate, set appointments, meet and greet, test drive, sell their appointments cars and perform deliveries. (Sounds simple, yeah right!) However there are also BDC departments which process the leads, sell the appointment, set the appointment and then if the potential customer shows up for their appointment the sales people on the floor take over the process.
No matter what scenario your dealership uses to process Internet sales leads the task of getting customers to respond to your various attempts to contact them is very frustrating at times. Getting Internet leads to respond is one of the most common questions I get from readers here at CarSalesProfessional.com.
If you have been working Internet car sales leads for any length of time you know that the best and most receptive leads come from your own website. The source of these leads are people that have been on your website and know about your dealership or at least spotted a vehicle that interests them. You may be able to reach them by telephone and if not a pleasant email will often get communications going in right direction.
Internet Leads Will Respond
However when we start talking about sales leads from the automakers websites and third party Internet leads its a different story. These leads often go to several dealerships in the area and every one of those dealerships is calling them and trying to turn them into appointments. If they don’t reach them by phone they send out an email of a template they use and some even send a low-ball price to get the customers attention. There are even services that car dealerships can subscribe to that automatically shoots out a pre-determined price along with a used and/or Certified model. No matter how it is done a small percentage of them will respond. Sometimes they have questions and on VERY RARE occasions they would like to make an appointment for a test drive. We all know that these types of Internet sales leads submitters are the lowest hanging fruit, but you will never make a living selling cars waiting for those. This is not the way to sell more cars, consider those gifts for the car gods and move on.
Back to the real world now, most Internet car sales leads will not respond, period. Your job is to get them to respond and turn them into customers because that is the only way you are going to sell more cars via the Internet. Our ultimate goal is to sell them a car, but the second most important goal is getting them to come into the dealership (preferably without giving them a price). We all know that that we can do magic when we have them in front of us and we can use our charm, wit and product knowledge. But that is where the real challenge lays and we can’t do that unless we get them to respond and start communicating.
Lets get to the meat of this post and the main reason your have read it this far. A small percentage of Internet leads won’t respond simply because they weren’t really interested, they were screwing around online or they thought that they would see a price that was 50% off list price come out of the magic box on their desk. These are just wasted leads that usually total to somewhere near 10% of your manufacturer and third party leads. Forget about those and lets worry about the other 90%. Internet sales leads often don’t respond because you haven’t give them a reason to respond or at least one that they can comprehend.
A phone call that results in a voice mail saying I got your email requesting info on the new model car your requested, “please call me back so I can help you with your car buying questions or needs” does not compel me to return a phone call. If that gets you to pick up the phone and return the call please send me a lead or call me the next time you need a car, because I have a deal for you. Now multiply that message by 3,4 or 5 of these voicemails. Which one would you call? I wouldn’t call any of them because nobody gave me a good reason. As a consumer I can get pretty much all the information I need online including a price from 4 or more other dealers and I can see if you have it in stock by visiting you dealership website. Thanks, but no thanks.
Internet Car Leads Need a Reason to Respond
When you make a phone call to potential customer from an Internet sales lead (if the number is good, which is not often) that has submitted a lead you better give them a reason to either come in to see you or a reason to call back if you leave a voice mail. The same old, same old isn’t working anymore so its time to step it up.
Whether you are talking to them in person of leaving a voice message you need to be enthusiastic, polite and different than the next salesperson that is going to leave a message or call. You need to use your imagination: Start off with great news your timing couldn’t better. We just had a sales meeting and our General Sales Manager informed us that we have an extra shipment of cars coming in and we are already tight for space. Therefore he said he will do practically anything to sell our down our inventory to make room. You might also consider telling them that you are in the middle of an unadvertised sale and they could save some big money in the next few days. The story that talks about having a sales meeting earlier in the day can often make them listen and sounds believable. Then put a twist on the rest like I did above or sales were down slightly and the General Sales Manager said we need to move some cars and there is no limit to the kind of deal he will accept.
These are the types of statements make customers listen to what you are saying. Telling them that your brand has incentives, low rate financing and rebates is not special because they know that all dealers will have the same incentives. Stories sell more cars and set appointments that show. Be creative, but not ridiculous. Give them a reason to return a call, set an appointment and see you.
Ok, no phone number or bad phone number (common) your only choice is email, so your are going to have to get them to respond, earn some trust and provide them with information. This is your only option for getting them on the phone. Much like the voicemail you need to give them a reason to email you back.
Are using the same old tired template that you have been using for years? If you are you need to throw it away. When you open a personal email and it is 5 paragraphs long and very wordy do you read every word or do you scan the message for the main point. Practically everyone scans their email messages and some delete them after reading the subject line. Your email needs to be short, to the point with as few words as possible. It should be neat, clean and uncluttered. It should look like you just typed it based on their lead or email. You should address any questions they have and you should ask one or two questions of them to in order to get a dialogue going. You may need to ask them if their lead was accurate when it came to make and model.
You can tell them that the email or lead came through your system requesting manual transmission and you wanted to know if was what they really wanted. Of course 99.9 times out of a hundred they don’t want a manual trans. Communicate through email as if they were texting you. They want quick, to the point and easy to understand information. Your attention to detail and style of getting right to the point will impress them. Many people use email today, but very few are efficient typists, that’s why texting is so popular.
One of the most important parts when it comes to email and getting customers to respond is the subject line. Before they can respond they need to open your email and if the subject line is weak they are will probably click delete. Your subject line needs to arouse their curiosity. When they want a price and they are waiting for your price the subject line is not as important, but if you are trying to get a response the subject line is critical. Like we talked above use your imagination, be creative and get them to open your email. Use words that make them curious like, revised, updated, thought you should know, you asked about, the big news, there was a change, I was just informed and anything else that you can think of that would make you want to open an email.
You can use a template, but it should be a template that you can use for almost every situation. It can contain a header preferably typed not a graphic, a line that addresses the customer such as Hi, Dear, Hello…etc. The template should be blank down to the picture of yourself (headshot is the best) and your signature line. Which can even contain a link to a video hosted at YouTube.com. A short 30-second video introducing yourself and the dealership is becoming a real attention getter. Dealers across the country are telling me about their use of video in their presentations and especially when it comes to used cars.
More on your template for getting Internet sales leads to respond, the body of you email should be short and sweet. You can load your template with different sentences that can be deleted based on the situation or you can type each one. The personalized touch is getting much better response based on the research I have been doing. Anyway, type your email body, make it short, to the point and ask a question or at least request a response. When they open the email because of your great subject line and you made it simple, easy to read and asked for a response they usually will respond as long as it’s not buried at the bottom of 3 or 4 paragraphs.
The best practice today for working Internet sales leads is to treat the customer as if they are standing in front of you. If they ask for something, answer them, they want a price, give them a price. Almost everyone that submits a lead wants a price and the form they filled out told them they would get a price. If a customer were standing in front of you would you ignore their question? If you did they would probably leave and that is what they do through email. To some people it’s all about price and nothing else, to others they want a price so they can take your email to their local dealer and ask them to meet or beat the price. To some they just want to make sure you are in the ballpark.
When it comes to getting Internet sales leads to respond to your attempts to contact them just make it simple as if you were talking to friend. You will see that simple usually works the best.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot
Start Selling More Cars via the Internet: