Yes! You Should Treat Leads Differently.

Last week I had the privilege of being on Auto Dealer Live as part of a guest panel. The show was titled “The Internet Is Dead.” The discussion revolved around the current state of Social Selling in the automotive industry.

One of the points I made was that all leads aren’t created equal and dealerships need to start treating them differently. In hindsight I can see how a comment like this could have been taken wrong… especially not having enough time to really dive deep into what I was trying to get across. In fact, at the end of the show an industry friend came on the show and challenged my statement by responding that all customers should be treated with love, kindness, and respect regardless of where they came from.

Honestly, when I made my original comment I wasn’t even thinking about how a dealership should treat customers. Of course, dealerships should treat all customers professionally. My comment revolved more on how dealerships should handle leads. With leads coming in from so many sources today dealerships must put together personalized lead handling processes to be effective.

For example, a TrueCar lead, an Auto Trader lead, and a Website lead are all considered a “sales lead.” The challenge is that each of the leads come from different sources, are completely different, and most likely are in a different stage in the car buying process. As I consult with dealerships, many times they tell me that each of these leads gets the same automated or templated responses and are being handled the same way from their BDC/Internet department. Let’s take a closer look.

If someone sends in an inquiry from TrueCar they are most likely a price shopper. They have used a 3rd party service like TrueCar to validate what price they should be paying for that vehicle. One way to handle this type of opportunity is to let the customer know that you are the True Car rep for your dealership and that you have the experience to help them get the vehicle they are looking for. Another suggestion would be to present an alternative vehicle that might have more options and priced slightly higher to try and entice them to upgrade to a vehicle where the dealership might be able to hold more gross profit.

How about an Auto Trader lead? This shopper is usually higher in the sales funnel. They more than likely aren’t sold on the vehicle or a specific dealership. Chances are they’ve sent several leads on several vehicles to multiple dealerships. With this type of opportunity, you should provide details on the vehicle they inquired about along with 1-2 other vehicles that fit in the same style, class, and price range. Since this type of shopper isn’t committed to you or your dealership you should also take time to build value in why they should buy their next vehicle from you.

Now let’s look at website leads. I recently had a conversation with a BDC Director that explained 2 different website lead scenarios and how these leads were handled differently. One lead came from someone 3+ hours away while another lead came from a city where there’s a competitor dealership with the same brand. The dealership knows that someone that is going to buy from 3+ hours away will never service with their dealership and they are simply looking for the “best price.” Meanwhile, the customer looking to buy from the city next door is an opportunity to conquest a sale from a competitor and possibly even earn their service business for years to come. The bottom line is that this dealership handled both leads completely different with the conquest opportunity being much more valuable to the dealership long term.

It’s really this simple. Dealerships who take the time to understand their leads sources and put together a personalized lead handling process for each will set themselves apart from their competition and win more business. So, the next time you get a lead take a few minutes to think about why that customer used that source to contact you. Then plan your response accordingly. I think you will find more engagement which will lead to more appointments and sales.