Best Automotive Internet Sales Processes: How to Perfect Your Trade-In Lead Handling

Best Automotive Internet Sales Processes: How to Perfect Your Trade-In Lead Handling

It’s well known that many buyers are suspicious of the trade values your team provides them in-person; but, what happens when your online trade-in tool provides consumers a value? How can you both reinforce this unbiased, third-party number and keep a prospect engaged (when they may feel lowballed by the online offer)?

For most dealers, your online trade-in tool is primarily a lead-driver. That is, it’s key function is to entice website visitors – both sales and service – to exchange their personal information for a value on their current vehicle. Consumers don’t take these steps because they’re bored; they’re somewhere in the sales funnel and completing your trade-in lead form could bring them closer to buying sooner rather than later.

But… then they learn the book value. They owe $16,000 and your online trade tool just told them their vehicle is worth $12,000. For most consumers, this is all they need to know: In their minds they can’t buy today. Perhaps in a year, but not right now.

The problem for you, of course, is that the prospect is sitting at home – not at the dealership – so defending the value or focusing on their vehicle of interest or payments just aren’t options. They’re not taking your calls or returning your emails. Moreover, they’re not buying today.

Trade Leads Are Website Leads

Dealers with good internet sales processes routinely close their websites sales leads (ePrice, Instant Retargeting, Credit Application, etc.) more than 20% of the time. Website leads, after all, are first-party leads and the prospects are generally lower in the sales funnel than with almost any other lead type.

Given this, why is it most dealers close their trade leads about 6-8% of the time? These are website leads, aren’t they?

Yes, these are website leads; though, because the prospect may not be happy with the value provided, they’re not likely to engage with your team when you follow a traditional internet sales process. Trade-in leads are not traditional leads. They’re different and they require a different process – one that focuses on the trade vehicle and not on their vehicle of interest.

Given that many prospects may feel lowballed, a good trade-in internet sales process is almost like taking someone through the five stages of grief: getting them from denial and anger, on to bargaining, perhaps a little depression and finally acceptance.

The Best Trade-In Lead Handling Process

Why do trade leads need their own process? Don’t most trade-in leads arrive in the CRM with a vehicle of interest attached?

They do, though when dealers focus on the vehicle of interest instead of the trade vehicle, they see lower connection rates and lower close rates.

This is caused primarily by two factors. First, most prospects were simply trying to value their trade and may not be sold on the selected vehicle of interest. Second, even if they do want the selected vehicle of interest, when you focus on the vehicle of interest you become the seller. Conversely, by focusing on their trade you become the buyer. It’s a different dynamic at play and focusing on the trade makes the prospect more receptive to your messages.

My current trade-in lead handling process is 60 days long – 33% longer than my traditional lead handling process. The rationale is that the trade-in prospect could very well be a service customer. A service customer, of course, is often higher in the sales funnel than someone who submits a traditional sales lead.

The Goal

For all lead handling processes, the first goal is to reconnect with the prospect. That is, to get them on the phone or to respond to your emails. (Until they do, they’re considered a non-responsive prospect.)

The best processes don’t ask your team to make unnecessary calls, but rather to focus on the right amount of calls and emails that drive the reconnection. Once we’ve connected, we focus on our new goal, which is setting an appointment that shows. (You can learn how to generate and sell more trade-in leads with this free video training: How to Attract & Sell More Trade-In Leads.)

The best call-to-action in our emails and voicemails to non-responsive trade customers is like other internet sales processes – that is, “please call me back today at …” However, the real issue is that the prospect probably doesn’t like the value given. Therefore, your focus needs to include some messaging about the need to physically inspect their vehicle to perhaps get them more money.

When you assume that every trade lead prospect feels as if they got lowballed – and that their vehicle of interest was more of a placeholder – your word tracks will be more effective at driving that reconnection:

  • “We’re excited to see your trade.”
  • “Let’s schedule a quick appraisal so we can get you the most money.”
  • “Only a trained appraiser knows what your vehicle is really worth.”
  • “We’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy ours.”

If you’d like help in writing the word tracks and emails for your trade leads process, start with this free video lesson: How to Create the Automotive Trade-In Lead Internet Sales Process. Once you complete this, you’ll be on your way to better understanding these prospects and you’ll start selling more of these leads. If you need additional help, feel free to contact me anytime!

Good selling!