Buckets and Your Internet Sales Processes

Buckets and Your Internet Sales Processes

For most automotive sales managers, the internet sales and other CRM follow-up processes their store employs can seem confusing on the surface. Some “computer guy” manages the whole “CRM thing” and creates these “complicated algorithms” that keep the processes firing as designed.

Except that CRM processes – especially those dealing with lead handling – aren’t complicated at all; and, they certainly don’t have to be confusing.

It’s All About Buckets

Sales and follow-up processes in an easy-to-use CRM like Dominion’s Web Control (which, I highly recommend because it’s not only simple, but robust and shockingly inexpensive) are all about setting up and managing the right buckets. 

Buckets? Really?

Yep. Instead of looking at your sales processes as complicated paths, think of them as just buckets where we store the customers and prospects who meet certain criteria.

First let’s start with the two basic buckets you’ll want to use for all inbound internet leads: Working and Non-Working. (By the way, feel free to name the buckets – err, processes – anything you want if your CRM allows you to do so.)

  • Non-Working Bucket – This bucket simply contains the new leads with which we have not yet reconnected. That is, we’re not yet “working” with these prospects. This bucket contains the basic internet sales process that works to drive a connection with the prospect.
  • Working Bucket – This bucket contains the prospects you’re working with. They got here when you reconnected with them (while they were in the Non-Working Bucket). Once you made contact with them, you moved them to this bucket.

Simple, right?

These are the basic buckets for internet sales and every CRM likely includes these two by default. It’s the ability to easily create and manage sub-buckets that separates the great CRMs from the one you’re might be using.

The Non-Working Sub-Buckets

Within your Non-Working Bucket, you’ll want to have sub-buckets that contain the basic processes for different lead types. I encourage you to create the following four (at a minimum):

  • Traditional Lead Bucket – This bucket contains those leads that include a vehicle of interest (or, at least, a Year/Make/Model) and have a phone number. This is the basic internet sales process that probably came with your CRM. Over time, you’ll want to create additional sub-buckets under the Traditional Lead Bucket for New Vehicles versus Used Vehicles (at a minimum).
  • No-Phone Lead Bucket – As the name suggests, the leads that are moved to this bucket either have no phone number attached or a bad phone number. The reason you need a separate process for these leads is simple: You can’t phone these prospects, so having your CRM prompt for calls means your team is either going to skip assigned activities (bad) or mark these activities as completed when they were not (equally bad). Plus, because we cannot call these leads, we need more email templates to fire (in place of the calls) and we need these emails to focus more specifically on generating a call back.
  • Trade-In Lead Bucket – Trade-in leads are not vehicle leads; despite sometimes having a vehicle of interest attached. If you’d like to actually connect with and close your trade leads, then you need a process that focuses on the trade vehicle and not the vehicle of interest.
  • Credit Application Lead Bucket – Prospects willing to complete your credit application online represent your lowest funnel internet sales leads. However, sending these prospects your generic templates that focus on the vehicle will not convince them to reconnect with you. For credit application prospects, you need templates and scripts that convince them how easy and smart it is to get financed through you.

Of course, these are just the four most common processes you’ll need under the Non-Working Bucket. Top dealers might have twenty or more sub-buckets that, for example, fire different email templates based on lead source. (Think about it, wouldn’t it make sense to send your Autoweb conquest prospects a different, more urgent message than those from your website?)

The Working Sub-Buckets

What you learn from the prospect (once you’ve reconnected) and where you take them determines which sub-bucket you’ll move them to. The four basic sub-buckets I like to see inside the Working Bucket include:

  • Appointment Bucket – This bucket is used once you set an appointment with a prospect; it includes your appointment confirmation process. (Some dealers with simple-to-use CRMs like Web Control will also create a No-Show Bucket to trigger their follow-up communications for prospects who miss their scheduled appointments.)
  • Be-Back Bucket – Simply put, this bucket contains your unsold follow-up process and templates.
  • Sold Bucket – This bucket contains your sold follow-up steps, including your long-term owner marketing process.
  • Lost Bucket – For most dealers, this is simply where you put your dead leads. This might include those prospects that never reconnected or those that bought elsewhere. (Of course, if you have a robust CRM, you can create additional sub-buckets within the Lost Bucket that trigger specific processes based on the reason they are considered lost: Bought Elsewhere; No Credit; etc.)

Again, these are just the four most common processes you’ll need under the Working Bucket. Top dealers might have dozens of additional sub-buckets to cover every customer situation that might require a different follow-up path.

Don’t Overthink This Stuff

But, like all processes, don’t overthink these. Processes that work are simple (anyone can understand them); they’re intuitive (they make sense); they’re repeatable (we can easily do them over and over); and they’re enforced (you hold people accountable to them).

For sales managers, I’ve found that when we look at processes simply as buckets that contain specific customers instead of convoluted formulae created by a mad scientist, it makes understanding how to manage and improve these an easy task.

Good selling!