Automotive Internet Sales: The Difference Makers
I see all kinds of internet sales structures; from high-performing BDCs to cherry-picking internet sales teams to the hot-mess-convoluted-no-one-is-accountable combinations. To be clear, any structure can work (some, of course, better than others) if the store leadership drives the activities.
That’s a big if. Some automotive sales managers, in their defense, simply don’t know what activities to drive. They’re not aware of the difference makers.
The Difference Between Winning & Losing with Internet Sales
When I compare those teams legitimately closing their internet leads above 10-15% to those closing at 4-6%, I always see the same six key differences. Interestingly (or maybe, not surprisingly), most of these have been taught for years… yet, no one is really enforcing them at low-performing dealerships.
#1 Be First!
Today’s internet prospect is bombarded with emails they consider spam the second they hit “submit” on a lead form. Additionally, because so much of what they need to know is already online, they’re rarely willing to work with more than one seller at a time.
That’s why we’re seeing the first internet seller to reach the customer is often the only one they’ll deal with… until they either buy or decide to move on.
Top teams make a call and send a text within a few minutes of receiving the lead. Doing so, gives them an advantage over those relying on email to do their work. If you want to know what activities you should enforce, it’s an immediate call and text (in that order) when a new lead is received.
#2 Make Every Required Call!
It’s not surprising when you look at an internet team that includes those closing above 10% and those closing below 5% to see that the top sellers are making every call required by the CRM, while those on the bottom often make just one call.
It’s not complicated. In fact, it’s kind of insane that I even have to point this out. If you want to know what activities you should enforce, it’s that every scheduled call is made… on time.
#3 Always Leave a Voicemail!
It’s kind of crazy, but there are still BDC trainers out there telling your team to not leave a voicemail every time they call a prospect. What a waste!
Today’s internet prospects are ready to buy… but they fear sales pressure. So, they often avoid taking your call the first, second, or even the sixth time you phone them.
By not leaving a voicemail, you miss the opportunity to ask for a call back; you miss the opportunity to give them the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) in dealing with you; you miss the opportunity for them to simply hear your pleasant voice and understand you’re a real person just trying to do your job. If you want to know what activities you should enforce, it’s that everyone leaves a voicemail every time.
#4 Always Highlight Your Persistence!
The act of leaving a voicemail has just one goal: To drive a call back. Of course, prospects don’t always comply, do they? Letting them know you’re going to keep trying to help them is called “highlighting your persistence,” and it’s proven to increase call backs (which decreases the number of calls an internet seller or BDC agent must make).
Highlighting your persistence is as simple as ending every voicemail with a pleasant, “…and don’t worry if you can’t get back to me right away, I’ll try you again later.”
For my clients who do this religiously, their teams get more calls returned and more prospects take their next call, all because the seller let the prospect know they’re not giving up. If you want to know what activities you should enforce, it’s to ensure your internet sellers are highlighting their persistence with every voicemail.
#5 Leverage the Lead Source!
It’s an unfortunate fact, but prospects tend to trust the lead source (Autotrader, CarGurus, TrueCar, etc.) more than they trust the dealer. To help leverage the trust of a known lead source, top internet teams start with this in their calls and voicemails (and some even do this in their emails). They simply begin with:
“Hi, this is Steve from the Kelley Blue Book desk at Joe’s Ford…”
“Hi, this is Steve from the USAA desk at Joe’s Ford…”
“Hi, this is Steve from the Costco…”
I think you get the idea. If you want to know what activities you should enforce, it’s to teach your team how to properly leverage the lead source (and reinforce this).
#6 Use an Appointment-First Approach!
If the prospect has questions, they’ll ask them. If they need more information, they’ll tell you this. However, given that most internet sellers start their calls with “Did you need any more information about the …” or “Can I answer any questions for you about the …,” prospects create questions and objections that didn’t exist before you asked that weak question.
Start by asking for the appointment! This is called an Appointment-First Approach. By doing this, you avoid creating questions or objections the prospect didn’t have.
When you invite questions and objections, you most often get caught in a back and forth “information exchange” that ends with the prospect so satisfied they never need to visit your dealership. Congratulations! You were extremely helpful. Great news, of course, until you get your paycheck.
To be clear, you should answer every question a prospect asks; though, if you begin by asking for the appointment, you’ll avoid the smokescreen questions and objections from those who are ready to buy today. If you want to know what activities you should enforce, it’s to ensure your internet sellers always begin their calls by asking for the appointment.
These are the difference makers, and if your sellers aren’t legitimately closing their internet leads at a rate above 10%, I guarantee they’re failing to employ most or all of these.