Article

Blocking And Tackling: Getting Back To The Basics with Your Internet Department

September 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Dan Hankins - Also by this author

News flash! The best Internet tools available today won’t sell you one more car. This is so important that it bears repeating. The best Internet tools available today won’t sell you one more car. Just as shoulder pads, cleats and helmets don’t make a football team, the same is true in that your Web site, CRM lead manager and lead sources (whether they be from your own Web site or a third party) don’t have as great an impact on your success as the way your Internet team executes it’s “playbook”.

Of course, the quality of your “equipment” can contribute greatly to your success. No running back or lineman can perform up to their potential with ill fitting shoes, loose shoulder pads and helmets that fit so tight they seem to be cutting off circulation to the brain.

Similarly, a poorly designed Web site that is hard for your customer to navigate, that doesn’t provide information the customer finds valuable and that gives them just as many reasons not to submit a lead as to submit a lead will greatly limit the high closing percentage leads it provides for your team to generate sales.

Additionally, if your lead management tool is hard to use and lacks the functionality to handle routine communication chores as well as critical reporting functions, your team will be forced to spend too much valuable time at the keyboard, instead of on the phones setting appointments; and they’ll never have the reports necessary to measure how well they are performing the activities necessary to increase sales.

But just as in football, athleticism, determination and execution go a long way in making up the difference in your Internet department.

In the Internet department, your team’s “athleticism” is measured by its team members’ phone skills and NOT their keyboard skills. One basic fundamental aspect of “Internet athleticism” is lead response time, and it’s critical to converting leads into appointments. According to a report recently published by a well respected technology research company, the average lead response time for the majority of leads submitted by customers online is over 48 hours. This report also states that 43 percent of all leads submitted to dealers are not followed up on at all! If you want to see a significant increase in your Internet department sales, put the processes in place to make sure you average lead response time to all Internet leads is less than one hour.

The other fundamental skill that determines your “Internet athleticism” is the quality of the call. Many Web sites today provide multiple types of leads. These leads could vary in type from customers requesting a test drive, to wanting an appraisal on a trade-in, to applying for financing, to filling out an online discount coupon good towards the purchase of a new or used vehicle. Poorly executing teams respond to each lead in the same manner, never refining their dialog, especially during the introduction of the call, to add value, to the communication from the customer’s point of view. This results in poor call flow and, more often than not, a poor appointment setting ratio. This can be improved upon greatly by using call guides that help refine the dialog as it pertains to the type of lead that was submitted, using dialog that naturally guides the customer to the realization that it makes sense to meet with someone at the dealership to move forward in the buying process. Effective use of call guides takes practice, but with enough practice, their use becomes second nature and greatly improves execution in the appointment setting process, leading to more appointments and improved sales.

To sum it up, increasing your Internet team “athleticism” by improving their lead response time and constantly improving their phone skills and appointment setting processes will go a long way in creating the sales and profits you feel you should be getting out of your Internet department.

Almost 1.8 million people submitted a lead online related to the purchase of a vehicle every month last year. The dealers who are constantly striving to increase their proficiency with the basic fundamentals in properly handling their inquiries are selling more cars through their Internet departments, generating more gross profits per sale, reducing their advertising costs and adding value to the sales process in the eyes of their customers.

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