Internet prospects require a fair amount of effort if you’re going to achieve any level of real success. You can’t expect a salesperson without the right tools, training and dealership support to accomplish as much as one who has all these things. If you are going to get serious about selling cars to Internet shoppers, you need to have:
A good prospect management tool that includes ongoing communication tools and sold customer management. Internet buyers have an average shopping cycle over three months long, so the ability to maintain consistent communication is a vital requirement for success. Also, Internet buyers are among the most loyal buyers and represent an excellent referral source if they are handled properly after their purchase.
A solid foundation of Internet sales skills. An Internet salesperson who knows how to read “between the lines” of an Internet lead for response clues, and who can write the kind of response that builds a relationship instead of terminating it, will have twice the response rate of one who lacks the skills. Think it’s easy? As an industry, we still spend millions of dollar per year on how to use the telephone effectively, and we’ve had them since before the first dealership came into existence! If the telephone had been invented five years ago (when the Internet first hit our showrooms), how effective would your average, untrained salesperson be in using it?
- Genuine management support. Internet salespeople need to have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and objectives if they are going to achieve maximum results. They also need to know what they can do with pricing, off-site presentations, financing and leasing options and vehicle locating. Many dealerships fail to address these issues definitively when they first set up their Internet department, and the salesperson ends up with a “policy of the day” mindset that destroys the long-term credibility required to sell Internet shoppers.
Even with all of these needs in place, there are a maximum number of leads that one Internet salesperson can effectively work with. Our experience has shown us that the optimum number of leads for a typical Internet salesperson with all the resources described above is 100. This level of lead volume allows the salesperson to properly respond to all new leads received (including making the all-important phone call!), maintain their scheduled, continue ongoing follow-up with older prospects, provide proper presentations to “hot” prospects, provide the kind of deliveries that generate high CSI results, and solicit referrals and future business from prior customers. This should also leave them enough time to do at least one “dealership” mass e-mail like a service promotion, newsletter, rebate announcement or some other general event. If you attempt to deluge the salesperson with more than this optimum number, you will probably be disappointed by your results. You may even end up spending substantially more money on leads – only to end up selling the same number of vehicles!
As the lead volume increases beyond the “optimum,” the quality of sales efforts lowers the closing rates proportionately. This is the result of the salesperson “shortcutting” the sales process and “cherry picking” the easier prospects at the expense of the more challenging buyers. The net result is that even though you’re getting (and paying for!) more leads, you’re not delivering any more vehicles!
One more thing to remember, you can’t always trust your Internet salesperson to tell you when they’re over their head! It’s the nature of the sharpest salespeople to want as many chances to “tell their story” as they can get, even when they know they’re letting some good opportunities slip through their fingertips because they didn’t have time to work the prospect properly. Who wants to tell their dealer that they “can’t keep up,” and risk having their opportunities reduced?
So before you jump headfirst into the deep waters of pay-per-lead generation, make sure your Internet salespeople know how to swim!