A new study finds dealers as a group are outpacing other U.S. business owners in lead follow-up — despite countless missed opportunities. Photo by Andrew Malone
FOSTER CITY, Calif. — While the automotive industry as a whole performed better than other industries, many dealers are still not hitting best-practice targets. In fact, a significant number of automotive retailers failed to respond to incoming inquiries at all.
That was the conclusion of Conversica's “2016 Sales Effectiveness Report on Lead Follow-Up in the Automotive Industry.” Framing its findings in the context of the four “P”s of successful lead engagement — promptness, personalization, persistence and performance — the artificial intelligence software provider's analysts set out to determine the extent to which auto dealers are putting this information into practice.
The study, which involved secret shoppers reaching out to 59 companies in the automotive industry (and 538 companies total), revealed that there are many things dealers are getting right. Of the nine industries examined, automotive had by far the highest proportion of top-tier scores, with more than one-third of respondents (38%) receiving an overall “A” grade.
Of those dealerships that did respond, nearly half (49%) responded within five minutes. Additional, only 6% took more than 24 hours, while only 25% made eight or more attempt to reply to queries, according to the report.
Almost three-quarters (74%) of dealers who responded utilized all four key elements of personalization: a personalized greeting, a specific mention of the lead’s inquiry, the inclusion of specific contact information, and time patterning, referring to the practice of sending responses at a time of day similar to the inquiry.
While the auto industry as a whole performed well compared to other industries, there was still plenty of room for improvement. Conversica found that nearly one in five dealers (19%) did not respond at all to a direct sales inquiry from their website, and 75% failed to make the eight or more attempts that research demonstrates are needed to engage an internet lead. Only 2% of dealers responded to queries with emails that were more than 90% likely to avoid spam filters.
“Internet leads are an expensive resource, crucial to the success of automotive dealerships,” said Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica. “Our annual report offers a snapshot of how dealerships are handling leads today and how that behavior is changing over time. We compared real-world execution with best-practice research to help dealerships see where they’re performing well but also to pinpoint processes that need to improve.”
To obtain the full text of the report, click here.