Are You Wasting Your Dealership's Leads?

Are You Wasting Your Dealership’s Leads? [How to Keep Leads Engaged]



Picture this. You’ve set up digital ad campaigns highlighting your current inventory on Facebook, Instagram, Google, Craigslist, and/or OfferUp. 

One of your ads for a used SUV received significant interest and generated several leads. So much so that it sold almost immediately.

But, you still have several people who reached out to you about the vehicle. What a dealership does with these leads is what separates the pros from the amateurs…

Dealership lead response

So, what would you do?

  1. Ignore the leads who reached out about the sold vehicle. No sense wasting your time when the vehicle is gone. Time to move on to the next lead
  2. Reply to the message with “SOLD”
  3. Send several options for vehicles of similar makes/models that you do have in stock when letting each lead know the vehicle they were interested in sold
  4. Let the prospect know the vehicle sold, send vehicle alternatives that your dealership does have in stock, inquire about what the lead is looking for, and continue to follow up as more vehicles come in stock that match the prospect’s goals

Hopefully, you answered with option four above, or at the least option three… 

Whenever someone takes the time to send you a message, that means they are engaged enough in the buying process that they are taking action. Embracing this lead and helping them find the right vehicle is imperative.

Good marketing (and sales) is all about getting people to know, like, and trust you, while also making the process as easy as possible. If you brush off leads because you’ve already sold a vehicle, you might as well send your new lead a list of your top competitors. 

You spend a lot of money on car dealership digital marketing. Don’t waste the leads you spent valuable money on.

The Disconnect Between Car Buyer & Seller

When you think about the average car buyer you work with, what do you think is the #1 thing they don’t like about buying a car?

In 2016, DealerSocket aimed to answer this question with the Dealership Action Report

This report surveyed more than 2,000 car buyers who had made their purchase within the previous 12-months. The survey then contrasted the responses with dealership perceptions.

Here are a few of the most interesting findings from the survey:

  • Only 19% of consumers said they enjoyed the car buying process
  • The top reason surveyed customers said they didn’t like the car buying process was because of a lack of trust in automotive salespeople (29%)
  • Before the survey was conducted, dealers only expected 16% of consumers to choose automotive salespeople’s trustworthiness as the main reason consumers wouldn’t like the car buying process

This survey exposed an obvious disconnect between car buyers and car dealers.

Top Reason Customers Don't Like Car Buying Process

So, how can automotive salespeople rise above the “used car salesman” stereotype and get their new leads to know, like, and trust them?

Well, there are a few proven ways. 

First, let’s cover how you can improve trust when a lead first reaches out to you…

Properly Following Up on Leads

Over the years, J.D. Power has aimed to survey consumers who have purchased cars to uncover what exactly makes their purchase experience better or worse.

Based on this research, here are a few proven ways you can make a strong first impression with your new leads and come across as respectful, communicative, empathetic, and responsive. 

Ask and Use Preferred Methods of Communication

Does your buyer prefer to communicate via phone, text, email, or in-person? Make sure that you know the answer to this question. In fact, you probably want to include it on your lead forms if possible.

As the average age of car buyers shifts to younger generations, more modern communication methods are what is preferred and normal.  A J.D. Power 2018 survey noted that texting and email are much more likely to be preferred by younger generations like Gen-Z, Millennials, and Gen-X. 

Ask and User Dealership Buyers' Preferred Method of Communication

These generations are taking up a larger part of the consumer market every day, so it’s important dealerships adapt to meet their expectations. 

Understand Your Lead’s Goals

According to a 2020 J.D. Power survey, understanding the needs of buyers is one of three KPIs that have the highest impact on buyer satisfaction. 

So, consider asking buyers questions like:

  • Why are you purchasing a vehicle and when do you need it?
  • Is this your main car or a commuter vehicle?
  • Do you have a strong brand or type-of-vehicle preference?
  • How many seats do you need? 
  • What type of condition is acceptable (i.e. new vs like-new vs gently used vs well-loved)

When you understand your buyer’s goals, you can help them find the right vehicle and improve satisfaction. It also shows the buyer that you care about their goals, not just your commission.

And, according to a 2016 car buyer journey study from AutoTrader, most car buyers don’t know exactly what they want at the beginning of their search…

Only 34% of new car buyers knew the exact model they wanted, and even fewer (29%) of used car buyers had an exact vehicle in mind. However, many might have an idea of what body style, class, features, or brand they prefer.

Helping buyers choose the right vehicle for their lifestyle and budget is where dealerships can really provide value to shoppers – especially at the beginning of their search.

Respond Quickly

The longer you go without responding to a lead, the more likely that lead is to move on to another dealership. Ensure that all communication methods your dealership uses are being monitored (email, phone, SMS, chat, and social).

Best-in-class dealerships should be responding to leads within 10-minutes of being contacted.

When you don’t get back to leads quickly, not only do you risk that sale, but you are also risking your dealership’s reputation. 

Embrace Digital Communication (Text, SMS, Chat & Email)

According to a 2018 study from J.D. Power, overall buyer satisfaction is 19 points higher when texting with a dealership (on a 1,000 point scale). And in general, using multiple methods of communication, including, phone, text/SMS, chat, and email, in addition to face-to-face communication, is shown to improve overall buyer satisfaction.

Only 21% of luxury dealers and 15% of mass-market dealers utilize texting in their sales efforts. So, this is an easy-win strategy to get ahead of your competition while also better connecting with customers. 

And if you’re an AutoSweet Inventory Marketing customer, we have a centralized messaging system called AutoSweet Messenger that streamlines the process.

Consider a BDC for Digital Leads

If you have salespeople in the showroom that specialize in face-to-face interactions and aren’t so great at following up with online leads, then a business development center (BDC) may be your answer to following up with Internet leads.

And, if you don’t have a BDC, consider starting one or outsourcing to a service provider that specializes in lead follow-up (If you’re an AutoSweet Inventory Marketing customer, ask us about our BDC solution).

Many dealerships use their BDC to handle setting up appointments, qualify Internet leads, and work with customers to understand their goals before they visit the showroom. 

This ensures that your lead is getting top-notch customer service before they meet a salesperson. And, your BDC can ensure that your CRM is updated with all the necessary information about the lead so the salesperson can be prepared.