From capture to qualification and retargeting, AM spoke with experts in the industry to get their top five tips on lead management
1: Log all enquiries from online/phone/events
Capturing all relevant customer information is as basic as it gets with lead management – if it is not collected, leads can fall at the first hurdle.
Research from Marketing Delivery earlier this year showed that, from 200,000 customer records, dealers held incomplete information on 29%.
Rob Lewis, the managing director of Contact Advantage, said: “You can’t measure what you don’t capture, so it’s obviously really important to record every piece of information you can.
“This means staff can’t be selective with what they want to capture. Speed has become universally accepted as important, but I think you really have to look at the quality of data too.”
Dealers can aid this process by using an enquiry management system that puts as few barriers in the way as possible.
David Boyce, managing director of enquiryMAX, said no matter the channel used – online, on the phone or face to face – all enquiries should be treated with equal consideration. A lead management system can help dealers with that process.
He said capturing the actual number of enquiries into a business is the only way to assess the true conversion rate.
Boyce said: “EnquiryMAX’s own research shows an 18% increase in sales and a 50% boost to leads captured when a dealer uses a lead management system.”
Jeremy Evans, the managing director of Marketing Delivery, said capturing marketing consent is also crucial when looking to record data.
Marketing Delivery’s research prior to GDPR indicated that dealers were securing this for nearly 90% of enquiries. Since GDPR, Evans said this has varied massively with some dealerships as low as 30%. He said: “Even if a dealer’s data on each lead is comprehensive, it has little value if they are unable to use it.”
2: Identify which leads are the strongest
Not everyone who clicks on a vehicle detail page online is a strong prospect.
Evans said other factors, such as whether a visitor has used a finance calculator or engaged in a live chat, can be more effective indicators of high-quality leads.
Algorithms across digital platforms already have the capability of acting as an additional level of qualification for leads.
Evans said: “Tracking visitors between website visits and across social media platforms can produce more meaningful data about their purchase intent and stage in the buying cycle.”
Lewis said many manufacturer partners have moved on from when they used to dump a lot of unqualified data on dealers: “A lot of what is coming through now is well qualified, as will be the leads from a dealer group that has a contact centre.
“If a lead is qualified, sales executives should be going after them all.”
Boyce agreed that as long as the lead has been properly qualified, it should be followed up to its conclusion.
EnquiryMAX data shows that the strongest leads will be from customers that have already done their research on the specific model they are interested in, with 40% of these people buying on the day and the next 35% within 10 days (the remaining quarter will take more time).
Lewis agreed that ranking the heat level on leads comes down to specifics used in the language within the enquiry. That means it’s more of a manual process when deciding which leads rise to the top of the list.
Lewis said: “The chances are that if a customer is mentioning specifics, they’re probably further along in the buying process.”
Wallis Lavery, CDK Global senior product manager, said personally qualifying the leads is still the only sure-fire way of assessing their strength.
However, dealers can use an enquiry management system that is linked with a DMS to help highlight patterns of repeat enquiries, or assess a customer based on previous relationships with any other area of the business.
3: How to ensure staff follow up leads and log each contact as a prospect
Lavery said dealers have to be consistent in making sure customer engagement is tracked with a structured process.
She said: “Dealers can use a management dashboard in which targets can be set, enquiries tracked, and individual performance issues highlighted.
“The system should also have the intelligence to share leads throughout a team to make maximum use of staff time, whether it’s qualifying leads or closing deals.”
Lewis said dashboards can be particularly useful in helping to prompt the right questions to ask a sales team, because a manager will have visibility on how far along in the car-buying process each prospect is.
Boyce said using customer data can help support transparency and communication across a team, but only if that data can be accessed easily by all those concerned.
He said: “The tools we build are available to all online and on mobile platforms, so access to information is easy. It has to be, otherwise people just won’t use the tools available to them.
“The sales data should be used every day and at every customer interaction. When did the customer enquire? Was the test drive followed up? Did the sales process follow proper procedure? These are important questions that provide more than sales rigour; they build a culture.”
4: Track conversion rates from enquiry to test drive or sale
Lavery believes the only effective way to track conversion rates or the return on investment (ROI) of marketing campaigns is through an integrated reporting suite.
She said: “Reporting systems can segment customer data in multiple ways, enabling customised reports.”
Integrated reporting “can also take certain tasks away from dealer staff by automating customer engagements based on pre-set criteria,” she said.
Lewis said dealers should be able to use their customer relationship management (CRM) system to look at conversion data at a granular level.
Boyce said salespeople should ideally not have more than 25 active prospects to handle at any one time. If the prospect levels are above this, he believes that is when tracking the process for all of them starts to slip.
5: Re-solicit lost leads where the enquiry appears to have gone cold
Revisiting lost leads can be time-consuming for dealers and Lavery said businesses have to find a way to target the ‘warmest’ cold leads to maximise ROI.
She said: “If an enquiry management tool is linked to a database of customer records and engagements, lost leads can be profiled to identify customers nearing the end of finance deals, or with cars soon to reach key
replacement milestones (age / mileage / etc).”
Lewis urged dealers without an in-house contact centre to outsource following up lost leads to a third-party specialist.
He said: “Contacting cold customers is not going to be something sales executives are going to want to do, so it will automatically fall to the bottom of their to-do list.
“The contact centre is going to be focused on contacting cold customers, if they have the marketing permissions to do so.”
Lewis said it was also particularly important on lost leads to pay attention to a customer’s contact preference. If they have ticked the box to say email only, they should not be contacted by phone, even if a dealer’s knowledge tells them that being more direct is likely to get better results.
He said: “You have to engage with the customer on their terms. If they get a call when they have
specifically said they don’t want to be called, you’re already starting on the wrong foot.”
Boyce said the first 10 days after an enquiry are crucial and this is where dealers are likely to close more than three quarters of lost leads.
EnquiryMAX works with a third-party follow-up service and its data shows 33% of customers that are marked as a lapsed opportunity are still in the market for a vehicle when contacted.
Evans said dealers can also use automated car alert stock updates that are directly relevant to their specific model enquiry to act as a ‘silent salesperson’.
He said: “Dealer groups with around 10 locations can expect incremental business of around 25 to 30 sales per month through this kind of automated eCRM campaign.
“These campaigns typically demonstrate the greatest value in recapturing dormant leads, where no contact has been made for two weeks or more.”