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IT Insight: Lead management

Comprehensive access to research information about cars, whether via magazines, direct mail, TV or, increasingly, the internet, means customers are much closer than ever before to making a purchase decision when they enter the dealership.

As a result, lead management and prospecting techniques are crucial if a dealer is going to pick up more sales from these primed customers. And that’s where IT systems can help.

According to research by eGoodManners, 85% of those who visit a showroom buy a car shortly afterwards: 21% buy from the first dealership they visited, 4% buy the same car from a different dealership, and 60% buy a rival product from a different franchise.

David Boyce, sales director at eGoodManners, says: “We find that most people entering dealerships are clued up and have done research. We’re convinced that every prospect is an opportunity to do business.

“The biggest challenge is to make sure staff enter the customer data and prospect.

Ultimately, the more data collection that is done, the greater the opportunity for sales.”

Simon Wardle, UK general manager, ADP Dealer Services, adds: “Motorists are now subject to an increased level of direct marketing communications.

This means it’s even harder for dealers to differentiate themselves.

“Therefore, using the up-to-date customer information to ensure your message is for the right person, at the right time with the right offer, is more important than ever.”

This will also benefit the aftersales department, which has seen less frequent visits from customers in recent years.

Longer service intervals and more reliable cars mean less contact time and, as the sector becomes tougher, it’s more essential than ever that when the customer does come in, every opportunity is taken to ensure the relationship isn’t lost.

Databases must be kept up to date

Customer information changes rapidly, and even companies which update their database every quarter may have a substantial number of inaccuracies in their information, according to a recent study by Experian.

This found 5% of customers on dealers’ databases no longer owned the vehicle, 6% had changed address and 14% contained incorrect information. Furthermore, 8% were duplicates and 1% had died.

Some potential leads were unlikely to be receptive to aggressive marketing – 45% had registered with Telephone Preference Service (TPS) and 11% with Mailing Preference Service.

Targeting any of these customers is unlikely to result in a sale, and could affect a valuable relationship.

Kirk Fletcher, managing director of Experian’s Automotive division, says: “Every day in the UK 18,000 people move house, 1,600 people die and more than 20,000 used cars change hands.

These factors can have a huge impact on the accuracy, as well as the effectiveness and cost of marketing campaigns, not to mention compromising reputation in the face of the customer.”

Andy Wilson, of Ebbon-Dacs, agrees: “CRM is a very generic term. An ideal system will add value in the initial sale, a sale from follow-up and CSI. It will have inbuilt protocols to ensure data is kept well maintained.”

  • Read this story in full in the 22 August issue of AM. To subscribe to AM magazine click here or call 01733 468659.
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