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Guest opinion: Time to work every sales lead

David Boyce, managing director of enquiryMAX

Dealers both large and small are seeing pressure on margins and the market is undoubtedly getting tougher after some spectacular years of growth.

In a tightening market, it’s essential to get the basics right. It is an expensive process to bring a customer to the forecourt and too often the opportunity isn’t managed with enough focus.

Dealers need to get back to basics of managing every lead on a daily basis. In a rising market, it is too easy to become complacent in monitoring sales executives’ activities. When we look at the data, there are a significant amount of enquiries without a follow-up date, even in these tough times.

The data also shows online and manufacturer leads increasing year-on-year. However, there is still a big divide in the perception of the value of these enquiries. Often the sales conversion rate from manufacturer leads sits around 15%.

There is plenty of evidence to show customer service and experience is a massive influencer in a consumer's decision making. The little things do matter. Making notes on requirements and personal preferences, as well as promise management, will make a huge difference to sales conversion. 

If a customer returns to a dealership as a bare minimum the sales team should remember their name, partners name and drinks preference.

The tools are available at the touch of a screen. The lead management system that enquiryMAX has put in place is informed by the experience and data of hundreds of dealers. And adhering to the process pays off.

Earning a customer's trust is paramount. Gaining a clear understanding of the buyer’s need and personal circumstances is vital if the sale is to meet FCA guidelines on treating customers fairly. It also helps to ensure the customer gets the car they need.

Get the process right, and the buyer will become an advocate for the business and recommend you to their friends and family. And in a world where the average person has over 300 friends on Facebook, it can be a powerful marketing tool.

It’s vital that sales teams use the tools and processes available to them. The easier a platform is to use for the sales team the more they will use it, and the better the data inputted.

In today’s mobile world, a tablet interface is expected by customers as they can use them in high street stores and restaurants, so if they are buying a £30,000 car or even a £5,000 car, they expect this transaction to be completed electronically.

A flexible system should fit around the dealership’s sales process. It’s advisable not to force a customer to provide contact details at the start, build the rapport first.

All customers must be given a follow-up date, and a next action, so simple diary functionality is key.

It must be easy for the sales team to use and the sales management to track. A simple dashboard for managers allows them to track opportunities to do business and know what is happening in their business every day.

And finally, an excellent reporting suite will allow the dealer to track customers, monitor marketing measures and track sales. It should tie in an easy to use email and SMS tool to make it easy to contact customers. It should also integrate with a host of DMS, OEM systems and a host of other tools to make a seamless integration.

We recently reported our dealers had seen a leap in sales efficiency with a 41% increase in the number of transactions closed on the first enquiry.

This means dealerships need to be particularly good at following up leads that don’t buy on the first visit, as they will probably buy somewhere else very quickly.

Our stats show that 78% of all orders come within ten days of the enquiry first being logged. If you have customers that haven’t been followed up for 12 days, then you have almost certainly lost that customer.

Dealers know the competition is fierce and understand the power of data to optimise the sales process.

Author: David Boyce, managing director of enquiryMAX

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