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Improving sales conversion ratios

Neil Smith

Sales challenges are often a combination of internal and external factors; one of the biggest challenges being, no doubt, how to successfully and consistently increase conversion to sale.

On average Imperial Cars convert around 45% of potential buyers coming through the door. Regardless of dealership’s shape and size, the question is: what is the reason the others are not buying? Is it down to the way the vehicle is prepared? Is it rapport building? Is it unforeseen problems with the car? Is it down to price?

With so many variables to consider, the challenge lies in identifying what will improve conversion rate and what changes will generate positive outcomes, as every percentage point increase is likely to make a considerable difference to the bottom line.

Below we’ve highlighted three key areas that, if implemented and managed correctly, could, in our opinion, contribute to significantly increase conversion to sale.

Efficient lead response management

Numerous researches over the years have highlighted the importance of promptly replying to customer enquiries and how speed of response can significantly influence conversion to sale. Recent statistics seem to indicate that less than 70% of enquiries are responded to, with lead response time often exceeding the recommended hour limit.

Often one of the reasons is that the sales team, tasked with picking up calls and email enquiries, are busy with other customers. What to do to make sure enquiries are still replied to?

A solution could be to centralise enquiry handling by creating a dedicated in-house support centre. For Imperial Cars, this move resulted in all phone calls and live chat dealt with immediately, as well as 99% of email enquiries being replied to within the first 15 minutes. 

Selling online

We also believe there is an appetite for a far more accelerated process where customers can deal from the comfort of their own home. That’s why we’ve recently introduced the Click, Call, Collect service, where we take care of negotiation, deal, part exchange valuation with guaranteed valuation, finance proposal and acceptance - online and over the phone.

This means the customer only needs to show up with their part exchange, skip the sales element of the process, go straight to the vehicle handover area to test drive the car, sign the paperwork and drive away.

Click, Call, Collect currently accounts for 8-10% of group sales a month, and 98% of people coming in on that basis drive away in that car. This equals to 100-120 vehicles per month, increasing from 30-40 just two years ago. Overall, the increase registered in this segment is higher than the overall increase in sales.

Blending online and offline

A different approach to sales, nowadays, should put a real effort into blending online and offline journey. From an online point of view, it’s imperative the website gives customers every piece of information they would want about a vehicle. There shouldn’t be any need to pick up the phone - the website should cover every question customers could ever have.

From an offline point of view, historic customer data on equiries, car searches and website journey should be used by sales executives to skip parts of the journey the customer has already conducted online. Why going through consideration phase again if we already know the customer has done the research and has ended up enquiring on a specific vehicle?

Author: Neil Smith, operations director, Imperial Car Supermarkets

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  • AndyOram - 12/07/2018 10:21

    Great piece on the current market place and how to improve the ratios, I especially liked your bit about Efficient lead response management, and this maybe something we can help with at, I would welcome a chance to show you how!