RIP to the Perfect Plan: Adapt Your Processes to Close More Leads 

by Matt Trudell

About Matt: After running high-performing Internet Sales departments for more than a decade, Matt Trudell brought his skills to the Maritz team in 2016 and has seen superb success as a Performance Manager and coach to automotive dealerships. His clients have gained valuable insights into their own operations, allowing them to improve their customer experience, lower their response times, set more appointments and convert more leads into sales.

Matt understands the market is competitive and that response time is important. However, dealers need to focus on the quality of the content they send to prospective customers, not just when they send it. This brief article summarizes his feelings on what dealers should prioritize in addition to quick responses.

The Mystery of the Underperforming BDC 

Do you ever look at your CRM and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Why are close rates not meeting expectations? 
  • Why aren’t there more appointments for the weekend?  
  • What’s causing all those emails from customers saying they bought somewhere else? 

Who’s at fault here? The BDC, the Internet Manager, the sales team, or management? 

Wherever or whomever it’s coming from, the real fault here is usually an outdated approach and philosophy to handling leads. 

Many people handling leads at dealerships in this space are strong closers and excel in face-to-face situations but don’t understand how to translate their skills to Internet success. 

You might hear them emphasize things like the following: 

  • Don’t give them pricing. (“They’re just going to shop us!”) 
  • They must prove their value before we treat them as valuable. (“They’re not serious.” “That’s a mystery shop, don’t worry about it.”) 
  • There’s no need to answer their questions and worry about good customer service.  (“Just get them in the door.”)

(And, yes, these attitudes persist in the business even as we reach the end of 2022.) 

The Perfect Plan 

Picture the “Perfect Plan” as designed by one of those with outdated ideas about internet leads.  

1. Lead is submitted – A lead on a high demand New vehicle arrives from your website. The customer has questions about towing capacity and payment options.

2. Acknowledgement of lead is sent within 10 mins – The BDC recognizes the lead and does whatever is necessary to “Stop the clock.”  A BDC agent messages the appropriate manager about the lead. The manager assesses the lead and assigns the right salesperson. 

3. Customer receives an email from the salesperson with 24 hours – The salesperson sets an appointment with the customer. 

4. Customer shows up and purchases the vehicle of their dreams 

5. Profit 

“The Best Laid Plans…” 

The process above sounds great, but here’s how that typically plays out, in my experience. 

1. Lead is submitted – Customer’s VOI and questions is sent to the manager. The manager – who doesn’t use the CRM – misses the email as they’re focused on appraising trades, desking deals, putting out fires, and working the customers in the showroom. No salesperson gets assigned. 

2. First 24 hours go by without salesperson reaching out 

3. Lead sits untouched in the CRM for 3 or 4 more days – Someone in the BDC is eventually assigned a follow up task. 

4. Salesperson finally emails customer with generic response – Priority is on reaching out fast, not reading the lead or responding to the question. Their main concern is getting to this lead quickly so they don’t get in trouble. 

5. Customer is frustrated – Salesperson hasn’t answered their question – whether the salesperson is trying to get management involved or is just neglectful, the end result is that you’ve already lost the customer. Customer has already reached out to someone else. 

6. Customer purchases elsewhere 

Sounds like a nightmare, right? And that’s just one lead at a dealership that might expect the sales manager to follow up with 50 – 200 high priority leads.  

Set Yourself Up for Success 

Don’t set your team up to fail. It may be time to take a look at your department and voice some concerns and changes that could better set your team up for success. 

1. Make goal- and attitude-alignment a priority. 

Make sure everyone who touches an Internet lead agrees on goals and priorities and brings the appropriate attitude to the situation. Don’t let people make excuses when what they do doesn’t align with the goal.  

2. Adapt “The Plan” to work for your internet sales department and your leads. 

That means removing any parts of the process that don’t matter to the overall goal and create an issue or bottlenecks the rest of the steps. 

Prioritize lead assignments to lead managers who communicate professionally and leverage the CRM appropriately. 

This may mean the sales manager can’t be involved in every lead – that’s fine, they have a million other tasks on their plate. Management should understand that they’re a resource in the big picture but don’t need to be involved with every lead.  

3. Invest in your lead managers and give them the training and resources they need to be effective at their jobs.

Freeing up your lead managers to do their job is half the battle. But giving them the training and resources to do their jobs effectively is the critical second half. 

Ready to take the lead management at your dealership to the next level? Ready to invest in the members of your staff that most need your support? Empower your staff and close more sales by checking out our car sales and CRM training for automotive dealerships