Leads: New Value, Different Strategy

If your dealership has a list named “forever changed by Covid-19”, go ahead and add Leads to it. For years, we watched the number of leads decline as shoppers did whatever they could to avoid the inevitable sales attack they’ve become used to in automotive. When Covid-19 hit, the game changed. Dealerships upped their online retailing game, creating new opportunities for consumers to raise their hand and start a conversation.

It is critical to look at what happens with your sales team once a lead is submitted. There is a temptation for dealers to see the number of leads increasing and assume that by applying the same sales tactics, they’ll see more conversions. The trouble is, consumers don’t want to be sold, they want to start a conversation and that means dealers using old sales tactics are missing the boat.

So, where do you start? Here are three steps you can take to equip your sales team.

Shift the paradigm to “Starting a conversation”

Shape your team’s Mentality
Let’s face it, most dealership are not known for putting the consumer first. Recently there has been a shift in automotive geared towards experience, but unfortunately, we are pushing up against decades of overselling and aggressive salespeople. In order to win today, we must help sales teams think first about establishing a connection versus pressuring immediately for a sale. A shopper who submits a lead, sees it as an opportunity to start a conversation. It’s up to us to remind our teams every day, a lead is an invitation to start a conversation. For salespeople to get their desired result, they must start switch the paradigm.

Redefine their goals
People do what is measured and rewarded. To have a team adopt a paradigm shift, it must come with corresponding goals. Creating goals that hold salespeople accountable to how quickly and how conversationally they engage leads will help your team change their mentality.

Help your team build new habits
Create talk tracks around each type of lead you are receiving. These talk tracks need to be centered around the customer’s experience. Once you have created the talk tracks and have shared them with your team, it’s time to practice. Role-play these conversations with your team to accelerate buy-in and create familiarity with what is likely a brand-new approach to each customer.

Follow the lead’s lead

Pay attention to communication Channel:
Gone are the days where you engage every lead with a phone call. If a shopper contacts you via email, they expect an email back. When a customer sends in a chat on your website, they don’t immediately want you to ask for their phone number, they want the information they are requesting to be answered within their chat conversation. Your dealership is taking the steps to meet the shoppers where they are. Now, maximize this new technology to engage shoppers in a way that leads to a sale, service visits and a long-term relationship.

Pick up the conversation THEY start:
Digital retailing tools create new reasons for potential customers to fill out a lead form. It is no longer likely for every lead to stem from a VDP page with someone ready to book an appointment to take a test drive. Your team must be prepared to pay attention to why a shopper reached out and match your conversation to the shopper. A great place to start is to audit every different way a shopper can submit a lead and provide strategies for your team on how to cater the conversation based on their entry point into your CRM.

Help your team “think like a shopper”

Create a non-automotive example that allows your team to think like the consumer.
It’s important to talk in terms your team will understand. Because they are in automotive, they don’t buy cars like everyone else. Utilize another buying experience to drive home your point for customer experience. Here’s an example: if you’re casually shopping for a new house and email a realtor for more information about a specific property and then they hound you with phone calls talking about the deal they could make you, are you likely to purchase through that realtor? No, you were just looking for moreinformation and instead of helping you and understanding your needs, the realtor just pushes for the sale. It can work if they happen to guess at my budget and give me a good deal, but if they emailed me back with information and then asked about my specific needs, I’m much more likely to engage. If my experience is tailored to needs, I’ll buy from them again in the future.

Be Intentional with your Customer Experience
Shoppers want a dealership that will meet them where they are. Creating experiences and connecting with shoppers will have long-term effects on your sales. We are looking for lasting relationships, not quick sales. Understanding this principle is the key to unlocking your market’s potential. In fact, 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience1. Want to see your profits go up? Spend more time understanding the needs of your customer and create an experience that will make them want to come back.

I recently spoke with a dealer gaining market share and growing their gross profit. He attributes his success to a paradigm shift, changing how his team communicates with customers. The team now prioritizes making customers feel like his team is there for them, willing to bend over backwards to meet their needs.

Let’s be honest, the game was already changing before the events of 2020, the difference is, now, your dealership must embrace that consumers expect something new and their money goes where those expectations are met. Set your team up for success by implementing a new mentality about leads. Meet the consumer where they are and you’ll see the sales roll in.

1. https://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/customer-experience-key-to-consumer-loyalty-02248386

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