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How to make sure staff follow up leads

Posted by Ashley Karr on January 27, 2020

In an ideal world, dealers would never be short of sales leads and they’d all be from buyers chomping at the bit to hand over their cash. The reality is often different. We’ve discussed ways of increasing your number of leads, but as dealers know, quantity doesn’t always equal quality, and you can find yourself inundated with dead-end duds. Or leads might just be in short supply.

It’s crucial that sales executives follow up on leads—especially the best quality ones. Even the most successful dealer groups admit that getting sales staff to diligently chase down leads is not the easiest of tasks, and they need cast-iron processes to make sure it happens. Here are some of the best ways to make sure your staff follows up.

Track and trace digital leads

The beauty of electronic leads—be they via email, live chat, social media, or otherwise—is that they’re easy to track and there is no shortage of software designed to do just that. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are especially adept at capturing data and make the process of doing so more transparent.

It’s also possible to put the onus of supplying information squarely on the customer, effectively negating the sales executive’s need to collect it. If a customer is willing to share their details with a person, then they’ll likely be willing to do the same online. Consider setting up an automatic reply to email and online chat enquiries, complete with a form that allows the customer to enter in their details and a brief message about what they’re interested in.

When customers fill it in, you end up with a full suite of information without having to rely on showroom staff to get in touch with them. The responses can then be logged in your dealer management system as hot leads. Yes, they still need pursuing, but the point is that you’ve got all of the customer’s details from the beginning, and you’ve simultaneously freed up staff from the initial duty of gathering core information.

Be realistic and honest with staff

Although it can be frustrating if sales executives fail to chase up leads, coming down hard on employees is rarely the way to get the best out of them. Clear communication is a cornerstone of good management, and top dealers have told us that simply having an honest conversation with staff and explaining why chasing leads is so critical goes an incredibly long way. If they understand what’s at stake, they’ll be more receptive to best practice.

Not every lead is going to convert to a sale and having an abundance of them doesn’t necessarily equal profit. Expecting staff to process hundreds of leads per month—even the obvious dead ends—isn’t likely to make for a happy workforce. A common-sense approach, such as capping the number of responses at a realistic figure and encouraging staff to focus on the most relevant ones, is almost certain to yield better results.

Play the long game

There’s a temptation for sales staff to focus on leads for a few days, then discard them if the customer hasn’t taken the bait. But successful dealers have told us they often see more conversions of leads they’ve followed for a month than those they’ve chased for less than a week. Customers often show an initial flicker of interest, then carry on with their online research. But that doesn’t mean they won’t come back to a car they’ve previously considered, so don’t be quick to write them off.

It’s worth having a process and schedule in place, to encourage sales staff to follow up slow-burn leads and training them accordingly. Unless the customer makes it clear they no longer want to be contacted, there’s no harm in dropping them a line later on. It can be very much in the dealership’s interest to do so.

Topics: dealer success, leads