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Importance of a Fast Lead Response in the Automotive Industry

In an industry where "The first to engage wins" it is vital to ensure customers are engaging with your dealership efficiently. It is more than being “fast,” it is also being responsive, alert, and conversational that will generate an appointment that leads to the sale.

The Importance of Speed and Personal Engagement with Every Lead

With online sales taking over the marketplace, car dealers are focusing their resources on lead generation, chat/SMS functionality, and marketing to ensure they get the next customer. The global pandemic has seen the majority transition to one-click delivery and online retailing, and we have seen a dramatic increase in online engagement. 

The growing demand for cars and supply chain disruptions has meant dealerships are flocking to the digital space for assistance, and online communication is a driving force in connecting customers with the right car at the right dealership.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is when visitors to your dealership website fill in inquiry forms, type messages in chats, or send an email with their questions. Visitors are offering their details up for dealerships to respond to. Either immediately with a live chat or SMS function or by calling up if they leave their phone number. It is vital to connect with these consumers quickly and with a well-developed response.

Companies can track the inquiries and see if it generates a sale with measurables to understand how response time turns into sales, the quality of the conversations, and the information your dealership network is providing to its customers. 

How To Respond Quickly to Customers

If a customer is not responded to quickly, they may turn elsewhere for their next car. This is why Collaborative Intelligence is the new approach for lead generation for dealerships. Using a mix of AI and live agents is the functionality that works best. After all, we are social beings and respond well when interacting with actual humans. The AI provides the data and the brute force. However, it is the people who provide the relationship and the true engagement.

To get the initial inquiry answered, many dealerships are responding immediately with an AI assistant. While this ensures the customer is being responded to immediately, there are many questions that cannot be answered with AI alone, and the customer is left looking for alternate means to communicate with the dealership. 

Why it is Important

Speed to Lead is an old adage used for responding to leads online. Dealerships utilize either BDCs (best case) or salespeople to respond to forms, chats, and email requests. The time it takes to respond is a major factor in what makes or breaks a deal. And with BDCs being difficult to staff and maintain, and salespeople with a split focus on virtual leads vs. an up in the showroom, this could potentially lead to a poor experience for the customer. 

Example: When a customer visits a dealership in person, a salesperson or receptionist will respond to visitors and any dialogue exchange quickly. This should be transferred to online interactions too.

A study in the UK proved that the most successful dealership responded in just over 1 minute. 10% of conversations led to test drives, and 84% of those resulted in sales. Any slower and the conversion rates dropped to 6% for test drives and 82% of test drives producing sales. The study by iTrackLEADS also proved around 78% of sales were handed to dealerships that responded quickest.

Taking the Lead Further

Once online forms are filled in, this lead that has been generated needs to be taken and responded to quickly - as customers could be early in their new car buying process. 

Dealerships need staff allocated in other aspects of the business to handle live leads that convert into sales. This is why companies such as Better Car People are working on behalf of dealerships to take the lead on 24/7 with digital engagement.

Offering guidance, answering calls, and taking care of potential customers early in the process removes the number of resources a car dealership needs in this space. The follow-up process is a refined strategy that has been worked on tirelessly for optimizing lead turnaround times.

Better Car People works with OEMs and their dealership networks and is a centralized solution for franchises that are spread across the US. After all, upwards of 45% of leads can arrive when your business is not open. This can be from customers logging in online in the evenings, after work, and filling in inquiry forms for their next vehicle. The person inquiring after the second shift of work is just as important as someone who works a 9-5.

Surprisingly, Phone Calls are Still Important

With human interaction and a live voice, customers feel a sense of personal engagement that can turn a lead into further inquiries and sales. Studies have shown that calling an online lead can be 30% faster at converting than an email-only response, with a 28% improvement in retention rate over online retention rates.

Taking Customers’ Preferences into Account

With any lead generation, a personalized response is what customers feel most connected with. This may involve offering a test drive delivery to their home address instead of asking them to come into a dealership. Another is to follow up via email or phone to see how their search is going and if they have any further questions. How about only contacting them outside of working hours via text, email, or phone? These can all be factors that lead to turning around that fast lead response.

Conclusion

The rise of online sales and marketing is evident in the Automotive space. Dealers are utilizing this to produce excellent content, branding, and detailed relevant information for their customer's next car purchase. However, lead generation is still lagging for some. Studies have proven a quick response for a new lead can be the difference that brings the customer on-lot and leads to more potential purchases.

New solutions are being developed for this; Better Car People is one example of a lead generation handling process that offers personalized interactions in ways that suit your dealership culture. No matter the scale of your dealership network, contact us today for the complete solution for managing lead generation. Our focus is on customer engagement on behalf of your dealership.

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