Effective lead management in the digital age
Written by: GForces
In this highly connected digital age, there are more ways than ever for car buyers to become a ‘lead’ and the undeniable fact is that this has been driven by the web. But what on earth can a mid-sized dealer group do with over 5,000 leads* created in an average month?
Five thousand leads. That’s 167 per day. Over 20 per working hour – or one every three minutes. Nice to have, but the fact is that the vast majority of these leads will slip away unaddressed. It’s not a criticism as many of these leads can’t exactly be considered ‘strong’ and in a world where disparate digital systems still don’t tie into one another, managing leads can be like pushing mud up a hill.
So what constitutes a ‘strong’ lead? A potential customer’s name, email address, phone number, existing vehicle and its value – and how interested they really are in making a purchase?
The benefits to dealers of providing online valuations to potential buyers are obvious. Most consumers will only use them if they intend to change their current vehicle. All the most relevant information is willingly offered up by the consumer for dealers to qualify a lead and potentially progress a sale. In our experience, some users of NetDirector CAP Valuations are consistently converting over 30% of valuations to sales, not to mention gathering swathes of useful data.
However, there is a massive difference between lead generation and lead handing. Systems are essentially redundant if:
- They don’t integrate effectively with other dealership software
- The people handling digital tools cannot use them correctly
- Digital enquiry management is disjointed
We once wrote a piece about ‘islands of information’ within the automotive retail industry. Now several years down the line these islands remain, but bridges are being built. For example, CAP Valuations can sit on any dealer website, regardless of provider, generating leads and enhancing consumer experience. In the near future, the benefits of integration between software providers will be better understood and the digital walls will gradually be taken down.
The frustrations of car sellers is understandable; you’re handling phone calls, emails, live chats and web forms – not to mention the couple sitting in front of you. Where digital leads remain less tangible, the person on the end of the phone or who has just walked in presents an obvious opportunity.
However, those businesses currently taking advantage of strong lead generation are reshaping the existing model. Process and training have evolved so when you visit a BMW or Mini dealership, you don’t immediately meet a Sales Executive – instead an iPad-wielding ‘Genius’ will help you. This model of consultative selling will migrate online to provide a personal approach for the increasing number of customers whose buying journeys are web-orientated. This has started to happen already.
Digital lead management
Online lead management software has come on leaps and bounds since GForces first launched NetDirector LeadBeast back in 2010. The most recent versions offer more insight into the sources of leads than ever, creating knowledge to make marketing more efficient. What tracking can’t tell you is how these leads are being managed.
Next-generation web solutions will have communication at their core, adding all-important lead management to existing lead generation solutions. Joined-up systems that track where an enquiry came from (e.g. CAP Valuations, web form, email, call, brochure download etc.) by tying directly into a dealer’s biggest single lead generator – their website – will emerge. No longer will the consumer’s journey be a game of snakes and ladders in which they find themselves back to square one each time they make contact; instead, enquiry management will create a joined-up consumer experience.
No two customer buying journeys are the same so the trick will be in treating every single one as equally unique and valuable. There are a vast number of elements that need to be pulled together to create a buying experience that meets expectations, from data to human attitudes and software integrations. Effective lead management in the digital age is undeniably more complex than ever, but the systems and processes are either in place already or well on their way.
*Data for a four franchise Top 200 group in the south of England, average over Q4 2014.
Tim Smith, Group Strategy Director at GForces
Tim has been working in the technology sector for his entire career, becoming Commercial Director at GForces in 2005. Now Group Strategy Director, he is responsible for defining GForces’ company strategy, marketing activities and product and service innovation. Tim has helped shape GForces to become the prominent provider of digital solutions to the Top 200 retailers and numerous manufacturers in the UK and abroad.
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