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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lead Response Times are Important

A recent shopping experience prompted me to write about lead response times, and you can probably guess why. I'm in the market for a boat, and I'm busy during the day so my shopping time is after the boat dealer is already closed. I recently found 3 boats at the same dealership which fit my needs as well as my budget.

I submitted a lead for 2 boats through the dealer's website (which was less than professional, but more on that later). I also submitted a lead for a 3rd boat through a 3rd party classified site. Here we are, more than 48 hours later and I still have not received a response from the dealer on either of the leads. Needless to say, I'm definitely not purchasing a boat from this seller.

I've heard some dealers say that web leads are mostly garbage and that serious shoppers will call. True, sometimes a phone up will be a more serious buyer, but that doesn't mean that all online lead submissions are worthless. Here I am with cash in hand, interested in purchasing inventory from the seller, and they don't feel the need to respond to me because of how I contacted them. A dealer is in business for one primary reason: to sell units. Why on earth would I plunk down thousands of dollars with a particular dealer if they aren't even responsive when I (among others) am the reason for their business being in existence? If they can't even be responsive to a sales lead, how would they be responsive to needs after the sale? A horrible website and no response to my inquiries adds up to an unprofessional dealer in my book.

Dealers should listen up. If you're not treating online leads as being important, you're literally throwing away money. Of course everybody would like to get emails with nothing but serious shoppers with cash in hand. You don't expect this from your walk-in traffic or phone ups, so why expect it from web leads? All lead sources are going to have good leads and bad leads. If you think one lead source produces leads that aren't worth your time, maybe you're showing some qualified buyers that you're not worth theirs.

Our Higher Turnover car dealers are trained on this from the moment they sign up with us. If someone submits a lead through their website, treat them as a valid lead, but more importantly, respond to them in a timely manner. Once they submit a lead on your site, chances are good that they move on to the competitor's site to continue shopping. We enable our dealers to receive SMS (text) messages the moment a new lead comes in. Using a service like this makes our dealers look more professional and attentive in dealing with customers, and that's what shoppers want when they're getting ready to spend thousands of dollars.