Response revs up revenue

Bob McCann, ARIOnline prospects expect immediate access to accurate and helpful information designed to eliminate options – i.e., choose what they perceive as the right product and dealership for them. In this context, the first expectation is a prompt, relevant response. If you don’t jump on that lead, another dealer – often located less than a few clicks away on the Internet – certainly will.

Despite the competition, you stand a very good chance to be noticed and chosen. In fact, ARI’s latest Mystery Shop results reveal that 40 percent of leads still go unanswered, so get the upper hand and you will convert more leads into sales over time.

Studies have shown that the sales conversion rate drops significantly after two hours. The most successful marine dealers begin their outreach within 30 to 60 minutes of receiving a lead. If you’re just getting started on improving response time, set a Web lead response goal of 60 minutes on average, and implement a plan of action to reduce that number to 30 and under over time.

Reducing response time depends on two factors – how fast the lead is assigned and how fast the salesperson responds to it. Someone at your dealership should take ownership of the lead assignment process. Though most dealerships rotate lead assignment among sales team members, the most efficient way to process online leads is to assign them to the salesperson who is available immediately, just like you would a walk-in or a phone lead. Many dealerships start by assigning leads to managers. Unfortunately, managers are not always available which could slow down the process of assigning leads quickly. That said, who better than the receptionist to forward a new, incoming lead so that a salesperson can respond promptly?

With the right lead management solution in place, you can take this best practice a step further and make the receptionist accountable for all online leads. If a lead is not being processed in a timely manner, your receptionist should have the authority to either motivate the salesperson to handle it promptly, or to reassign the lead to another team member who can attend to it immediately. Most dealers use this process when prospects walk in or call the dealership, so why not apply the same best practice for online leads?

One of the benefits of a proven lead management platform is that assignment rules can be pre-determined and automatically managed for you. However, all leads should still be monitored closely because assigning a lead does not mean that it will be taken care of promptly. What if the salesperson is out of the office or in a meeting with a customer?

Another way to further reduce response time is to reply using pre-written, branded emails that you can quickly customize to respond to an online inquiry in a couple of clicks. This way, you can juggle your many day-to-day responsibilities on the floor without missing out on the many Web-generated sales opportunities in your Inbox.

Bob McCann is Director of Education at ARI, a leading provider of technology-enabled business solutions for dealers, distributors and manufacturers in the marine, RV, powersports and outdoor power equipment industries. Products and services include eCommerce-enabled websites, lead generation, lead management, Search Engine Optimization, Search Engine Marketing, and eCatalogs (parts, garments, and accessories).

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