Auto Dealers: 3 Simple Ways to Turn Invisible Leads into Customers

Myth: Most Inbound Calls Convert to Sales Opportunities

A year-long study conducted by IHS Automotive recently revealed that 84% of inbound calls to 540 dealerships nationwide didn’t convert to sales. So jumping to the conclusion that your inbound calls are not your best source of customers isn’t crazy. Or is it?

If you think about it a bit more, customers never call your dealership if they don’t want to buy a car (notwithstanding calls to your service, finance and other departments). They will eventually make a purchase, either from you, or from one of your competitors. But, if they don’t have a good experience on their first call, there is a high chance that they’ll be calling the dealer down the street when they hang up. That’s why Car Research XRM calls them “invisible leads.” More about this later.

Invisible leads are great sales opportunities. If they’re calling you, they’re either ready to buy or getting close. Even more important than a single sale, these leads should be considered as the potential start of a long-term – and lucrative – relationship.

Truth: Inbound Calls Are Diamonds in the Rough That Need to Be Uncovered

Inbound calls are actually high-quality opportunities, but amazingly, most dealerships don’t treat them as such. Let’s look at just one example of how you can benefit from improving your sales conversion rates on inbound calls. 

  • Say your dealership receives 100 inbound calls per day on average. Of these, only 16 are converted to sales. That means 84% of your calls are not being converted to sales, and you’re losing 84 sales opportunities a day.
  • The aforementioned study from IHS Automotive predicts that, by itself, managing inbound calls better can result in a 33% improvement in sales conversion. Doing the math based on above, with better management of inbound calls, you could gain five sales (16 sales x 33%) per day.
  • Extrapolating on this further, an increase of five sales per day results in an increase of 1,825 sales per year which equals an extra 114 days of sales (at the rate of 16 sales per day).
  • If the profit of each sale is $300, that’s a gain of more than $500K in profit per year. For the average dealer, that’s a 50% improvement in profit annually.

Are there any other small changes you are going to make to your sales team that could offer an extra $500K per year?

Some may argue that improving other channels, such as email, will yield similar results. However, inbound phone calls still outpace email leads 4-to-1, so the impact of improving inbound call management is still far more significant.

If you just realized you may be missing hundreds of invisible leads, don’t worry! We have three solid suggestions on how to capture them and super-charge your sales pipeline by two to three times its size.

1 Capture Every Call

Are you missing out on 50-75% of your potential leads? CAR Research XRM certainly thinks you are. Their research shows that only 25% of leads make it into the dealership CRM at all. This is even worse than the overall average for CRM implementations across all industries. Only 43% of phone leads get logged into any CRM. This is where we get the term “invisible leads.”

Invisible leads come in the door or over the phone and then disappear. They will never be followed up on and never closed. It’s a complete loss for your organization. The impact is even greater because these leads are already pre-qualified. They have intent to buy and are interested specifically in your brands. These are high-quality leads.

The key problem here is that the BDC and sales team don’t capture every lead into your CRM system. If the calls aren’t logged, they aren’t followed up on. The first step then is to make sure every call that comes into your dealership is automatically logged into the CRM system. Automating this process ensures that 100% of your phone leads are logged into the system and gives you more at-bats. 

Technologies such as CRMLink from Vertical Communications, and various auto dealer CRMs (ELEAD1One, DealerSocket, etc.) can make this simple and seamless. Each and every call can be logged with all of the key details (time, participants, duration, etc.) entered into activity records. Your team can even be prompted to enter more information using screen pop technology that puts the CRM entry on their screen when they answer the call.

2 Follow Up on Abandoned Calls

What happens when a customer calls after normal business hours? Is your BDC operating 24/7? Or does the call end up in a voice mail box? For most dealerships it’s the latter. The problem is that voice mail is becoming less and less convenient for the newest generation of car buyers. As the New York Times reports, they simply won’t leave a message. This leads to a number of prospects who called in, but just hung up. If you have no process for identifying those callers and following up, then these callers become another type of invisible lead.

It’s still possible to capture this type of invisible lead using quality call records from your phone system. Assign your BDC to review the call records and call those invisible leads back. This becomes a simple way to add potential leads back into your pipeline with very little effort.

3 Improve Call Coverage with Mobility

Another kind of invisible lead is the prospect who follows up, but can’t connect to the sales team. Making sure that your sales team can always take a customer’s call is critical for completing the sale.

The problem is that your team is always on the move. How many of your sales team is sitting at their desk right now? They are on the lot, talking with other departments, or patrolling the showroom floor, waiting for walk-ins. If they are not sitting at the phone, they can’t take the call.

The good news is that your team already has a tool to help with this. Every one of them has a smartphone in their pocket. On a basic level, calls can be forwarded to their mobile phone, so they can take an incoming call from a customer or prospect wherever they are. Even better are advanced communications apps like Vertical’s ViewPoint Mobile that can incorporate personal mobile devices into your dealership’s communications system, so you can monitor, record and log every call to and from all your employees. 

The results: your sales and other teams (finance, service, etc.) become more reachable and available, and invisible leads become more visible (and profitable). 

Driving It All Home

Finding these “invisible leads” is the simplest way to super-charge your sales pipeline, because they are leads that want to speak to you (after all, they called you, right?). It’s just a simple matter of picking the right communications system and putting processes in place to take advantage of these opportunities and ensure these calls are handled properly.