Are 25% of Your Showroom Customers Being Ignored?


By Josh Vajda

What would hap­pen if four cus­tomers walked into your deal­er­ship but only three sales­peo­ple were avail­able to help? Would the fourth cus­tomer be ignored and told to come back anoth­er time? Or would a man­ag­er, or some­one else, step in to help? One thing’s for sure: if nobody stepped in to help, you would lose a poten­tial sale. And if this hap­pened repeat­ed­ly, well, I wouldn’t want to be in that sales meet­ing.

Of course, you’re prob­a­bly think­ing that the like­li­hood of this hap­pen­ing in your deal­er­ship is slim. Yet it does hap­pen in most deal­er­ships every day. The only dif­fer­ence is the cus­tomers are cur­rent­ly Inter­net leads in your CRM and not in your show­room.

Not the same, you insist? Think again.

The results of Pied Piper’s  2012 Prospect Sat­is­fac­tion Index (PSI) study indi­cates that near­ly 25%, or 1 in 4 cus­tomers, who sub­mit Inter­net leads are not con­tact­ed by the deal­er­ship with­in 24 hours. Anoth­er 16% of inquiries received only a sim­ple auto­mat­ed response, fol­lowed up by a per­son­al e-mail from a sales­per­son.

The best-per­form­ing brands in the Pied Piper study were Lexus, Infini­ti and Acu­ra. Accord­ing to Pied Piper CEO Fran O’Hagan, these brands per­formed the best because they have process­es in place to ensure that Inter­net leads are han­dled prop­er­ly.

I’m bet­ting that, if I asked you if your deal­er­ship had a doc­u­ment­ed Inter­net sales process, you would say “Yes, absolute­ly.” Yet the study proves that these process­es are not always being fol­lowed. Sales Man­agers can see when a sales­per­son drops a cus­tomer on the lot with­out a turn over, or skips from the “Meet and Greet” to the “Write Up” with­out stop­ping to build rap­port or land the cus­tomer in the right vehi­cle. It’s a lit­tle harder—but not much—to see what steps are and are not being fol­lowed in your Inter­net process.

If you want to improve your sales per­for­mance, improve your Inter­net lead response with the fol­low­ing steps:

1.  Ensure your writ­ten process­es are being fol­lowed. Hold sales­peo­ple and man­agers account­able for the e-mails, phone calls and fol­low up required to turn Inter­net leads into show­room vis­its. Reg­u­lar meet­ings with the man­ag­er are the best way to accom­plish this.

2. Turn over every lead, just as you would a show­room cus­tomer. Don’t let sales­peo­ple close out Inter­net leads in the CRM. Require that a man­ag­er review each lead and then close it out for the sales­per­son. Have the man­ag­er send out an e-mail to every lead that is closed out ask­ing about their expe­ri­ence and ask­ing them why they didn’t buy. You might be very sur­prised at how many cus­tomers will say they were nev­er con­tact­ed.

3. Con­sid­er a tech­nol­o­gy like an auto­mat­ed vir­tu­al assis­tant that can engage and re-engage a large vol­ume of Inter­net leads. The assis­tant pass­es hot leads to the sales­peo­ple so they can focus on phone calls and set­ting appoint­ments with in-mar­ket cus­tomers.

Josh Vaj­da, Direc­tor of Inside Sales, AutoUSA, can be reached at



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