Today, 80-95% of the shoppers at dealerships across North America go unsold every month.
And hardly any sales come from shoppers after 30 days. Imagine that. Dealers have spent thousands of dollars generating showroom traffic and leads, yet 85% of them go unsold, and hardly any sales come from shoppers after follow-ups stop. On the other hand, the buyers are still shopping, and nearly 40% buy over the next 90-180 days, just not at that dealership.
Auto Dealer Dead Lead Problem
Today’s commonly used follow-up tools and approaches have dealers focus on ready-to-buy prospects and low-funnel buyers. On one side are the manual approaches, which tend to be sell or die. On the other side are the tools, like templated automation, conversational messages or similar inventory, which are aimed toward low funnel and cannot deliver content and personalization that aligns with the top and mid-funnel buyers.
Working leads also takes a lot of effort. Dealers focus these efforts on recent leads because they’re more likely to close, but buyers often take time to decide on car purchases. As the close rate drops over time, it becomes cost-prohibitive to keep working leads even though many are still in the market.
The result is cookie-cutter messages or blast mailers that use a shotgun approach to all marketing. Shoppers ignore these messages for the most part, as they have templated content and minimal personalization. The primary call to action in these messages is “Can we help?” “When can you come to the dealership?” “Are you still in the market?” There is little information given to help car buyers as they wrestle with numerous choices and decisions..
Solving the Dead Lead Problem with AI and Automation
Dead leads are impossible to solve manually or with current tools. AI and automation can be the dealer’s best friend. It can help dealers run their sales efficiently and maximize the potential of every shopper.
Let’s break this down and see how this can happen:
Create Shopper Intelligence: AI is great at crunching numbers and finding patterns. It can help create intelligence for every shopper to identify their likely next vehicle, what they like in a vehicle, where they are in their buying journey and more. This shopper intelligence can be used to communicate with the individual.
Content Automation: The content that a typical buyer uses in their car-buying journey is scattered all over — dealer sites and channels, OEM sites and channels, and external influencer content. AI models can bring the right content that can then be used to engage the customer.
Process automation: Next, the automation can mash up the content based on lead intelligence and ensure that the right content reaches the right customer at the right time and fits into the dealership’s current process.
These three steps enable the dealer to follow up with each customer individually at scale, which they cannot do at a store or manual level. The goal is not to push but to nudge the buyer to the next step.
Sales Operations Efficiency and Upside Benefits
Upside: Let’s first look at the upside of this technology for dealers. It enables dealers to take the leads they have already paid for and are “dead” or “unresponsive” and convert them to buyers, which was not possible previously.
Efficiencies: It helps dealers maximize the money that marketing already spent on generating leads and showroom traffic and get more sales, thereby reducing the cost per car sold. It helps dealers become more efficient with advertising and marketing spend. Dealers can decide what to do with the efficiencies — run with fewer follow-up staff, hire better staff and pay more or both.
Powering sales operations with AI and automation gives dealers an outsized advantage in their market, getting sales from shoppers they never thought possible and reducing floor plans, marketing and staffing costs.
It also saves dealers in other ways. Unlike manual approaches, AI doesn’t need training costs as it is trained to be the best. It shows up every day and works every day — and works 24/7. It never takes a lunch or vacation break and never calls in sick. It’s that simple. The AI-driven future of dealer sales operations is here, and there is no turning back.