The Ultimate Best Practices for Internet Lead Follow-Up

The Ultimate Best Practices for Internet Lead Follow-Up

A successful dealer knows that every lead needs to be contacted quickly and effectively in order to close them at or above industry benchmark.


By Matt Like, e-commerce director for Morgan Auto Group

The internet has changed how people buy cars. A lot of people do research online and then go to the dealership to test drive their favorite model. Some people are ready to buy right away, but others want to get more information before making a decision. That’s where you come in — you’re the trusted advisor who helps customers through this buying process. But if you don’t follow up with your leads, they might never end up buying a car from you!

In this article, we’ll explain why it’s important for dealerships to implement the best practices for following up with internet leads, then dive into what those best practices look like.

Dealerships get hundreds or thousands of internet leads per month. A successful dealer knows that every lead needs to be contacted quickly and effectively in order to close them at or above industry benchmark.

Let’s take a look at some common pitfalls to avoid that prevent dealers from maximizing their performance with internet leads:

  • Failure to read and comprehend the lead
  • Only calling one time
  • Following up too slowly (longer than five minutes)
  • Sending generic CRM email templates
  • Failure to engage the customer with SMS text
  • Failure to address direct or implied questions in the lead comments
  • Failure to get manager involvement after two-way communication has been established
  • Failure to track lead-to-appointment, appointment show and show-to-close percentages

Now that we know what “not to do,” let’s explore the best practices that have helped dealers achieve outstanding closing percentages with internet leads.

In order to run an internet department efficiently, there are a few simple metrics that dealerships should pay close attention to. According to Brian Pasch, an industry expert and consultant in automotive digital marketing, the “4 X 60 rule” should be applied to internet leads:

  • Lead to Contact – 60%
  • Contact to Appointment – 60%
  • Appointment Show – 60%
  • Show to Close – 60%

Using the 4 X 60 rule, we calculate that 100 internet leads should produce 60 two-way conversations, 36 appointments, 22 shown appointments and 13 sales. If your CRM doesn’t track lead contact, you can always calculate your lead-to-appointment by skipping lead contact and aim for a 36% appointment rate. 

There are many CRM workflow processes one can follow with great results, but we’ve found that the “email sandwich” method tends to work the best:

Day 1

  1. Immediate Phone Call (with voicemail)
  2. Send Personalized Email (with personalized video)
  3. Send SMS Text (follow TCPA regulations) with video
  4. Second Phone Call (after 5 p.m., no voicemail)

Days 2-5

  1. Morning Call and Voicemail (before 9 a.m.)
  2. Personalized Email
  3. Evening Call – No Voicemail (after 5 p.m.)

Week 2 to 6 months

  1. Automatic CRM emails every two weeks
  2. Phone Call (twice a week up to month 2)

Following this process means 10 phone calls and five emails over five days, before placing the customer into long term follow-up with automatic marketing emails for six months. The first week of follow-up is where 80% of the appointments will be made. Many dealers give up too soon and don’t provide high-value communication, which is why so many fail to capture the car deal. 

It’s vital to nail the process on day one with high-quality follow-up. On day one, response time and communication quality will train the customer on what to do with all subsequent follow-up attempts. You only get one chance to make a stellar impression, and that’s what it takes to win the business! A good rule of thumb is to ensure that every contact attempt adds value and is worth the customer’s time and limited attention span.

PRO-TIP: The initial goal of lead follow-up should be to establish a connection and build a relationship. Don’t add pressure by asking for the appointment before earning the right to do so.

Following these practices will develop effective follow-up habits and secure more sales!

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