It seems like the most popular phrase of 2016 is “Work smarter, not harder.” When you’re working long hours at the dealership, it seems like that’s easier said than done. Most of the programs available take more work to learn than to actually use — you almost need an engineering degree to figure them out. I wanted to share with you the latest tools my dealerships are using to improve follow up and, once you get them set up, they can run in the background automatically for you.

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Every month your dealership purchases or generates hundreds — if not thousands — of leads from your Website. Unfortunately, the average closing ratio is still less than 20 percent. When I started selling cars in 1987 for Ricart Ford, we knew that customers would “buy or die” within 24 hours and, if someone drove to our dealership, they were a buyer. In fact, if you let a customer leave without a TO, you were in hot water. The fact is that people don’t shop for cars for fun or because they want to spend the day with a salesperson in hand-to-hand combat negotiation on a price. They’re shopping because they need a new car.

One thing that has not changed in the last 30 years is that people do not like car shopping. I had a customer compare the experience with going to a dentist and getting a root canal. What has changed is that customers now know exactly what they want and are doing most of their shopping online. The biggest change is the time they invest in online research before ever visiting your dealership. The car buying cycle can now last as long as 90 days.

By recognizing the evolving buying process and leveraging technology, you can now target customers when they are in the buying mode and effectively work smarter, not harder. First, set up “live clicker notifications,” available through some CRMs and most email deployment systems. This tool delivers the business intelligence that can guide your sales team through the selling process. Specifically, the clicker notifications will alert you when a prospect has opened your email and then clicked through to your Website. If someone opens your email and then clicks through to your Website, they are a potential buyer and you should give them a call — no teeth pulling required.

When you send an email to a lead in your CRM, the clicker notification will tell you:

  1. The prospect’s name
  2. Their email address
  3. Their phone number
  4. The link they clicked on
  5. Other information in your CRM

These clicker notifications will allow your BDC or salesperson to make a phone call to the prospect and talk to them about what they are interested in. You can virtually eliminate the cold call.

Big Brother is watching and, with follow-up technology, your dealership can find out who clicks on your marketing messages and what links they clicked on. Use this information carefully, however, or you will scare off the customer. For example, if you know that they clicked on the “Value My Trade” link in your email, use a soft opening such as informing them about the big sale your dealership is having and how you’ll be paying 120 percent over book value for clean trades.

Another new service available is “return visit notifications” and, in my opinion, this is one of the best-kept secrets out there. Most dealers are already using some type of retargeting, such as placing a tracking pixel or cookie on a customer’s browser when they visit a Website. When that Website visitor continues browsing, they will see banner ads and side column ads from the dealership they visited.

I have found that putting a tracking pixel on a prospect after they click on your email campaign is even more effective. A unique Website visitor may or may not be ready to buy, but an email clicker is definitely already in the buying funnel. Now, when they return to your Website to do additional shopping, you can send them a “high-impact” email marketing message. Additionally, your dealership will receive a “return visit” notification just like the clicker notification. Notify your BDC each time that prospect returns to your Website.

Big Brother is watching, and it is time to put him to work for you. Business intelligence like clicker notifications and Website visit notifications are available now. Get ahead and implement this new technology today. If you have questions about your current CRM or email deployment system, let me know and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

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