Compared to other industries, dealerships have been doing a great job of lead follow-up.
At least that’s what was determined in the “2016 Sales Effectiveness Report on Lead Follow-Up in the Automotive Industry” study. The study looked at the Four P’s — promptness, personalization, persistence and performance — of successful lead engagement. There is an abundance of research on the importance of these aspects of lead follow-up, and the study looked at the extent to which auto dealers are putting this information into practice.
To do this, “secret shoppers” reached out to 59 automotive dealerships (and 538 companies across nine different industries in total). And what they discovered is that the automotive industry is head and shoulders above other industries.
The Auto Industry Scores High
Nearly half of auto dealerships responded to inquiries within five minutes — the optimal window for qualification and conversion — and only 6 percent took more than 24 hours to respond. Additionally, 25 percent made eight or more attempts to reply to queries. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) of dealerships that responded utilized all four key elements of personalization in their response: personalized greeting, specific mention of the lead’s inquiry, inclusion of specific contact information and time patterning (responses occurring at a time of day similar to the inquiry). Of the nine industries examined, automotive had by far the highest proportion of top-tier scores, with 38 percent of respondents receiving an overall “A” grade. This is terrific news.
But There Is Room for Improvement
While the auto industry as a whole performed well, there was still plenty of room for improvement. For example, 75 percent failed to make the eight or more attempts needed to engage an Internet lead, and only 2 percent of dealers responded to queries with emails that were more than 90 percent likely to avoid spam filters. One in five (19 percent) dealerships failed to respond to a direct sales inquiry from their Website at all.
Effectively following up on sales leads — especially when the sales floor is full of potential customers who need your attention right now — requires organization, time, persistence and more than a little repetitive drudgery.
AI to the Rescue
Humans are notoriously bad at repetitive tasks. Luckily, as is true in many aspects of our modern life, it’s artificial intelligence to the rescue.
Today’s AI is sophisticated enough to take over lead follow-up — conversationally answering questions and checking in at regular intervals — and pass the leads back to human sales reps. Actually, that’s an understatement; today’s AI is sophisticated enough to follow up more effectively than human sales reps — in many cases, three to five times higher than marketing or sales emails.
From more conversations come more showroom visits and increased revenue. It’s not a question of if you need this technology to stay competitive; it’s simply a question of when you’ll ultimately implement it.