Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CRM: Why a Good Internet Lead Manager (ILM) is Essential to Making the Most Sales!

By Keith Shetterly, keithshetterly@gmail.com
Copyright 2009, 2011, All Rights Reserved.

When reviewing a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) for your dealership, the operation of the Internet Lead Manager (ILM) as part of your CRM software is essential to achieving your best Internet sales--regardless of whether you operate a BDC, an Internet Department, or cover your Internet leads with an “Internet Dealership” approach where any sales consultant can competently receive and sell customers via Internet leads.  Without a solid ILM to manage them, your Internet leads will not be effectively answered, tracked, and matured to sales.

The ILM is your Internet doorbell, answering machine, and automated greeter for your customers, plus it is the tracking tool that an Internet Director and/or GM uses to make sure the customers are subsequently being answered and worked by live sales consultants in a consistent, effective, and sales-producing manner.   A good ILM receives a lead, alerts staff and management, provides an email auto-response to assure the customer that staff is working to answer their needs, reminds sales staff for a live response, allows you to prioritize your leads (1st Party, 2nd Party, and 3rd Party),  monitors and reports on lead response time, keeps track of the phone and email conversations with the shoppers and customers using the CRM, and escalates any unanswered leads for sales and management attention until they are answered.   An ILM must also integrate with—or be an actual part of, hopefully—your CRM software to ensure that customer contact by the sales consultants is monitored, organized, and moving towards an ultimate sale.

All this applies whether the lead was a direct query to your website(s) from the customer, came via new paths such as social media, or was sent by a lead provider.   And, though not classically an operational point, the screens used to monitor an ILM should also be concise and easy to read for at least customer name, lead time, lead type (GM, Dealix, AutoTrader, etc.), response timers, last sale staff action, last sales staff action overdue, and type of alert(s) and escalation(s).

ILM escalation paths for unanswered leads or overdue follow-up are extremely essential to getting the most sales from your leads.  If no “live response” is provided from the sales staff within 15 minutes, for example, then the ILM escalates the lead to the next salesperson and/or to a wider group of salespeople who can and will respond. 

These escalations should provide distinct “escalation” alerts to email, phones, and the ILM screens for the appropriate sales staff and one or more managers, and they should provide multiple escalation steps in cases where any initial response is still needed past the first escalation.  This escalation operation must be as flexible as possible—in fact the ILM should allow for different escalations depending on the shift and/or day of the week and, as well, depending on lead type/source (1st Party leads from your own website should go “red” faster than others, for example).  And escalating by make and new/pre-owned is even better (you might want leads from a demo up for sale or a manufacturers program get fastest attention, for example).

The ILM/CRM combination must also ensure that all emails and phone contacts are logged and available for monitoring, planning, appointments, notes, etc. so that the lead is moved along to a sale in a successful and coordinated fashion.  Reminders and automatic scheduling of emails, calls, and letters in a contact schedule for working Internet leads are essential, as is a good organization of the email templates that are a must for the fastest Internet sales response (speed wins on the Internet!).

And so your customer presses your Internet doorbell, your sales staff contacts them immediately—and then they get them promptly into the store and sell them a vehicle!  Sound good?  With an ILM working as described here, your Internet lead handling be organized to get the most sales you can, just like that.

So, how much of all this does your current, or being-considered-for-purchase, ILM in your CRM do today?  If you don’t know, be sure to ask.  The Internet is your greatest sales source in history, and if somebody rings your Internet sales doorbell, you need a solid, sales-enabling ILM to help you answer it and sell the most vehicles.

There’s that doorbell now.  Hear it?  Your ILM should.



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