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Your First Response - what are you trying to say?

Jeff Kershner

Founder
May 1, 2005
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The first response to an "Internet lead" is so crucial. But yet as I'm consulting with dealerships, many screw it up.

Sometimes it's the manufactures fault and not the dealerships. I get it.

I witness long-winded templates full of irrelevant gibberish, emails confirming to the receiver that this is indeed an auto-response, shitty email templates addressed to <customer first name>. Some have built a business around the first response by integrating inventory options and incentives. Seriously.

Something so simple, yet so difficult.

I understand we tackled the subject before here at one DealerRefresh, but let's do it again.

It's 2015 – what is your first response/auto response to an "Internet lead"?
 
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joe.pistell

Uncle Joe
Apr 7, 2009
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It's been a long while since I've been in CRM. I'd like to send out a question (not a statement). Can the autoresponders of today be smart enough to know what the lead source is? If so, you can send a relevant question back. For example, if lead is a "Check availability" lead, I'd add: "...do you prefer this color?"
 

eddyshaf

Full Sticker
Jun 12, 2009
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Edward
Jeff - Great Question - I have long debated sending the "Kitchen Sink" response with ALL the recommended elements vs. the "One Liner" type response. (In the final analysis I am still just as confused as ever, but I lean more toward the one liner these days due to the massive popularity of mobile.)

For me the bottom line is to always, always, always give the customer a reason to respond because for me the initial response has but one purpose - to elicit a response. For me that means one thing and one thing only --- ALWAYS ASK A QUESTION!

That's it - short, simple, sweet and to the point and oh so easy, but in all my years of mystery shopping dealers across the country, it is the element which is all to often lacking.

It doesn't matter if you employ the OEM recommended Kitchen Sink template or if you go with the short and sweet One Liner type - just get that question in there RIGHT UP FRONT where they can't miss it and you will generate more replies which will naturally trickle down to more appointments and more shows and more SALES!!!
 
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Dec 29, 2014
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Sort of related: We've been pressing our dealers and doing a lot of A/B testing for how to respond to SMS leads. Many dealers ask for a script and there isn't one, except just being a human.

After looking at a number of conversations from different dealers, we found that they were too often asking questions that could easily be answered "no". IE: "Can I answer any questions for you?"

If a customer has just opened the door, why make the first thing you ask them "Would you like the door shut?"

A/B testing showed that responding via SMS with "Hey this is xxxx, from xxxx. How are you today?" elicited the highest engagement rate.

Still working on conversion tactics. Struggling with dealers going for the kill too quickly. Suggestions?
 

yagoparamo

Boss
Dec 30, 2009
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Not trying to be a smart ass but... if we have a full sales team with smart phones getting email leads should be the first response the exact answer to the customer's question? No more no less?
 

eddyshaf

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Jun 12, 2009
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@yagoparamo - I don't think anyone would ever accuse you of being a smart-ass :cool:

What if there is no stated question?
 

craigh

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May 19, 2011
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Not trying to be a smart ass but... if we have a full sales team with smart phones getting email leads should be the first response the exact answer to the customer's question? No more no less?
This was my argument too. We have sales BDRs now who get rated based on their time to reply.
Anything less than 10 minutes is basically A+ and we can always tell a difference in the conversations when responses are prompt.
I see no reason why every lead can't be replied to, without any canned response or copy/paste, within 15 minutes of receiving it.
 

craigh

Super Moderator
May 19, 2011
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@yagoparamo
What if there is no stated question?
Then the auto-responders are typically even worse. Auto responders are almost always a bad idea. (IMHO)
I often get them when mystery shopping stores who then proceed to reply properly 3-5 days (or never) later.
 

yagoparamo

Boss
Dec 30, 2009
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Yago
@yagoparamo - I don't think anyone would ever accuse you of being a smart-ass :cool:

What if there is no stated question?

Haha thank you @eddyshaf

There is almost always a question because most form leads in your website have a tittle.

The customer is either sending a "get eprice" request, or "lease payment" request, etc. Those could be random picks or they could be just the question on the top (when you have multiple CTAs) but in the end I think there is always a way to start.
 

eddyshaf

Full Sticker
Jun 12, 2009
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Edward
Haha thank you @eddyshaf

There is almost always a question because most form leads in your website have a tittle.

The customer is either sending a "get eprice" request, or "lease payment" request, etc. Those could be random picks or they could be just the question on the top (when you have multiple CTAs) but in the end I think there is always a way to start.
@yagoparamo - I think that you have hit on one of the most misunderstood areas of internet sales...lead source and how that should indicate the tactic/response which will increase engagement rates. And not just lead source like is it Cars.com or Autotrader or the dealership's website, but the specific button the consumer pushed which has set the expectation for your response.

Far too often, salespeople responding to internet leads have never even been taught, much less understand, much less care (gasp) what the lead source is and how it should affect their response! In my not so humble opinion (and none of my opinions are humble, in case you were wondering) this is the most critical area in which we fail the consumer, ending up over promising and under delivering rather than the reverse.

The ENTIRE internet sales process begins with the initial response; you never get a second chance to make a first impression. At least if you have an understanding of the path taken which has culminated in the submission of the request you have a greater chance of responding in a way which will resonate with the consumer's expectations.

What I have been attempting to learn for many years goes a step deeper...every study I have ever seen highlights why consumers will NOT submit a lead...what I want to know is:

Only about one in five people who are researching their car purchase online will choose to submit a lead. Does this action/behavior/choice somehow indicate that they are unique in some way that we could, should and must take into account when responding???