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DEALERSHIPS are missing out on sales of new and used cars by marking prospective customers as ‘lost’ leads too readily.

Research carried out by electronic customer relationship management provider Marketing Delivery found that 36% of customer prospects who had been registered as lost leads by sales staff at franchised dealerships were still looking to buy a vehicle.

Of those still looking to buy, vehicle availability was cited by 39% as the primary reason for them not progressing to a sale with the dealer. Had they been updated about relevant new stock arriving at the dealership, they would have re-engaged.

Marketing Delivery’s analysis also identified affordability’as a key reason for not making a purchase following an enquiry. 25% of all ‘lost lead’ consumers said high purchase price was the main obstacle to a sale, while 13% felt they weren’t offered enough in part-exchange for their existing vehicle. A further 9% cited unaffordable monthly payments.

People skills matter in vehicle sales, so it’s no surprise that a lack of rapport can become an issue. According to Marketing Delivery, 9% of those marked as a ‘lost lead’ said they were still in the market for a new car but did not want to maintain contact with a specific salesperson.

Looking at the process of logging a lead as lost from the dealers’ perspective, the primary justification given by dealership sales staff is a lack of response from the customer, cited in 30% of cases. Vehicle availability was only referenced by dealer sales staff in 2% of instances.

 Jeremy Evans, Managing Director at Marketing Delivery, said: “Our new data suggests dealers are too readily giving up on a large number of leads. With continued uncertainty in the UK new car market, new and used car dealers could and should be doing more to keep potential customers engaged with the sales team.

“Vehicle availability is one of the main reasons that prospects stop responding to dealer contact, suggesting a huge opportunity for those dealers willing to be a little more patient.

“Sales teams can use automated eCRM tools to keep undecided used-car customers engaged by alerting them to the arrival of new stock which matches their initial enquiry. Where price is a primary consideration, the same tools can be used to update prospects if a dealer reduces the price on a car.

“The key is maintaining engagement with potential customers to keep them in the sales conversion and maximise the likelihood of conversion.”

Marketing Delivery’s Car Alerts service helps dealers keep consumers informed after they have been marked as a ‘lost lead’. Consumers can be auto-enrolled, providing them with automated ‘real-time’ alerts when new stock arrives that matches their initial enquiry.

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