Lead Nurturing & Why Your Dealership Needs to Start

So you’re getting a good amount of internet leads filtering into your Lead Management or CRM system each month.  Great!  What now?  Most dealerships are doing a pretty good job of ensuring that all leads get responded to.  This is a good first step but simply responding to all leads doesn’t ensure great results.  The missing link very well could be lead nurturing.  So what is lead nurturing?  It’s the process of delivering value to individual leads based on where that lead is in the sales cycle.  To further explain, each lead is different, despite them looking very similar.  This means that while one customer could be at the stage where they’re comparing manufacturers, another may be ready to buy today and is simply narrowing their dealership of choice.  If you communicate with each of these leads the same way, you likely won’t have great results.  With lead nurturing, each lead is communicated to with the right message at the right time.  The difference in results can be astounding.  See below for a breakdown of how your dealership can go about lead nurturing.

Qualify new leads

Start with verifying simple things like the email address.  This can be done by using an email verification service.  You will see both paid and free options with a quick Google search.  By validating an email address before sending a response you are ensuring that the email will actually get through.  If you do get a lead with an invalid email address and no phone number, it’s best to mark that lead as invalid or simply delete it all together.  This will save you time and ensure that only qualified leads get your time and attention.  The other half of lead qualification has to do with sending the initial response.  The goal here is to initiate a conversation.  By doing so you should be able to identify where that lead is in the sales cycle.  Remember not to assume that the each lead is ready to buy!  Your initial response is a conversation starter and meant to engage with the customer.  If you hear nothing back from a lead after several attempts (using different approaches), you eventually need to decide when to cut off further attempts.  This cut off point is determined by you based on your lead volumes and availability of time.  For more tips on crafting a quality email response, see “The Value of a Quality Email Response”.

Segment qualified leads

Each lead that you successfully engage with will almost certainly be at different stages of the sales cycle –   Ready to Buy, Close to Buying, Considering Buying and Far From Buying.  You’ll want to find a way to mark each lead in your Lead Management or CRM system so that you can easily identify which segment that lead belongs to when you revisit it at a later time.  You can create your own segments, but try to avoid over simplifying by using hot vs cold which might create an environment where only hot leads are valued and cold leads are neglected.  Most sales people are already great at handling hot leads.  It’s the cold leads where most of the untapped potential lies.

Add value at all stages

The key to progressing a lead forward in the sales cycle is to deliver value at the right time.  Let’s use a “Considering Buying” lead as an example.  Although leads in this segment almost certainly won’t be top of mind, they still represent a valuable opportunity.  You’ll want to avoid trying to sell this lead because you will likely hear no response or potentially even a negative response.  Instead, think about how you can offer value.  Maybe a new report or article came out that highlights the benefits of one model over a competing manufacturer’s model.  Try sending them a link to this article.  What about a “Close to Buying” lead?  Let’s say that a great sale is coming up or a special incentive has become available.  Why not send this customer a quick note letting them know?  In each of these scenarios, you aren’t asking the lead to buy.  You are simply offering them information that is relevant and valuable to them.  The key is to pay attention to the needs of the customer.  This will help you determine what the right message is and when to send it. Also don’t forget to always be updating the lead profile as they provide more information or switch from one segment to another.

With these tips in mind, it’s time to start looking at your leads in a new light.  Lead nurturing very well could be the missing link in your internet lead handling strategy.

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