You’ve heard it all before.

You know that following up with your leads is essential to sales. You already follow best practices for lead follow up and you already challenge your sales team and/or Business Development Center (BDC) to respond to every lead.

So why read another blog that’s telling you to follow up with your leads? Maybe because you’re still losing money.

The game has changed and shoppers have been conditioned by companies like Google, Amazon, and Netflix to expect instant results and immediate answers to their questions and requests.

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You Can’t Afford to Wait

What if I told you that you only have 30 minutes to follow up with leads before they go cold? Do you feel confident that your leads would be responded to in the time needed to convert?

The truth is, 30 minutes is too late.

Studies show that the odds of making contact with a lead are extremely high – but only if follow-up happens within the first five minutes.1 If follow-up doesn’t happen within those five minutes, making contact with a lead is 21 times less likely to happen. After thirty minutes have passed, you are 100 times less likely to ever contact your lead.

Try waiting five hours. The odds of making contact with your lead drops by 3,000.

Again, you’ve probably heard these statistics before and you might think you’re doing everything you and your team can do, but is that true?

One study showed that shoppers who received replies within 10 minutes of submitting a request were three times more likely to visit a store than those who had received a slower response.2 In fact, after 20 minutes, the game is up. The data showed no apparent difference between following up within 24 minutes and 24 hours. This means that if your sales team or BDC is not following up with your leads within at least 20 minutes, you’ve probably already lost their business. Can you afford to do that?

How Much Are You Losing?

The odds of making contact change drastically because people are constantly moving from one thing to another. You have to catch them in the right mental state! The average shopper has been conditioned by today’s world of instant gratification. When they send an information request form, they’re expecting the information they want, right then. In fact, 53% of mobile site visitors will leave your page if it takes longer than three seconds to load!3 If follow-up doesn’t happen quickly and while your potential customers are expecting it, the odds of contacting them are slim – because they’ve already moved on to the next thing in front of them. Whether they’ve moved onto another dealership’s website or headed out to mow the grass, your window of opportunity with that customer has closed.

Maybe you’re skeptical. Maybe you think this information doesn’t really apply to you. Automotive dealers are some of the best responders to online leads.4 In fact, one study showed that 96% of automotive online leads were followed up within 24 hours of a lead submission.5 But that’s still too late.

Even among automotive dealers, leads are regularly lost or even totally ignored. Dealers complain about expensive marketing campaigns and contacts that don’t produce, yet nearly 25% of automotive dealers never respond to direct sales inquiries from their website – much less within 20 minutes.

How much is one potential lead worth to your dealership? Can you quantify the loss of each potential lead that isn’t followed up with in a timely manner? How much are you losing?

Consider it this way

Let’s say a shopper wants to surprise his mom with a new vehicle for Mother’s Day. His process begins online as he searches for the perfect vehicle within his area and price range. He finds a vehicle he likes on your dealership website and fills out a request form for more information. Once he inputs his information, his search doesn’t stop. He checks out a few more dealerships. Three minutes pass.

He fills out a few more information forms for Competitor Dealership #1 and Competitor Dealership #2 who have the same vehicle at a similar price. Six minutes are gone. Maybe he checks his email. Nine and a half minutes tick by.

He gets an email from a co-worker asking if he wants to meet up in 15 minutes and watch “the game”. Eleven minutes have passed by.

He googles information about the game. He texts his friend. Maybe he starts getting ready to go. Twenty minutes have passed and he’s forgotten about his recent search for a vehicle for his mom.

If your dealership called him right now, he’d be busy getting ready to meet his co-worker.

Put yourself in his shoes. Would you pick up the phone for a random number? If they left a message, would you call them back? What if they called you 30 minutes later while you’re watching the game? What about the next day? What if Competitor Dealership #2 calls first? Aren’t you more likely to go with the first dealership that responds to your requests?

There’s so much that happens in 20 minutes, which is causing your leads to go cold and your chance of making contact drop significantly. Consider the buyer’s journey and don’t assume you have time. It’s not worth the risk.

You’re probably losing more money to dead leads that you ever thought. Are your salespeople “cherry-picking” leads? Maybe they don’t want to waste their time, but they’re wasting your money. If you’ve paid for leads that aren’t being followed up with or being generated in a timely manner, then the money spent to acquire that lead and the money that could have been made from that lead will be lost.

Stop Wasting Money – Contact Your Leads

Regardless of what type of marketing you use, you should have a system in place that prioritizes lead follow-up. If you’re relying on your sales team to nurture leads, make sure they’re given the tools and the direction to accomplish what’s expected of them. If you don’t feel your sales team is capable of effective lead follow-up, you could increase showroom traffic and sell more cars simply by incorporating an incentive place or a skilled BDC team into your marketing and sales campaigns. The results will speak for themselves.

In the last few years, General Motors has put a stronger and stronger emphasis on having a healthy business development center for each of their dealerships.6 Alan Batey, President of GM North America, told Automotive News that he doesn’t see a BDC team as a way to create more leads, but as a way to develop the leads the dealership already has and turn those leads into appointments. This type of thinking MUST be working – as of November 2016, GM held three out of the four top spots in customer sales satisfaction among mass market automotive brands.7

Move Quickly

Whatever you choose to do in order to make lead follow-up a priority at your dealership, do it quickly. You may have already run out of time and lost a customer and a sale.

At J&L Marketing, we know that lead nurturing and follow-up is critical to a healthy marketing campaign. Each lead is a potential sale. Don’t underestimate the power of an effective lead nurturing strategy. We don’t.

1. https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/sales-statistics#sm.0000nm6l7m1dckdc9zrfc9jt3qp41
2. http://www.autonews.com/article/20140127/RETAIL/301279929/dealers-should-respond-to-questions-quickly-or-internet-shoppers-will-
3. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/mobile-page-speed-new-industry-benchmarks.html
4. http://www.autonews.com/article/20170407/RETAIL07/170409852/auto-retailers-top-other-industries-in-lead-responses-study-finds
5. http://www.business2community.com/sales-management/3-response-time-studies-lead-generation-wasted-sales-leads-01580290#rC3OWplzVUbq1dPH.97
6. http://www.autonews.com/article/20150125/RETAIL06/301269994/gm-eager-to-squeeze-more-out-of-bdcs
7. http://www.jdpower.com/cars/articles/jd-power-studies/2016-us-sales-satisfaction-index-study-results