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How to Improve Dealership Lead Quality for More Car Sales

In sales, it’s all about the number and quality of your leads.

Most car dealerships (and their sales teams) clamor for “more leads," but what they are really asking for is more quality leads. Intelligent marketers know if they are generating weak leads, as they won’t be seeing eye to eye with sales because:

  • Time is wasted
  • Tensions rise
  • Numbers aren’t met

In today’s digital age, especially in the automotive industry, the focus on the quality of sales leads is more important than ever. This is especially true as millennials are entering the market in large numbers. Gone are the days of hours on the phone, and ahead of us are attributions to inbound leads from:

  • Search engine ads
  • Social posts and 
  • Emails campaigns

Filtering through all these channels is crucial for giving salespeople the assistance they need to convert leads into sales.

Explore these 5 tips and best practice to help your dealership improve lead quality:

  1. Work with sales to define a “sales-qualified lead”
  2. Implement a scoring strategy for leads
  3. Make sure the team is lead-nurturing
  4. Put the marketing and sales teams in constant communication
  5. Use predictive marketing software

1.  Work with Sales to Define an “SQL”

What is it?

A “sales-qualified lead,” or SQL, is a prospect who meets your sales department’s definition of sales-ready to move to the next step of the sales funnel.

Why is this important?

Failing to establish a company-wide definition of a sales-ready lead creates a huge disconnect between the two departments rather than a seamless hand-off. Whether it be a test drive request or an internet chatbot inquiry, establish what your sales team deems a “hot” lead, so everyone is on the same page.

How can this change your dealership?

Establishing a dealership-wide definition of a sales qualified lead improves alignment across dealership departments focused on:

  • Sales 
  • Marketing
  • BDC 

It also empowers teams to efficiently and effectively:

  • Focus on building both lead quality and lead quantity
  • Target and engage the high-quality customers and prospects
  • Improve conversion rates and marketing ROI
  • Improve the ability to measure and analyze marketing impact

Get the Guide: 11-Point Marketing Checklist for Dealerships of Any Size

2. Implement Lead Scoring

What is it?

Lead scoring is a process of ranking a lead’s interest level and sales readiness, based on a methodology agreed upon by marketing and sales.

Dealerships can score leads in a variety of ways by assigning points or also implementing rankings like “hot”, “warm”, and “cold” or A, B, and C. However you want to rank them, assigning a score to a lead creates a hierarchy for sales. This ensures they are focusing their efforts on the low-hanging fruit first and setting themselves up for success.

The actual lead scoring should incorporate a combination of both explicit and implicit data. Explicit data is information the prospect provides, such as name, occupation, phone number, etc. Implicit data is what is revealed by the prospect’s online behavior, such as web pages visited and recency or frequency of visits.

Why is this important?

By combining implicit and explicit data from first and high-quality third-party data sources, dealers are empowered to transform their data into an efficient lead-scoring model that enables their team to easily identify and engage the highest-quality sales and service leads.

How can it change your dealership? 

By taking a data-driven approach to organizing, scoring and engaging sales and service leads, dealers can engage their best prospects with intelligent marketing campaigns that maximize the potential to close.

Implementing a lead scoring process also enables dealership sales teams to nurture “lukewarm” prospects not quite ready to purchase, keeping them engaged until they’re ready to re-enter the buying journey.

Download the Whitepaper: 3-Step Guide to Dealership Conquest Marketing

3. Commit to Lead Nurturing

What is it?

Lead nurturing is the act of guiding prospects down the sales funnel by building relationships through content and communication, whether they’re ready to buy or not. The idea is to build customer loyalty and trust in your company and your product through personalized and timely marketing messages, which keep your dealership top-of-mind when a customer returns to market.

Why is this important?

Various studies show that buying prospects really only engage with sales during the last third of the car buying journey, leaving a large gap of time for research. This is a crucial time for your dealership to get your message in front of the buyer, especially with diminished dealer and brand loyalty rates plaguing the auto industry.

How can this change your dealership?

Dealers can maximize customer engagement by analyzing the insights stored inside a dealership’s:

  • CRM
  • DMS
  • Equity mining tool
  • Sales platform

Examining high-quality, third-party data to personalize and target marketing messages is also an indicator of success in building customer relationships. Dealers can maximize customer engagement by leaning heavily on this data to generate targeted messaging.

4. Create a Marketing to Sales Sync-Up

What is it?

A quick meeting or call held regularly is crucial for any organization to maintain a level of success through lead-generation strategies. Management should review a few offer sheets, emails and phone calls each week, ensuring deals are up-to-date and well-communicated to every department. Lead grades should be reviewed, updated and reported to marketing at least monthly.

How can this change your dealership and why is it important?

Having the marketing and sales departments on the same page ensures the wheels keep spinning in unison. If the marketing department has no idea what happens to the lead, then the wheel has lost its proverbial axle. By keeping marketing and sales in sync, both departments are empowered to provide helpful feedback. This benefits both parties and keeps both teams in the same lane.

5. Use Automation and Predictive Marketing Software

If you’re working leads without marketing automation or predictive marketing technology, you may be working harder and not smarter. You may also be losing out on a large portion of potential quality car sales leads.

What is it?

Instead of manually sorting through a dealership’s CRM, marketing automation technology automatically scores leads by associating a numerical value to each prospective customer, impacted by a dealership’s marketing interactions, first and third party data and more.

Dealership marketing technology like Mastermind takes this one step further by generating an accurate and up-to-date Behavior Prediction Score® (BPS) that ranks buyers on a scale of 0 to 100. From here, Mastermind’s behavior prediction technology intelligently targets and engages customers across a dealer’s loyalty, service-not-sold and conquest portfolios at key points throughout their customer journey.

Mastermind’s predictive sales platform empowers dealers to improve their lead quality and quantity through:

  • Intelligent third-party data from leading industry sources
  • Sophisticated marketing technology
  • An in-depth dealership and competitive dashboard
  • Access to an expert consultative service team

Why is this important?

Using marketing automation software is essential for dealers to improve their lead quality and achieve sustainable success regardless of market conditions. This technology empowers dealers to more effectively and efficiently target and engage the best leads rather than fishing in the dark by cold calling.

Download the Guide: Predictive Marketing for Dealerships 101

How can this change your dealership?

The symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing is what fuels the dealership’s sales engine. Ensuring your lead qualifying process is finely tuned means you can get where you want to go, regardless of evolving market conditions.

Of course, the number of leads will always be important, but ensuring the leads are of high quality is critical to increasing dealership conversion rates, maximizing ROI and achieving sustainable success for the long run.

Want to learn how Mastermind empowers dealers to generate more high-quality leads that convert into profitable sales? Contact us today for a free consultation.