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How to Improve Dealership Lead Quality for More Car Sales

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

Most car dealerships (and their sales teams) clamor for “more leads,” but they are asking for more quality leads. While well-qualified leads generate profitable sales, weak or poor-quality leads only generate wasted time and disappointed sales teams when numbers aren’t met.

With a growing portion of the automotive buyer journey taking place across digital channels, focusing on the quality of your dealership’s automotive sales leads is more important than ever.

Gone are the days of hours on the phone trying to reach every customer in your CRM, and ahead of us are attributions to inbound leads from:

  • Search engine ads 
  • Social media platforms
  • Email campaigns

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

Explore these five tips and best practices 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. Commit to nurturing leads
  4. Create a marketing to sales sync-up
  5. Leverage automation and predictive marketing software

1.  Work with Sales to Define an “SQL”

What is an SQL?

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?

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

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • BDC

How can this change your dealership?

The absence of a company-wide definition for a sales-ready lead contributes to a significant disconnection between departments instead of facilitating a smooth hand-off. Whether it's a request for a test drive or an inquiry through an internet chatbot, it is essential to establish a clear understanding of what qualifies as a "hot" lead according to your sales team. This way, everyone can work together harmoniously.

2. Implement Lead Scoring

What is lead scoring?

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 have the flexibility to score leads using various methods, such as assigning points or implementing rankings like "hot," "warm" and "cold," or even using letters like A, B and C. Regardless of the chosen ranking system, assigning a score to each lead establishes a hierarchy for sales purposes. This approach guarantees that sales teams prioritize:

  • The most promising leads
  • The low-hanging fruit 
  • Strategically positioning themselves for success

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. This enables their team to easily identify and engage the highest-quality sales and service leads.

How can it change your dealership?

By implementing effective lead scoring, dealers can engage their best prospects with intelligent marketing campaigns that maximize the potential to close, by taking a data-driven approach to:

  • Organizing
  • Scoring
  • Engaging sales and service leads

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.

3. Commit to Lead Nurturing

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing involves the deliberate process of steering prospects through the sales funnel, establishing relationships through content and communication, regardless of their readiness to make a purchase. The objective is to cultivate customer loyalty and trust in your company and product by delivering personalized and timely marketing messages. This approach ensures that your dealership remains at the forefront of customers' minds when they are ready to make another buying decision.

Why is it important?

Multiple studies indicate that prospective buyers primarily engage with sales activities in the final phase of their car buying journey, leaving a significant period for research. During this crucial timeframe, it becomes essential for your dealership to effectively reach out to the buyers and convey your message. This is particularly important due to the prevailing challenges of decreased dealer and brand loyalty rates within the automotive industry.

Read more: 4 Types of Automotive Data to Understand & Nurture Buyers

How can it change your dealership?

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

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 a marketing to sales sync-up?

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. At least monthly, lead grades should be:

  • Reviewed 
  • Updated 
  • Reported to marketing

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

Keeping your dealership’s sales and marketing departments on the same page ensures both teams are working towards a common goal. 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 automation and predictive marketing software?

Rather than manually sifting through a dealership's CRM, marketing automation technology streamlines the process by automatically assigning numerical scores to leads. These scores are determined based on a variety of factors including the dealership's:

  • Marketing interactions 
  • First-party data 
  • Third-party data

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 automatically and intelligently targets and engages customers across a dealer’s loyalty, service-not-sold and conquest portfolios at key points throughout their customer journey.

Why is this important?

Leveraging marketing automation software is a crucial aspect for dealers to enhance the quality of their leads and attain consistent success, irrespective of market conditions. This advanced technology enables dealers to strategically focus on the most promising automotive leads, rather than engaging in untargeted cold calling, thereby maximizing their effectiveness.

Get the Guide: The 4 P's to Identifying Trusted Dealership Tech Partners & Data Providers

How can this change your dealership?

The symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing is what fuels the dealership’s profitability 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.