Roundtable recap: Targeted creative, Optimizing the Lead Mix

Targeted Creative: Unprecedented Efficiency or Unnecessary Complexity or Expense

Moderator
Alex Hultgren, Ford Motor Company

Panelists
Anne Steinhauer, AutoTrader.com
Lisa Valentino, ESPN
Paul Ollinger, Facebook
Sarah Ripmaster, Pointroll
Brandon Rea, Vibrant Media

Question: How have you targeted creative on your site?

  • Anne: Third party sites do it for different reasons – mostly to tailor the message for the audience
  • Lisa: Understanding environment, understand behavior, how fans consume site – you have to be that much more relevant – must have ability to connect at local level, demographics or psychographics
  • Sarah: It is important to think of creative as it is a huge part of the equation – can’t get away from large brand building.  Dynamic creative is effective but not easy to deliver
  • Brandon: In-text advertising and page level targeting is like a cross between search and display.  Make creative entertaining and informative

Question: Most advertisers focus on KPI.  How do you build a brand outside of advertising?

  • Anne: Strong editorial focus, reviews, inventory
  • Lisa: Multiple touch points, incorporating geo targeting and accessing local sites – push on main page and target on local sites
  • Brandon: At the national level, brand attributes such as quality, key features, discovery type of information.  Tier 2 should do retail type of displays
  • Lisa: Where appropriate become part of creative
  • Paul: Bigger ads is not a sustainable strategy.  Provide platform to create and improve relationships
  • Sarah: Creative should be different as you move down the funnel
  • Advertisers/Publishers and someone like Pointroll are in the same room to create creative
  • Anne: Measure lift in brand intent – advertising influences brand.  Click is an important metric but not the sole thing

Optimizing the Lead Mix: a Challenge to Improving ROI

Moderator
Roy Bavaro, DCH Auto Group

Panelists
Phil Dupree, AutoUSA
Cory Cox, Nissan
Sean Fox, Reply, Inc.
Rick Jones, Urban Science

Question:  I am a consumer, I reluctantly put in my information – no idea where that lead has gone.  What should the dealer expect?  What can the consumer expect?

  • Consumer is shopping across dealers, contact them in their preferred method and answer their questions.  Engage with them the way they want to engage.
  • Price and availability are the starting point to building trust and positive consumer experience

Question: How do you deal with volume vs. quality of leads?

  • Rick: It goes down to dealer level or OEM level, because you have the technology for both.  There is treatment path for every lead – through scoring you can treat leads differently if OEM and dealer collaborate for optimal touch point
  • Sean: If you take 30-40% top leads and drop 60% that changes financials.  Variable treatment helps us get feedback.  Have programs for lower scores because they may be 45-90 days out and not an immediate buyer.  It’s short sighted to just throw them out

Question: What should be the optimal lead mix?

  • Cory: Have dealer web sites leads, OEM leads, third party site leads.  Nissan has flexibility on how they package these for dealers

Question: Social media – are you who you say you are and can I trust you?

  • Use as much transparency as possible.  Make sure salespeople are trained to deal with bridging the online and personal experience
  • Phil:  Social is a little bit of a shiny new object, I invest X and how do you know you get Y?  It is like brand building, you have to in the social media space to be in the consideration set
  • Cory: Multi-tasking is the key today.  People have the TV on in the background and also are on Facebook at the same time
  • Rick:   Long term brand reinforcement is what social media is most relevant fo

Roundtable Recap: Moving Online Leads to Offline Sales, OEM and Dealer Group Web Sites


Moving Online Leads to Offline Sales
Moderator: Angie Sherrell, GS Marketing Group, Inc.
Panelists: Clayton Stanfield, eBay Motors; Todd Smith, ActivEngage, Inc.;
Jim Flint, John Eagle Dealerships; Pete Dalamaggas, Toyota of Des Moines

  • The dealers who will be successful in moving online leads to offline sales will have strong systems in place to manage leads and will enter into relevant conversations with shoppers.
  • Setting daily priorities is critical to getting better in the lead handling process.
  • Leads are an opportunity to make a great first impression, and dealers need to take every lead seriously.
  • Focus energies on the customer. Jim: “If you follow the people, the dollars will follow after that.
  • “The three C’s,” connection (Google Analytics, etc.), conversation (setting up appointments, etc.), and conversion (including tracking converted sales).
  • The top reasons people engage with the dealers: asking about product availability, pricing information, incentives/rebate information, customer service, and vehicle features and functionality.
  • Have proactive engagement; ask shoppers if they have driven the vehicle, provide links to a virtual test drive, discuss available inventory, review rebates, and review financing.
  • The goal is to get shoppers information, get it to them in a timely manner, and make sure it’s relevant.
  • You still need to give the shopper a reason to come visit you at the dealership. Let them know a lot of different things about your dealership, and build a relationship so that they like you.
  • In the end, it’s the people working in the dealership, whether online or in the store, that makes a dealership successful in converting leads to sales.
  • Clayton: Assume that the shopper is sending leads to multiple dealerships. Then ask how to take that lead and handle it better than other dealerships.
  • Todd: Chat is a way to create an incredible sales experience and dealers can create the same sales process online as in brick and mortar.
  • Jim: Challenge to dealers: Build your business by completing Google AdWords training and developing one AdWords campaign.
  • Pete: If you treat the shopper with respect and get them to come see you at the dealership, then you can successfully convert online leads to sales.

OEM and Dealer Group Web Sites Present and Future
Moderator: Mike DeCecco, Dealer.com
Panelists: DeLu Jackson, Subaru of America, Inc.; Jerry Winder, Larry H. Miller Management Co.; Alan Krutsch, Walser Automotive Group; Vincent Micciche, Group 1 Automotive

  • There are a variety of models for OEM and dealer group Web sites, ranging from strict uniformity, to other models that allow for more flexibility at the dealer level, to compliancy guidelines, as well as other template hybrids.
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to be found across this spectrum.
  • Manufacturers and dealerships both share a common goal: to sell more cars. However, beyond that main goal, there are other goals to consider for the Web site.
  • Manufacturers would like Web sites to deliver consistent OEM branding to build the brand’s competitive advantage.
  • With a uniform OEM template, consistent branding is protected, incentives carry through to the site, and all dealers are on level ground; however, dealer control is limited.
  • OEMs face the challenge that some dealers are proficient in the online arena, while others want and need help. However, there are limited resources to see this though.
  • Dealer groups have the challenge of building their own brand as well and building a local competitive advantage. They may also have numerous brands in multiple locations.
  • Panelists expressed concern that OEM template sites don’t deliver as well as their own dealer group web sites so they create a second site to help them achieve local goals.
  • Be that as it may, there is growing concern that numerous sites are creating confusion in the marketplace with shoppers who are searching for information and with dealers who have to decide which site to market.
  • The OEMs and dealers both play a role in building a relationship with the customer, though it may be at different times along the funnel. Right now, it doesn’t look like there is one answer to the question of how the customer relationship is handled in the online shopping experience.

Beyond RFQ to Track Lower-Funnel Shoppers

One of the great challenges for the automotive Internet is reaching lower funnel online shoppers. The Request for Quote (RFQ) is the most prominent process to get buyer contact information to dealers, but its reach has proven to be limited. As shown below, the rate at which new-vehicle Automotive Internet Users (AIUs) submit RFQs has not only stagnated in recent years, it has actually gone down. What else can dealers use to track consumer interest?
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One key problem is shopper wariness of being contacted by dealers. Data from the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 New Autoshopper.com Study (NAS) shows the average new-vehicle buyer starts using the Internet for information 12.4 weeks before buying and doesn’t start visiting dealerships until five week later. Part of the promise of online research is to avoid the pushy dealer salesperson, so consumers have every incentive to stay as anonymous as possible.

Here are a couple ways dealers can still identify, connect and track intenders:

Exchange – fulfilling promises
Fortunately, automotive sites have other mechanisms to encourage “hand-raisers” to self-identify purchase intent. Brochures, mailing lists, emailed listings, and registration content offer something in exchange for personal information (even if only an email address) beyond the too-often-unfulfilled-promise of a price quote.

Utilizing Anonymous Online Activity
Audience intent to purchase – even when tracked anonymously – can also be valuable by demonstrating consumer interest in a vehicle and/or dealership. Configurators offer a wealth of data regarding the popularity of models, colors, packages, and options which manufacturers can mine to influence factory orders, producing real vehicle configurations that consumers want to buy. Data from dealership Web site referrals, map views, and dealer chats also generally point to how many people are interested in a specific dealership.

In an era of dramatically reduced automotive sales, lower funnel shoppers are more valuable than ever. Manufacturers and dealers need to sell vehicles, while third-party sites need to find other ways to monetize in order to survive. Increasing the effectiveness with which these sites identify purchase intenders will create a better outcome for all involved parties, including the buyers.

25 Random Things about the Automotive Internet

Online Automotive Review may not have a Facebook profile, but I can still make a “25 Random Things” list for it. Among the sources used were:

  • 2008 J.D. Power and Associates New Autoshopper.com Study (NAS)
  • 2008 J.D. Power and Associates Used Autoshopper.com Study (UAS)
  • 2008 J.D. Power and Associates Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study (DSOBS)
  • 2009 Wave 1 J.D. Power and Associates Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES)

So, here’s our list.

  1. 75% of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet in their shopping process
  2. All types of sites – manufacturer, third-party, and dealer sites – continue to add more and better tools for consumers
  3. Acura’s brand site went from all-Flash to almost all-HTML with its recent redesign
  4. Consumer reviews and ratings have become a central component of online automotive research, utilized by two-thirds of both new- and used–vehicle Automotive Internet Users (AIUs)
  5. Among online buying services, AutoTrader.com ranks highest in satisfying dealers with new-vehicle leads, while Cars.com ranks highest in satisfying dealers with used-vehicle leads
  6. Chat functionality seems to have been quietly removed from the Saturn, Chrysler Group, and Mazda Web sites in the past six months
  7. CarsDirect still offers online chat
  8. In 2008, only 4% of used-vehicle buyers found their vehicle via newspaper classifieds and classified ad magazines
  9. Typically, the first model shopped online is not the model ultimately purchased
  10. Online ad spending by the automotive industry continues to increase, at $2.45B in 2007 and a projected $2.98B for 2008 (eMarketer)
  11. Why aren’t more manufacturers posting their images to Flickr and other social media sites?
  12. Only 40% of dealers provide pricing on the first email to the customer
  13. Honda’s brand Web site was rated the most useful manufacturer site in the most recent wave of the Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study
  14. Kbb.com is the most-visited independent Web site, with 44% of new-vehicle AIUs and 57% of used-vehicle AIUs visiting
  15. The availability of vehicle inventory online continues to increase
  16. In the purchase month, new-vehicle buyers shop three or more models online
  17. Consumers are still wary of being contacted by dealers. Among new-vehicle buyers who didn’t submit an online lead, 50% stated that they just didn’t want to be contacted by a dealer
  18. Last year was finally “The Year of Mobile” and nearly a dozen manufacturers and independent Web sites jumped in
  19. Mobile automotive is heavily used by consumers while they’re out shopping and on dealer lots
  20. As shopper budgets tighten, demonstrating monthly payments and vehicle comparisons becomes increasingly important
  21. Automotive ad spending is down in almost all measured media categories except online
  22. Many third-party automotive sites and fewer than half of manufacturer brand sites offer RSS feeds
  23. Site visitors want interactive maps – they’ve been using them on Google and other sites for years. If you don’t provide this functionality, they are more likely to leave your site for a better experience
  24. According to Foresee, while 91% of online shoppers own mobile phones, only 29% use them to help make shopping decisions
  25. This year’s annual J.D. Power and Associates Automotive Internet Roundtable will be held October 14-16 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, NV

Pricing Transparency for Dealers?

How should dealers respond to online leads? “Faster” is one common answer – the 2008 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study (DSOBS) reports that the median time to respond to a lead is 45 minutes. While faster is generally better, it’s almost worthless if shoppers don’t get the information they want.

One recurring issue is pricing policy. Consumers want the price up front, but according to the 2008 New Autoshopper.com Study (NAS), 29% of new-vehicles buyers who didn’t submit an RFQ avoided doing so because they felt they wouldn’t get valuable/accurate information. A further 50% indicated that they did not want to be contacted by the dealer. If customers don’t want dealer contact, how will they feel about being dragged into the dealership just to get a price?

Unfortunately, dealers are often resistant to pricing transparency. The 2008 DSOBS found that only 40% of dealers provide pricing on the first email to the customer. Worse, 16% still insist on getting the customer to the dealership in order to discuss pricing.

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There’s a clear disconnect going on here: customers want up front pricing while many dealers don’t want to give it. But customers have the upper hand in this battle and will vote with their feet. And with automotive sales down dramatically, the dealers that meet this need for greater pricing transparency will be better positioned to make it through the down turn.

How are Third-Party Sites Generating Traffic to Dealerships?

In the 2008 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study (DSOBS), dealers were asked to provide a breakdown of the traffic generated by their lead service providers (new, used and member), in terms of the percent of traffic that comes in over the Internet, the percent of shoppers who walk into the store, and the percent of shoppers who call in after shopping on the Internet site.

The study finds that dealers have been keeping track of the origin of store traffic. Used lead providers drive the largest share of offline traffic – well over half of all used-vehicle shoppers either call in or visit a dealership as a result of seeing a used-vehicle listed on a site. In contrast, new-vehicle traffic is primarily driven online, with only 1-in-4 new-vehicle shoppers taking the time to call in to a dealership as a result of seeing new vehicles listed online. This makes sense given that shoppers see a used-vehicle online but need to uncover more about it to verify its condition and drivability, and compare it against other used vehicles. In general, the study also finds that automotive Web sites that are more lead aggregators, such as Dealix and Autobytel Inc., tend to have a higher share of online traffic versus their more branded counterparts, such as AutoTrader.com.

Member services, such as Costco Auto Program, are the third category of lead providers; the referred shoppers must also be members of the service. As a whole, this category provides the greatest percentage of online lead traffic compared to the new and used-vehicle lead providers; nearly two-thirds of all member store traffic is generated from the Internet. Therefore, different lead providers generate diverse proportions of customer traffic.

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For the dealers that see more online traffic, just how long does it take to respond to these Internet leads? In the 2008 DSOBS study, dealers report it takes about 45 minutes to respond to an online lead with a personalized e-mail or phone call. This excludes the typical auto response e-mails that many dealerships utilize.

Lead notification systems send an e-mail or text message directly to a dealer’s mobile device, alerting them that they have a new lead. This allows dealers to more swiftly respond to customer leads. About one-half of dealers responding to the 2008 DSOBS indicate that they use some type of lead notification program. Especially in today’s market, this type of technology is becoming increasingly important to dealers and their overall profit margins. If they don’t respond to that lead in a short amount of time, someone else will. The time it takes to personally respond to a lead should substantially decrease over the next couple of years.

There has never been a better time for dealers to really keep a close eye on how their lead providers are performing. It’s important to gauge how many leads are provided by each service, the frequency, and overall quality of these leads. This will ultimately help dealers to respond accordingly to the mixture of traffic coming in.

Membership Services Provide Benefit to Dealers and Consumers Alike

J.D. Power and Associates conducts an annual Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services (DSOBS) Study to measure dealer opinions about the major independent and manufacturer lead providers. Among used-vehicle lead providers, the 2007 DSOBS found that AutoTrader.com and Cars.com ranked first and second, respectively, with a large gap separating them from the rest of the competition. This is perhaps not surprising, given that they are by far the dominant companies in this area, with huge inventories, name-recognition, marketing expenditures, and advanced Web sites. And of course, most dealers subscribe to one or both for their used leads.

On the new-vehicle side, both AutoTrader.com and Cars.com are strong players (AutoTrader.com ranks first), but others also play major roles. Beside independents like Dealix and AutoUSA, manufacturers and member services provide alternative avenues for consumers, giving dealers additional opportunities for leads. These different options may help dealers reach different audiences, regionally, demographically, or perhaps even psychographically.

One markedly different type of service is member services, which provide automotive buying opportunities to members of their clubs or organizations. While not particularly high-volume, they often generate very high quality leads with high close ratios. The average close ratio for member services is 30%, vs. 25% for used-lead services and 19% for new-lead and manufacturer services. In fact, Costco Auto Program is the close ratio industry leader (across all OBS types) with an outstanding average dealer experience of 33% of their leads turning into an actual sale. Various other organizations also offer these types of services to members at smaller or local levels, including credit unions, community groups, etc.

The membership itself provides a certain level of trust with the process. That is, members have faith that the organization has in some way selected a “trustworthy” dealer who offers a discounted price, even though it may not be the absolute lowest price available. Haven’t you ever, or known someone who has, purchased something from Costco for a price that is actually turns out to be higher than elsewhere, under the assumption that it is the best price, or at least a very good price?

Also, from my own experience, there is little or no negotiating involved, so many of the people who use membership services may actually be willing to pay a little more to avoid the negotiation process that is often unpleasant and time consuming. That is, they recognize that they won’t get the absolute BEST possible price, but they know it is a fair price, and a price they are willing to pay, especially to avoid the whole negotiation process.

While member services may never provide the volume of leads that come from other services, they will continue to be valuable leads for the dealer. With relatively high close rates and potentially higher margins, these leads will continue to serve dealers well and satisfy consumers’ needs for a trustworthy car buying experience.

Don’t Overlook Fuel Economy in Lead Responses

Close your eyes and it’s 1976 all over again. Or, maybe 1978. Those years when fuel economy and availability were big news. Here we go, again: suddenly prospects are interested in, and reacting to, fuel costs. Since the government can’t seem to divine a coherent energy policy, consumers fill the breach by making longer-term purchase decisions based on near term fuel prices. The shift in consumer interest in fuel economy is significant, if not seismic. And, it appears the shift is not uniform.

J.D. Power and Associates’ research illustrates that the focus on mileage is not universal. But, overall interest and concern – and the impact of fuel economy on purchase decisions – has risen over the past few years, as the chart below illustrates.blog post photo
The trend simply parallels the real-world understanding and experience of vehicle shoppers: fuel costs are not an esoteric news issue – the pain at the pump is personal and palpable. That doesn’t mean shoppers are willing to compromise to a large degree, yet; but, it’s a real issue and should be an important consideration in store marketing: POS, advertising (taking care to obey advertising regulations), vehicle walk- arounds, and even in RFQ responses. OEMs are moving mountains to give buyers the best of both worlds in performance and economy: there is a lot of product news to talk about. Still, some of the glow from that new, stretch SUV dims when owners are tapping into lines of credit to fill it.

Research also suggests that importance of fuel economy on vehicle purchase is not universal. Younger, white males, for instance, are either running refineries in their back yard, totally price insensitive, or partying like it’s 1968. Whereas African Americans, women, and older people find the issue more important in selecting a vehicle:
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It’s also interesting to note where these environmentally-sensitive buyers aggregate: the media they consume, and the sites they visit:
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A mixed bag, but one can see a heavy mix of females – old episodes of Andy Griffith notwithstanding – in many of these sites and programs.

As if real-world experience weren’t enough consumers reentering the market are going to confront new fuel economy labels. After last being revised in 1984, the EPA testing methods are also changed. Whereas the previous estimates were based on two laboratory tests under mild climate conditions and lower acceleration and driving speeds, the new estimates are based on vehicle-specific data from tests designed to reflect three real-world conditions: high speed/rapid acceleration driving; use of air conditioning; and cold temperature operation. These changes could reduce non-hybrid fuel economy labels by 10- 20 per cent city, and five to 15 per cent highway. And, on hybrids by 20-30 per cent city, and five to 15 per cent highway.

Thus, the prospect walks in with varying degrees of fuel costs on his or her agenda, and sees lowered fuel economy labels.

Whether or not the fuel economy issue is another blip, or a long term marketing issue is hard to guess. Scarcity has more often been a deal breaker than price. But, at $90 a barrel – and no one knowing how high “up” is – one can imagine this issue not going away soon. Of course the American consumer has shown a remarkable ability to consume in the face of disaster; and, the vast array of planned technological advances is going to close the gap between vehicles people want and the cost of fuel. There’s nothing like necessity to drive invention.

But, sales people have to confront what’s on the floor today; and, be prepared to address the issue of fuel efficiency. So, in configuring a deal – even when responding to an RFQ – it’s worthwhile to address operating costs as part of the value equation. Some shoppers are very conscious of fuel economy; and, in some vehicles that is the strongest feature. For other buyers it’s a lower priority, but should still be addressed. Fuel efficiency is a process not an event: there are important things owners can do to improve operating efficiency.

An RFQ is a request for a price, but it doesn’t mean other issues that can sway a sale shouldn’t be addressed. No matter how the presentation is framed, the data show that fuel economy concerns are back; and, that should matter to the sales team.

Dealer Attitudes Toward Online Service Providers? Getting Better, but Room for Improvement

Dealers expect a lot from their online buying services. When it comes to new vehicle leads, quality is of prime importance; with used vehicles, quantity is key. Results from the J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 Dealer Satisfaction with Online Buying Services Study, (DSOBS) suggest that while online buying services are doing a good job in delivering on dealer expectations, more is expected.

Steve Witten, executive director of marketing/media research at the firm points out that “As products and services offered by online lead service providers continue to evolve, so does dealer satisfaction with those services. rdquo; In noting that dealer satisfaction averages 585 on a 1,000 point scale, for the new-vehicle lead segment, and 613 for the used-vehicle lead segment, Witten went on to say that “…there remains considerable room for improvement in delivering the level of service dealers expect.

As the charts below illustrate, AutoTrader.com ranks highest in satisfying dealers with online buying services for both new and used-vehicle leads. Costco Auto Program again leads the Member Services category this year with a score of 638 (not shown).

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The study finds that dealers typically respond to online leads with a personalized e-mail or phone call within 48 minutes; indeed, 46% of dealers report they respond to online leads in 30 minutes or less, while nearly three-fourths of dealers claim to respond in one hour or less.

While the slower responding dealers need to remember how important a nearly-immediate response is to the online shopper, dealers as a whole are doing an amazing job of turning around online responses. Imagine what those response times would have been just a few short years ago.

Lead management is a hot topic in the industry as OEMs, online providers, and dealers all wrestle with how to enhance the online shopping experience while managing the quantity/quality conundrum.

What are your experiences with online buying services?

A Round Trip Ticket on the “Be-Back” Bus

Okay you did everything right: the online RFQ came in and you quickly pulled together the information. You not only gave them the price, equipment, and VIN of the vehicle the lead requested, but you book-ended that with a higher and lower-priced alternative. You even added a late-model used vehicle that approximated their interest.

That’s not easy to do with one eye on the clock. But, the information was sent back out in less than 45 minutes. Then…

Silence.

So you moved to “defcon 2”: pursuit. Follow up e-mails, phone calls, and more e-mails, with more exciting news from the dealership. Maybe the BDC then took it over, or maybe the lead stopped being your lead and open season on the prospect was declared. One, two, three or four weeks go by without any response. Meanwhile, in the press of business, this prospect rapidly falls off the radar. A lot of stores give up after 30 days, most after 45. Some keep sending out increasingly general messages and newsletters, most of which have nothing at all to do with the original query, but make the dealership feel good about the efforts they make to stay in contact with prospects. Unfortunately, at the end of the process the e-mails simply become annoying to prospects who might have already bought at a competing dealership.

Many sales people give up too quickly. Some hang on, badly, too long. The reality is an RFQ is not a request to buy; a lead is not always a prospect, and a prospect is not always in a hurry. The shopping funnel – although alive and well – is not always fast, and usually not linear. Consider this data from the 2007 J.D. Power and Associates’ 2007 New Autoshopper.com study below. While 34% of shoppers buy within one month of deciding they need a new vehicle, 27% stretch their shopping over six months

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Hypothetically, for every 10 leads you’re working on, about three of them are hot in the next 30 days; the rest will stretch their shopping over a longer period. Nearly three of the 10 leads will shop over six months.

But, in the end they will buy, from somebody.

The shopping funnel is, indeed, alive and well. But, it’s a very individualized process. There are a vast array of reasons driving the purchase from “Have to buy now” (current vehicle inoperable) to “Want to buy now” (just like to have a new vehicle). Some of the RFQs will come from loyal buyers; these are buyers who will buy your brand, maybe just not at your store. Again, J.D. Power and Associates data illustrates model shopping shows that 3 of 10 new vehicle buyers only consider one model when they’re in market, and most of those tend to be brand loyalists. The remaining seven out of 10 leads will look at two to four-plus models. Seriously shopping a lot of models takes time: quotes aren’t always comparable, inventories differ. Third party sites provide a load of comparative information, but more information doesn’t simplify the process.

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It’s important to stay with a prospect over the length of their shopping process; help them manage their own funnel. Whether it’s 30, 45, 90, or 120 days, it’s important to stay in the mix. The original RFQ was submitted for a reason: make/model interest or preference; geographic proximity; word of mouth or referral; don’t assume no news is bad news.

At the same time, it’s important to tailor the communication. Unless a prospect tells you they’ve bought and are out of market, you can continue to work the lead. But, the fourth or fifth e-mail shouldn’t be the same as the first or second; the buyer change over time: more experienced, more informed; maybe more frustrated.

Be-backs are not what they used to be; the Internet changed that. Many are buying round trip tickets on the bus. Don’t let them slip away by giving up too soon.