Mr. Natural...are you trained with the product knowledge to be able to answer questions about the product/inventory or do you go right for the appointment with the promise of information from the salesperson? I have a small store/single point Chevy that doesn't handle the process well at the moment.
I guess I'm one of the people Shannon is talking about below. I have been in the car biz for 34 years. I am the lone Internet person (Director) for a small group of stores. We get about 300+ leads a month. I handle every one of them, and set all the appointments. I distribute the appointments to the salespeople as I see fit. I do all the emailing, make the templates, create the campaigns, manage the CRM, and administer the follow up process that is so rarely adhered to by the sales people. We average around 30 sales a month. I am well paid, and I keep everything well ordered and at bay.
I am the #2 Nissan internet Department in my region, and about middle of the road with Kia. My budget is basically ZERO. I have to do it all, and that's not much beyond keeping up with the incoming leads. Though I try to get the sales people to take the baton and do the follow up after the leads get a few days old, they have to be ridden and watched. They just don't do it. Sales people just can't understand that a person generating an internet lead is much farther from buying that any other type of lead. I often hear: "I called them, but they won;t return my call." Are you shittin' me?
They keep paying me, so I feel good about what I'm doing.
Great question, Elise. In my opinion and experience, larger volume stores should have a BDC since most of those stores receive several hundred or 1000+ leads per month. Smaller volume stores can't (or don't want to) spend the money to bring the extra personnel on.
Cradle-to-grave salespeople should only handle 60-75 leads/mo in order to ensure every lead is worked as hard as possible. Since they have to spend a portion of their day doing meet-and-greets, walkarounds, test drives, write-ups, back-and-forth with the desk, TOs and the like, there's only so much time they can spend on the computer and sending videos/emails. Spreading the leads to the floor, the number of leads they can handle drops even lower.
Doing the math, you'd need 15-20+ dedicated salespeople handling leads to be most successful in this format. Give them any more than 60-75 leads and they begin to cherry-pick the leads, not working each lead equally and diligently. They start to make assumptions about the prospects submitting them (bottom-feeders, not serious, time-frame is not today, etc) and make excuses that they're too busy to follow up with every prospect.
Remember, also, that not all salespeople in the store want to spend the time necessary to do this right, and some salespeople (usually the top performers) have enough repeat and referral traffic that they feel they don't need to take Internet leads. Others aren't comfortable using a computer and would rather spend the majority of their days doing face-to-face work - if not at your store, then at one that will support that comfort level. Still others are better face-to-face than on the phone, and you want to utilize their talents to everyone's benefit.
On the other hand, the average BDC rep, since they're sitting in front of their computer all day and not responsible for doing walkarounds, test drives, write-ups, back-and-forth with the desk, TOs and the like, can handle 100-150 leads per month, depending on how good they are. With 800 leads/mo. coming in, you'd need 7-8 BDC reps, plus the floor salespeople don't revolt or complain about getting skated. I have a lot more to say but this is already getting to be a ridiculously long answer. If you ever want to discuss it, feel free to call me...
Good question - And I'm answering in hopes that we'll hear from some other peeps as my experience is a bit dated.
In my 15 years experience in such things, I found that it was difficult (but not impossible) to find the combination of qualities that provide for thorough follow up and technological know how with sales prowess all in one "person". If you're lucky enough to have a host of these dual-personality type professionals, or you have some CRM ninja that minds the follow up work for the group, you'd probably fare best with a cradle to grave system. If not, the BDC T.O. system will likely give you a higher ROI on your Internet marketing $. Our business has come a long way since I started responding to Autobytel leads in 1996, but I still question whether - with all of the pressures that are placed on sales personnel in terms of CSI, product knowledge, and productivity, if we don't really still NEED that separation to maximize our opportunities.
I have not seen an instance where BDCs taking leads improved the closing ratios. If they actually developed business, I might feel differently. Adding another layer to the sales department using $10/hr and mostly inexperienced phone people doesn't work. I understand that there are exceptions but I have yet to see one in operation.
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