Lately there have been some pretty hip writers talking down the old, dusty website lead as if dealers should forego this antique in favor of the more Avant-garde “engagement” or the equally vaporous “VDP views.” Their argument – when they bother to attempt one – basically boils down to “consumers don’t submit leads; they engage.”
Okay. Great. But, um, if I’m an internet salesperson, I can’t feed my family on engagement or VDP views. I need to sell a car!
Follow the Money
As I’ve written too many times to count, dealers should follow the money when they’re reading anything written for the automotive industry (including this article). The guy who sells _________ will tell you that you need more ________ to be successful. (Sometimes, he even includes a few stats his company conjured up to help prove his point.)
Every “The Leads Are Dead” story I’ve read is written by someone selling Engagement, Traffic, VDPs, Exposure or some other quasi-measurable, loosely-correlated “sales” metric. All I can say is “follow the money.”
Let’s be perfectly clear: Without the lead, you are lucky to sell a car.
The 39% You Can Control
According to a 2015 study by DrivingSales, 61% of buyers make zero contact with your team before arriving on your lot.
Those selling “engagement” will argue that they are the reason the 61% arrived. I’ll argue more simply that you got lucky you sold these people a car. Think about it. The other 39% – the ones willing to initiate contact with you prior to arrival (that is, submit a lead or call you) – you can control. But, you have no control over the 61% until they arrive on your lot… at least, we’re hoping our online “engagement” was sufficient enough to compel them to drop everything and visit us.
But… there are no guarantees.
Let’s look at new cars. Even if you're the lowest price online and have great reviews and enjoy more than your share of “engagement,” there's no guarantee you're going to be the first or even second dealer that a consumer visits once they’re ready to buy. It’s just as likely that they're going to take your price to one of your competitors just to see if they can beat it. (There are plenty of studies that tell us consumers look at more than twenty different sources of information before they buy. I think it’s safe to assume at least a couple of those sources contain competitive information.)
Moreover, what if you’re a BMW, Toyota or Honda dealer and you’re restricted from advertising your lowest price online? Without the lead, you’re lucky to sell a car.
Or, in the words I imagine those hip, anti-lead writers might use: The Lead is the Shizznizzle!
I Want To Grow My 39%
If I were you, I’d want to do everything I could to grow my leads – especially if I buy into the hip writers’ arguments that fewer people are submitting leads. The fact is, without a lead, you're lucky to get the sale. You should be doing everything you can to generate more leads, including from your own website!
If you’re with me on this, I have two free resources that I know will help you generate more leads from your existing website traffic: