How to Respond to Digital Leads

Timing, presence and tools are all critical.

We live in an age where being the first dealership to respond to a customer means that more than half of them will choose you — based on speed alone. So how quickly do you turn digital leads into sales? The old way of selling a motorcycle or powersports unit, where customers had no other option than to browse inventory on the lot, estimate what options they could afford and complete paperwork manually, has been around for quite some time. While it may work, as times progress, standards are changing. Digital leads are becoming more and more prominent, and in order for you to optimize each potential deal, you need to know how to handle them.

Technology has caused many shifts. Whether you find they’re for better or for worse, the fact is society now expects convenience, speed and flexibility like never before. In fact, research says that unlike the past, where people would walk in and gather information, nowadays, they do their research before they even step foot into a dealership.

Adjacent industries report that:

  • Twice as many people start their research online versus at the dealership.1
  • Over the past decade, total dealership visits per purchase have declined from 4 to 1.4.2

This means your online leads must be dealt with the right way, or you run the risk that these future customers may never come into your dealership at all.

Timing Matters

If you’ve ever played a sports game, invested in stock or had a medical emergency, you know this to be true. Timing can mean life or death. Whether it’s the game-winning buzzer-beater, the difference between financial stability and crisis or quite literally your survival, taking too long can cost you greatly. However, while this is very apparent in these situations, when it comes to responding to digital leads, some things just aren’t clear. For example, we know that leads need to be dealt with in a timely manner, but what is considered timely? Is it minutes, hours or days? If you continue using vague, ambiguous statements instead of establishing clearly defined goals and expectations, it won’t matter whether you know what needs to change. Results will fail to materialize until you define as a team what your standards are.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Time kills deals,” but think about it. If you call a restaurant to make a reservation and it doesn’t pick up, there’s a good chance you’ll choose somewhere else, right? The logic that applies to a customer in that situation applies here as well: Why wait around for a response when someone else will respond to you now? If you are weak when it comes to lead responses, struggling to connect in a fast, consistent, engaging manner, then by the time you contact the lead, your customer may have already found an alternative solution. The bottom line is: Taking days to respond just won’t cut it. Stats show the faster you respond to your leads, the better.

In fact:

  • 78% of customers buy from the company that responds to their inquiries first.3
  • A recent Harvard study showed that you are nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead when you attempt to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later — and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.4

So, if you want to stop losing deals from a simple lack of speed, it’s time to set some standards. Choose a designated time that everyone must respond by. Further, don’t just tell your staff — monitor it. Track your lead response time and find any barriers that are causing delays. Decide. Monitor. Enforce.


Sell Across Multiple Channels

Secondly, you must pay attention to the channels you use to move the purchase forward. What communication and selling mediums are you currently utilizing? The critical takeaway is that nowadays, it’s not enough to simply provide the product customers desire — such as the bike they want to buy; you also have to offer an experience that feels easy to them. This means offering your products at the customer’s ultimate convenience: using the channels of their choice.

If the customer wants you to text him or her a payment link, do you have the means to make that possible? In order for your digital leads to become sales, you must meet the customer wherever he or she is at. After all, 72% of consumers say they would prefer to connect with businesses and brands through a multichannel approach.5

Just as someone who shares similar interests with you may have a higher chance of crossing your path, whether you run into each other at the gym or a local coffee shop, you can increase your chances of reaching customers by being present on their preferred channels. Yet, not only is it important to optimize your chances by utilizing multiple channels, but once you provide these channels, it’s key to manage with a uniform approach.

This is another reason a lead response platform can be very effective. At every opportunity where the customer comes across your dealership, whether it be your website, a text message or your social media, you need to provide a consistent representation. Every marketplace — your physical store, your Facebook or directly on your website — must portray you in a clear, uniform manner. You must offer multiple mediums for moving the purchase forward while still keeping things streamlined, consistent and simple when shifting from channel to channel.

Use Organizational Tools

Imagine the entirety of your dealership’s data is being kept track of manually. Your employees are managing everything on their phones, and there’s no clear system, structure or organization. As a result, things are lost and often overlooked. On top of this, employees quit, taking information with them. The effort required is challenging, not to mention taxing on your outcomes. But is there a remedy?

In order to have the best chance at converting digital leads into sales, you must prioritize organization. Any effective dealership needs to be organized. How are you going to offer each customer an exceptional experience if you’re struggling to keep straight who they are, what they want and where their information is? Without a strategy or platform to help implement a plan, disorganization leads to slower responses and makes offering multiple buying channels chaotic and confusing, rather than easy and useful to the customer.

A good solution is a business messaging platform. Instead of a continual struggle that affects not only you but your customers as well, when you implement tools, you make things clear and easy on both ends. Organization reduces the stress and hassle of finding missing information and increases the likelihood of spotting errors. When information is connected in one place, finding what you need becomes easier, spurring on prompt responses. Dealerships that streamline their procedures improve their productivity, customer service and overall performance.

Quit putting up a ladder and failing to climb it. If you want your dealership to reach new levels, you need to adopt a proactive and strategic approach to your digital lead responses. Rather than responding as soon as it’s convenient for your sales team, set defined standards. Meet your customers where they’re at, and make things simple for them to commit to by offering multiple communication and shopping channels. Finally, stop losing deals from a lack of organization. When you implement tools to help achieve success in these areas, you will see growth. The errors and overlooked data on your part will begin to diminish, and due to a faster, more flexible experience, customer satisfaction will begin to grow — both of which lead to more deals.

1How automotive websites can improve their user experience, User Testing, 2023

2The Definitive Guide to Automotive Digital Retailing: Secret Tips, Checklists & Steps to Implement, AutoFi, 2021

3The Modern Rules of Lead Response Time, Lean Data, 2022

4The Short Life of Online Sales Leads, Harvard Business Review

5Essential Multichannel Marketing Statistics In 2024, ZipDo, 2023

You May Also Like

Elevating Your Sales Game Through Parts Packaging

Breaking down the art and science of a well-designed, customer-focused, profit-friendly parts package.

Good parts managers are a rare breed. We are among the few who enjoy flipping through paper catalogs and covering them with notes. We love seeing how other companies merchandise shelves. We are always absorbing different sales techniques and wondering if we could use them too.

In that vein, when it comes to continuing to boost our numbers post-COVID, I have a few strategies for you to try. It might sound odd, but not everyone can remember that most winches need a winch mount. Or that certain winches require a hidden harness stored at the bottom of a book (hello, Can-Am). Or that Honda has split its winch harness between the winch and the mount. If you don't want service techs to hate you, you need to order both part numbers or else face their wrath.

Unleash Your Experts: How to Be a Long-Tail Resource for Powersports Enthusiasts

Closing deals and providing service are a dealer’s bread and butter, but your dealership has far more to offer.

dealership employees
Building a Growth Stategy With a Powersports Playbook

Success isn’t a fluke, and it’s not luck. It’s a strategy.

Fostering an F&I Culture That Sells

Dealership success hinges on the ability to cultivate a strong F&I culture.

Increasing Profits Through Accessorizing

Go out and find the units to dress up — there’s lots of extra profit to be made.

Other Posts

Q&A: Powersports Consumer Sentiment Forecast for 2024

Consumers aren’t delaying purchases because of the economy, but they’re still looking for deals.

motorcycle, money, wallet, consumer, customer
Nothing But Good Vibes at Santa Barbara Motorsports

Santa Barbara Motorsports is working to make every door swing count.

Santa Barbara Motorsports
Talking Fork Seal Technology with Corteco’s Andrew Ciszczon and Allen Jones

Corteco specializes in seals that make motorcycle forks perform better.

To E-Bike or Not to E-Bike?

When it comes to e-bikes, it’s the wild, wild West out there.