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Four Common Problems with Internet Lead Handling and Sales Processes

By Chad Carr, Rainmaker Consulting

I am excited about the opportunity to write for this website because I see so many misconceptions about Internet Leads and how they fit into a company’s marketing and sales process.

As a consultant to Housing Retailers for almost twenty years, I have been in hundreds of dealerships. In almost every one of those dealerships there has been a need to improve the process sales people use for handling leads, especially Internet leads.

When I first met the principals at ManufacturedHomeSource.com, I was very excited about their ability to deliver Internet Leads to a dealership. But it quickly became apparent that even dealers with a good sales process in place had no idea what to do with Internet leads.

It is not unusual for a salesperson to come up to me at a dealership when the boss isn’t around and start complaining about the stack of garbage leads he is supposed to be working from the Internet. In most of these cases, it takes only a little bit of questioning to identify why the salesperson has this attitude. I can promise you it is never that the Internet Leads weren’t actually good leads.

Let me share a few reasons for these negative attitudes:

Age – In sales there is a saying, “The older they are the colder they are”. Why would anyone think its okay to let Internet Leads sit around for days before we get back to them?

Research shows that customers will lose 50% of their interest in a company or product within 3 hours of their initial inquiry. Yet, as an industry, we average five days before getting back to an Internet lead. That’s terrible.

If a salesperson is handed leads that are old, they are going to be disappointed when they call those leads. Likewise, if they are handed new leads and sit on them for a few days, they will not be happy with their results when they finally do get around to calling.

This makes total sense. If I left you a phone message asking you to call me about the product you are selling and you waited several days before you called me, you would expect the cold shoulder from me. Don’t let this happen to you – call your Internet Leads as fast as possible.

Wrong Expectations – Many times when salespeople call Internet Leads they have the expectation they will be talking to someone who is ready to buy a house.

This can happen, but more often than not, Internet Leads are contacting dealers very early in their decision making process. If you suddenly move into the selling mode with someone you have never met and who is not ready to be sold, you are going to put them off.

As strange as this might sound, the number one thing customers are looking for on the Internet is someone with whom they can build a relationship. Your job as a salesperson is to develop a relationship with that lead first. Selling them a house will come later, but only if you have a good relationship.

Lack of Training – Almost everyone agrees it is important to train salespeople. Dealers send salespeople to factories to gain product knowledge; they send them to sales training to learn a sales process; they may even do some basic telephone skills work with them. However, dealers almost never invest any time or money to train their sales people what to do with an Internet Lead.

For example, if you are responding to an Internet Lead, it is likely you will have to write e-mail. Have you been trained on how to write a good e-mail? Do you know what to include and what to leave out of these e-mails? Do you now how to use the spell check and grammar check features of your e-mail system?

With the Internet, dealerships have a completely new way of collecting and communicating with leads. Dealers need to invest in training their people on how to use this new tool to build relationships and make sales.

Lack of a Process – If a sales manager hands a salesperson a stack of leads and says “See what you can do with these” the whole endeavor is going to be doomed. Every dealership needs to have a written and well-designed process for handling Internet Leads.

This process needs to address how quickly you will respond, how often you will respond, what you will do if the customer doesn’t return your calls, how you will answer the question “What’s the price” and much, much more.

A lot of my work these days is centered on helping dealerships put together an effective process for working with Internet Leads and then training their people how to use that process.

I will try to share some of that information through this blog, but if you would like to get started with your process, I would recommend coming to my free webinar entitled, “Unlocking the Secrets of the Internet”. Send an e-mail to chad@getRain.com and I will let you know when the next webinar will be held.

Chad Carr is the President of Rainmaker Consulting, a second-generation family business that provides Retail Management Software and Consulting Services for the Housing, RV and Trailer markets.

Rainmaker works with dealers ranging in size from five to six people up to some of the biggest and most well recognized names in the industry. For more information about their services, visit their web-site at www.getRain.com or contact Chad at (800) 336-0339 or chad@getRain.com.

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