DrivingSales President’s Club Key Takeaways: Importance of Initial Quality Response

By: Tim Hickle

emailWelcome back! For those who aren’t yet familiar, this is the 2nd post in a 3-part blog series highlighting my key takeaways from the DrivingSales Presidents Club’s “Most Valuable Insight Competition.”


In today’s post, I’ll be discussing takeaways from a presentation by Alan Bird of SCI MarketView, where he provides valuable insights on the importance of dealers responding appropriately via e-mail to consumers who have engaged with their marketing.


Essentially, the main point that Alan is trying to get across is that carefully manicured, quality responses almost always mean higher close rates. To prove his point, over 2,000 online dealer responses were reviewed and scored based on the quality of their response and closely observed their close rates. ß- It says “our” so I’m assuming it’s SCI. Not using names.


In order to attain a high quality score, a dealer’s response would have to meet the following criteria. It’s worth noting that missing even one of these could have a detrimental effect on conversion:


  1. Subject line/Introduction/Greeting – Self-explanatory. Explain who you are and why you’re contacting the consumer.
  2. Vehicle proposition & availability – Explain what’s readily available and what you can offer to the consumer.
  3. Answered/Asked a Quality Question – Either provide information they might be looking for or ask them what they want.
  4. Price range or Incentive range quotes – Provide clear pricing to take the guesswork out.
  5. Dealership value proposition/signature – Offer something of value – whether it’s a tangible offer or not. Explain what makes your dealership successful and then provide your contact information.

Once all the dealer’s responses were graded thoroughly, he came back with 3 key takeaways from the entire process:


1. Better Quality Responses = Better Results.Alan’s original hypothesis was that quality responses often equated to better conversions (or close rates). Well, it turns out he was totally correct!On a scale between -20 and 100 (-20 being the absolutely lowest and 100 being the absolute highest), dealer responses were graded and their corresponding close rates were compared to one another. Out of the 2,000 e-mail responses, 59 had an average score of 90.3% with a 16.95% close rate. On the other end of the spectrum, 310 responses with an average score of -15.0% saw a close rate of 3.23%. This is a HUGE discovery.


2. Train Your Sales People and Look at Response Deterrents.Despite what it seems, poor quality responses don’t mean that your guys are “lazy” or “don’t care.” If anything, it could mean the opposite. They don’t want to be too pushy and they certainly don’t want to bore the customer to tears. Train your salespeople on how to craft a proper response; and more importantly, explain why it’s crucial for increased close rates. Considering 29.5% of the responses observed had a quality score of 0 or less, training is never a bad idea. If anything, it might even reinforce old ideas and make already strong responses, even stronger!


3. Hold Everyone AccountableTo ensure that your sales team are sending out quality responses, everyone there needs to be held accountable. Assign someone to observe customer interactions and do “quality control” simply allows for a better understanding of why certain results are or aren’t being achieved. It’s also important for everyone to learn from one another; so remaining on the same page is crucial for success.


In the end, Bird implores that you “treat your online leads like showroom customers to win!” Just because a customer hasn’t entered a showroom yet doesn’t mean they won’t. Their first impression of you often isn’t in-person, so your initial responses really do matter.


Be sure to come back next week for our final installment of “Most Valuable Insight” takeaways! If you have any questions until then or you want to discuss PERQ services, call (800) 873-3117.