How many times have you heard someone say, “We didn’t sell anything from that program,” or my personal favorite, “The leads were just bad”? These are common complaints from dealers whose latest lead-generation program or service failed to generate new business. But the problem isn’t necessarily the leads. It could be the Lead Goblin stealing them before you can turn them into sales.

Who or what is the Lead Goblin, you ask? He is the manifestation of the faulty processes that trick you into thinking your providers are to blame for “bad” leads. He’s a crafty fellow who is always looking for new ways to steal leads before you even see them. The Lead Goblin exists, and he’s much craftier than you might think.

The Perfect Crime
Here’s how the Lead Goblin works: A new product or service is installed to generate leads. It is designed to deliver them directly to your customer relationship management (CRM) system. That’s a smart move because it eliminates having to have someone input the data. It is not a smart move to have those leads delivered to the CRM without an additional crosscheck in place. That gives the Goblin an opportunity to steal your leads. Here are three recent, true stories from dealer friends of mine who fell victim to his mischief:

The Case of the Missing Multitude: One dealer installed a new CRM system and decided that’s where he wanted all new leads to be delivered. Two weeks into the program, a spot check found that the program had generated 30 leads in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, to the dealer’s horror, only half were in their system. The Lead Goblin had struck! The missing leads had been sent to the CRM; however, the CRM wasn’t set up to accept them properly until a week after the leads had started to arrive. Luckily, the dealer was able to retrieve the leads from the provider and put them back in the system, but we all know how fast leads can go from hot to cold.

The Case of the Suspected Spam: Another dealer knew that his new program was generating a high volume of leads, but a routine check revealed that several had not been contacted. Further investigation revealed that the leads were not in the CRM, so the BDC had not had the opportunity to work them. After a week’s worth of missing leads were isolated and ultimately found, the dealer learned that the CRM had dumped them in a spam folder and failed to process them.

The Case of the Disconnected Caller: A third dealer checked his CRM for a specific lead his BDC had tried to call several times. The CRM said the car buyer’s number was disconnected. We picked up the phone, called the customer and got through on the first try. What the heck? It turned out he had submitted a lead on two occasions. The first time, he left his old number, which had been disconnected. But when he called from his new number, the caller ID picked it up. The new number never made it to the CRM, however, so when the customer submitted a second lead with his new number, the CRM didn’t recognize it. The dealer adjusted his processes to ensure that caller IDs are ported correctly, duplicate leads are checked for new data and customer files are updated regularly.

In each of these cases, the Lead Goblin was able to steal leads because the dealer’s processes failed. The best way to keep him out is to frequently log into the dashboard provided by the lead-generation system and check their totals against your CRM totals. Most dealers don’t like to use vendor dashboards because they don’t want to log into 15 different dashboards a day. I can’t say that I blame them, but there is a simple way to avoid that: Have your leads emailed to a non-CRM address so you can run a crosscheck. Assign a staffer to run checks on a weekly basis so the Lead Goblin never has a chance to infiltrate your dealership.

Knowing that you receive all the leads and lead information you are generating will eliminate one problem. You may still get leads that don’t turn into sales, but that’s a topic for another day.

Harlene Doane is COO at Used Car University and organizer of the annual Used Car University Convention. She is the former editor of Auto Dealer Monthly and an expert in dealership accounting and operations.
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