It is important for your Internet operation to be up to speed so you can be one of the winners in the race for market leadership.

I have outlined a quarterly performance checklist so you can measure key areas to make sure you're on track.

Lead Quality Review

Quality leads are essential if you hope to first contact, then appoint and then sell. The best leads typically come from true intenders who are willing to provide accurate data to assist the lead source or dealership with their inquiry.

A consistent impediment to success is when a lead source desperate for revenue has a low barrier for submitting requests for information. That results in dealers getting leads from people who are not particularly serious shoppers.

The first step in checking lead quality is to talk with the representative of the lead source and find out where they generate the leads they sell to your dealership.

Dig deep and ask them to click through the sites where the leads come from, and learn what the customer experiences so you can see what motivated them to submit.

You may be surprised to learn that most new-vehicle leads come from an aggregated mix with a variety of quality levels. Press your representative to provide the best. If you are concerned with this, consider using lead-scoring tools offered by TrilogySmartLeads or Polk.

Check the quality firsthand. Click through your lead management or customer-relationship management system and ensure that a majority of the leads have phone numbers that actually work, emails that can be delivered and information that can be acted upon. If you try to contact some prospects by phone, you may find that the quality is better than you expect. A nice survey format on the call is generally well received by the prospect.

Process Review

Ask your Internet team to guide you through their follow-up process.

Rather than conduct a review without involving your sales team, ask them to lead you through the review and use it as an opportunity to learn from them and to coach them.

Dealers who use this approach have much greater insight into what concerns their Internet sales team. It allows you to earn your stripes by sitting with them as they show you.

This should not be a “gotcha” event, but one where you can genuinely exchange good ideas. See if the communications style is appropriate to your dealership, whether customer's questions are addressed properly and how price is presented.

Of course, you will want to review their level of pursuit and count how many actions were taken to motivate a connection with the prospect — phone, email, text, mail, video, etc. The important thing is to stay in contact until they buy or unsubscribe.

Measure your sales manager's involvement in the process.

Unfortunately, even today with so little walk in traffic we still see sales managers resisting the Internet sales process. When I was a sales manager, I always kept in mind that I was the manager of all sales, not just the floor and the phone but also fleet, commercial and Internet.

Your manager should be scheduled in for phone calls and emails etc. at strategic times in the process to provide the change of voice that customers appreciate. Everyone likes talking to the boss and your manager should take advantage of this strategy.

Marketing Review

For a website review, a quick run through will allow you to verify if inventory is well displayed with quality photos and descriptions and on the market pricing. Make sure specials are in place and current for all departments.

Check the links to make sure they all work and that the phone numbers ring the right person and that emails reach the right inbox. Check the staff pages for personnel changes, and ensure that testimonials from customers are timely. This will be the easiest task and the one you will learn the most from.

Then there's the classified sites review. These site are where you spend the big bucks and you need to make certain you have quality photos, descriptions and on the market pricing.

Finally, check your search-engine efforts. Be sure you show up well for logical search terms in your market with both search-engine optimization and search-engine management placement.

There are many more items you can check, but these are the main ones to focus on to ensure the best ongoing results.

David Kain is president of the consulting firm KainAutomotive.com Internet Training and Solutions. He can be reached at david@kainautomotive.com 1-866-546-3428.

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