Service Providers

Internet inquiries: Respond by e-mail or telephone?

More than 80 percent of today’s motorcycle shoppers visit a Web site before visiting a dealership, so we shouldn’t be surprised as more and more shoppers’ first contact with a dealership is by Internet/e-mail too. Successful dealerships have a defined process in place to handle Internet/e-mail leads, but is the “best practice” to respond by e-mail or by telephone?

Some experts argue that since the customer contacted the dealership by Internet/e-mail, the response should come by e-mail too. Others argue the most effective selling only begins with a phone conversation. What’s the correct answer?

First of all, before we get to the answer, a reminder that the single highest predictor of a dealership making the most of an Internet/e-mail lead is a timely response. The most successful dealerships consistently respond within 30 “business” minutes, often first with an automated e-mail response introducing (and selling) the dealership, followed shortly by a brief personal e-mail answering the prospect’s specific questions.

But back to our question: Response by e-mail or by telephone? The best practices answer is “both.” First treat the lead as if no telephone number was provided and send an e-mail answering any questions. But also immediately follow-up with a phone call, not to obviously sell, but simply to let the customer know that you sent a response to him and you want to be sure that your message made it through the customer’s spam filter. The result is a positive first impression even if the customer doesn’t have time to talk. Many times the customer will voluntarily begin a conversation that will lead to a visit to your dealership.

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  1. I am curious where you got your statistics in this article–80% etc. and “single biggest predictor…” Thank you, I enjoyed the article.
    Joan Rippe

  2. Thanks for the question Joan. Two different answers…

    First, the 80% statistic isn’t Pied Piper’s; it is simply an average borrowed from one manufacturer’s research.

    Your second question was about the “single biggest predictor” of internet sales success which we mention is a timely response. This fact comes from Pied Piper’s own internet sales process research, where the experiences of “real” buyers were first measured and tied to sales success. Those findings are then used to allow Pied Piper to measure those specific behaviors using “mystery shoppers.” There’s more about this unique approach, (Pied Piper has a pending business methods patent for it), at

    Back to your question, for internet mystery shopping Pied Piper measures 19 different specific sales behaviors, but timeliness is the one most closely predictive of sales success.

    Merry Christmas everyone,

    Fran O’Hagan

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