Service Providers

Alleviate form dysfunction: Get more out of your online leads

Bob McCann 2011We’ve all done it. You fill out a form on a website, click submit and then … nothing.

According to an ARI online secret-shopper study, of forms submitted at 1,370 dealer websites, a shocking 47 percent of leads went unanswered. Of the 53 percent of dealers who did follow up, only 24 percent attempted to call the prospect. And it took dealers an average of 30.5 hours to respond to the leads.

How long do you let a customer who walks in your store wait before you approach them? Can you imagine asking them to stick around until tomorrow to sell them the bike they’re interested in today? That would be insane — nearly as crazy as never following up when a website visitor shows genuine interest in your inventory.

Follow these best practices to improve your online lead conversions and sell more bikes:

Treat online leads like in-store customers. While they may not be shopping in your brick-and-mortar location, an online shopper who submits a lead has shown genuine interest in that brand new motorcycle the in-store shopper who just told you, “I’m just looking,” is currently kicking the tires on. This online lead has raised their hand and told you “I’m just looking” at buying this unit!  What are you waiting for?

When you receive an online lead, respond within minutes, not hours. An auto-responder email is a good start for marketing purposes, but it doesn’t count as your first follow-up — a real-life human being needs to get involved pronto. Start by setting a goal of a 120-minute average response time, and implement a plan of action to reduce that to 90 minutes, then 60 and finally 30.

Pick up the phone. An introductory email is an effective tool for the initial meet and greet. Use it to thank the prospect for their inquiry, briefly and directly answer their questions and set the stage for a phone call.

If the prospect hasn’t included a phone number, use your introductory email to explain that you’d like to call to further assist them in their search and offer them your direct line.

Once on the phone, you have three goals: You need to build rapport, learn more about their wants/needs, and most importantly, schedule an appointment. Be direct and to the point when answering their questions, and move the conversation to a series of engaging open-ended questions that could include:

  • How long have you been riding?
  • What do you like about your current ride?  What don’t you like?
  • What specific models are you interested in?
  • Who do you ride with (spouse, children, friends, clubs, etc.)?
  • How many miles do your ride each year?
  • Do you just ride locally, or do you plan on doing any touring?
  • Any gear upgrades as you’re moving on to your new ride?
  • When would you like to come in and see our inventory and take your favorite bikes for a spin, this weekend or next week?

Be patient and follow up consistently. That final question is not optional! If you don’t get a yes on your first ask, don’t be discouraged, but don’t be too pushy. A thoughtful follow-up process can nurture your lead so that when they’re ready to buy, they come to your store, not your competition’s!

Though it’s tempting to picture a potential buyer signing a check the minute they inquire about a new motorcycle, the journey to the dotted line can take weeks, if not months. An incoming lead often marks only the beginning of a series of conversations to convince prospects to choose your dealership.

Follow up weekly for the first 30 days, then schedule 12 more personal touch points for the remainder of the year. Each contact should be designed to maintain an open, personalized dialogue, so that you remain at the front of a prospect’s mind throughout the buying process. Specials, new unit arrivals and events are great excuses to reach back out.


Automate your lead management. Without the proper technology tools in place, it would be nearly impossible to efficiently and effectively collect, nurture and ultimately convert leads. With an organized, partially automated lead management strategy, you’ll drive more traffic online and in-store and generate more sales over time.

Bob McCann is ARI’s director of education. ARI creates award-winning software solutions that help equipment manufacturers, distributors and dealers Sell More Stuff! — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in automotive tire and wheel, powersports, outdoor power equipment, marine, RV and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage our website and eCatalog platforms to Sell More Stuff!

 Contact:; 877-806-2150


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