Top 5 Lead Management Practices to Close More Appointments

by Taylor Loethen | Jan 17, 2023

Before we can influence our digital customer’s emotional journey, we must first understand the purpose of a lead.

By definition, to lead is to go before, to show the way. As a noun, a lead is the position in advance of others. Therefore, a digital lead is a customer that expresses interest and/or intent to purchase digitally.

The digital customer’s journey begins the moment the customer identifies a want or a need and their journey continues until they make a purchase. 

When we break down a customer’s journey, it falls into these stages

  1. Awareness and Discovery
  2. Consideration
  3. Purchase
  4. Retention 
  5. Advocacy

The customer will decide on either purchasing from your location or not depending on how every interaction with your brand makes them feel within each of those five stages. Customers tend to purchase on emotion - when emotion and logic are present, what wins? Emotion; hence why it is imperative to influence the customer’s emotional journey. 

Best Practice #1

Start with Purpose. Understand the purpose of a lead and why it is so important to your sales process and goals. Be purposeful in the experience that you provide digitally. You wouldn’t let a customer go without being greeted in your physical showroom, why should a digital customer go without being greeted in your physical showroom? 

➡️Action: Review your dealership’s inventory page. Is your inventory up to date? Do you have old units that are long-gone? Do you have stock photos or real photos? Clean up your inventory page. Ensure your inventory is up-to-date with real photos, accurate information and compelling details to capture interest. This heavily influences a customer’s emotional journey.

Best Practice #2

Understand the customer’s emotional journey. When you understand their journey, you can properly nurture it. When a customer submits a lead, they have already made the internal decision that they want to buy. Where and when they buy is influenced by their digital experience. Communication touchpoints are critical at every stage, from end to end.  Impressions are made in the first 10 seconds. What impression are you setting? 

➡️Action: Review the customer journey with your team. Identify ways to influence their emotional journey in every stage. Update process and cascade. 

Best Practice #3 

Differentiate between sales and non-sales leads and know how to respond properly. When a digital lead is received, before making the outbound call, preview the lead. Who is inquiring? Are they a current customer or prospective customer? What are they inquiring about? Is it a sales lead or a non-sales lead? Is the unit they inquired about available? Gather the answers quickly so you can speak intelligently about their inquiry and next steps. 

Respond in under 10 minutes. This may seem like a feat if you are currently responding in under 48 hours. Make it your mission to incrementally decrease your response time - 48 hours, 24 hours, 12 hours, 6 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour, 30 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes. The likelihood of connecting with a customer is 10 times more likely if you respond in under 5 minutes. Responding in under 2 minutes can lead to 391% more conversions. 

Determine the customer’s buying intent. Are they looking to purchase today? This month? This year? In 10 years? This information tells you how to respond and nurture the lead properly. 

➡️Action: Identify your current lead response time. Establish a goal and timeline to decrease your response time incrementally to under 10 minutes or less. 

Best Practice #4

Understand basic communication practices. There is a difference between a phone conversation and a text conversation. A phone call is live. You must be knowledgeable and ready to engage. The customer can hear how you feel in your voice. Are you excited or blah? Are you asking probing questions or giving short answers? How you communicate on the phone heavily influences a customer’s emotional journey. 

Determine the customer’s communication preference. Meet them where they are at. Do they want to communicate via phone or text? If a customer prefers to text, build the relationship, follow up consistently, earn the phone call and ultimately set the appointment. 

Be honest, accurate and compelling. No matter what the communication preference of the customer is, always be honest, accurate and compelling. If a customer asks if a unit is still available, be honest. Don’t use the cliche “bait and switch” method. If the customer asks for the mileage, gather the exact mileage, better yet, take a photo of the odometer, and send it to the customer. If the customer is sharing their life dream of owning this particular vehicle and the stories to support it, engage; be empathetic, agree with them, ask questions, and build a relationship. Do what you say you are going to do. This builds a powerful, compelling desire for the customer to want to move forward with their purchase and YOU.

Lastly, no “bros”, no slang, no acronyms. Be professional and respectful. 

➡️Action: Review your word tracks. Are you asking the customer how they wish to communicate? Are you being honest, accurate and compelling? Are you being empathetic and asking probing questions? Focus on building the relationship and the sales will follow.  

Best Practice #5

Build Value in the appointment. When you ask probing questions, the customer will tell you what’s most important to them. Capitalize on their responses and influence the next step. Use expert language - “here’s what I would suggest, recommend, advise…”. Nudge them closer to the appointment. 

Build value in a no-pressure VIP appointment. Meet the team. Check out the inventory. Find the right fit. Understand the process before making the commitment. 

Identify the optimal time. Mid-week, early afternoon? Great choice! There are fewer people and more focus on you. 

Confirm and reconfirm the appointment. Ask the customer to make the commitment - “If you cannot make it, will you promise to let me know so we can reschedule?”. The psychology behind “promise” will often ensure the customer will communicate. Confirm again the day of - “We are looking forward to your visit! [Vehicle] is clean and full of gas with your name on it!”

➡️Action: Make a list of compelling reasons for an appointment that can quickly be referenced based on a customer’s response. Build value in the appointment, communicate and confirm. 

Influencing the customer’s emotional journey is not hard, but is delicate. We must be patient and not rush their journey. With the right training and processes, we can provide exceptional digital experiences that ensure retention and advocacy. 

To learn more about the top five best practices to influence the emotional journey and how you can track and measure your efficiency and performance in your business, please contact Travis Winkleman at


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