Ford Tries To Tame Flood Of Net Sales Leads - InformationWeek

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Ford Tries To Tame Flood Of Net Sales Leads

Ford Motor Co. is rolling out Web services to let dealers bettermanage and more quickly respond to the soaring volume of sales prospects that arrive from myriad online vehicle lead-referral sites.

Ford is using DealerPoint online customer-management software provided by Microsoft's CarPoint lead-referral service on its new ServicePoint Web site. Starting this summer, the Web site and software will serve as a central location to let domestic Ford, Lincoln Mercury, and Volvo dealers access, respond to, and track all online customer leads.

Many dealers can find themselves swamped by referrals from such sites as Autobytel, AutoWeb, and CarPoint. The result often is long response times and difficulty tracking the prospects.

"Many dealers have been caught off guard by the high volume of leads they've received from the Net," says Chris DeNove, an analyst with J.D. Power and Associates. The old paper-and-pencil method of tracking them doesn't work anymore. "The answer is to abandon their old habits and use lead-management systems such as CarPoint's."

With custom DealerPoint software on Ford's ServicePoint site, dealers use a browser to remotely check for leads from online services and sites, view all information entered by customers on an online form, and respond quickly via E-mail. The site also features tools that let dealers track if and how they handled each lead and check performance.

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