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© 2018 by Retain Media. 

  • Brian Sullivan

Best Practice: Lead Management

Updated: Apr 11, 2019



A website is a key asset of any dealership.


10 years ago the average car buyer visited 5 dealers on the path to purchase. By 2017 this had dropped to 1.2 visits!


Buyers today are time poor and don't go from dealer to dealer to do their research. The do the majority of their research online and the dealership website is now the key asset for generating leads.


In Auto Deloitte benchmarks dealers and below is the 2019 data around lead origin.

Lead Origin. Source: Deloitte Dealership Benchmarks 2019

As you can see from the above the dealer website contributes to 77% of leads on new vehicles and 22% of used leads.


In the motorbikes, caravans, ag, trucks, construction and marine industries too many dealers have gone for a website as a box ticking exercise.


A dealer or for that matter and OEMs marketing has done a great job in getting users to visit the site but too many are missing out on potential leads due to poor sites that haven’t been built to covert browsers into leads.


Unfortunately, this is only part of the issue I have seen. Once a dealer gets a lead, they need to respond to it quickly.


Again, in auto the best staff / dealers are responding to leads within 10 minutes:


Lead Response time. Source: Deloitte Dealership Benchmarks 2019

Too many leads are being left 24 hours+ before being responded to (and some not even responded to at all).


According to Inside Sales the first 5 minutes is key.

Speed of Response impacts conversions. Source: Inside Sales

The quicker the lead is responded to the higher likelihood of a conversion.


If we go back to the start. Buyers are doing the majority of their research online.


This potentially means that when they get to the point of submitting leads they may be submitting multiple leads at the same time. If a buyer has submitted leads to multiple dealerships and the other respond quickly and book appointments those dealers who are slow to respond will miss out.


The flip side of this is if a dealer responds quickly potentially they can stop the prospect submitting leads to other dealers and essentially own the customer.


A dealer should also have a response process that includes multiple contact attempts within the first week. Don't give up if you cant get in contact the first or second attempt. An example could be:

  • Auto response email that goes to all leads as soon as a lead is submitted

  • Phone call to prospect within first 10 minutes followed up by an email

  • Phone call again later in the day.

  • Call again at a different time the next day.

  • Email or text prospect saying you have tried to call multiple times, and will try again at a certain time the next day.

  • Call again at said time

The above is a very simple lead handling process with 7 contacts within the first 4 days.


Once contact the prospect need to be qualified. Some qualifying questions can include:


  • What made you enquire on this vehicle?

  • When are you looking to buy?

  • Do you have a trade in? and

  • What is your budget?

Sales people are like lightening. They look for the path of least resistance to a sale. These 4 qualifying questions can help identify vehicles that are more suited to the prospect and more importantly identify opportunities to upsell.

Underpinning success has to be documentation. What happened, when and by who.


For a Owner, GM or DP understanding what is happening to your prospects is key to improving results in the dealership. Every contact and stage need to be documented and time stamped. This will give insight into the dealership including:

  • Closing rate by sales person

  • Number of contacts needed per appointment

  • Are leads being closed out too soon?

  • if deals fall over why? is it price, product, finance, trade etc. etc.

This will help refine the sales process and identify problems within the dealership.



If there is only one take out from the above it would be this - follow up leads quickly and repeatedly.