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CDK Global’s ‘Language of Closers’ Wins Most Valuable Insight Competition

July 22, 2016 0 Comments


CDK Global was awarded the Most Valuable Insights Award at DrivingSales Presidents Club 2016, more research will be released at DSES October 23-25.

The widespread adoption of digital communication methods has changed the communication landscape. We live in a world of increasingly informal exchanges, critiques of children’s weakened writing skills, and even self-help books aimed to help readers reclaim the “art of conversation.” Who hasn’t contemplated their phone or computer screen and then looked to a friend or colleague with the question, “How do I respond to this?”

This evolution has also greatly impacted the way car dealers are introduced to shoppers in the form of lead services and other network-driven capabilities. According to insight from Dataium, in 2015 the average dealer website had around 4,800 unique visitors per month and 1.9 percent of these visitors submitted a lead form. While 1.9 percent may seem low, that is still over 90 shoppers each month raising their hand for assistance – waiting for a response from the dealership!

These valuable interactions are oftentimes approached with inconsistency, facelessness, or flippant processes designed to capture personal information versus actually supporting the shopper’s process. CDK Global recently utilized a field of computer science called sentiment analysis and used natural language processing of actual dealership lead responses to take a deep dive on the dealer’s question, “How do I respond to this?”

Does a carefully crafted response impact close rates?

The obvious answer is yes, but insights from the researchers indicate it isn’t as simple as packing positive and enthusiastic language in lead responses.

Jason Kessler, a data scientist at CDK, led the study. Kessler said, “People are actually pretty bad at predicting what kind of language is engaging. The common, but naïve, approach is to assume positive sentiment is the most persuasive.”

Kessler was motivated to explore the language of closers after being involved in a similar study of words and phrases in vehicle reviews. In the study, he looked at vehicle reviews on a third party research site. He found that positive reviews with language about benefits like “comfortable” and “quiet” were more likely to drive click-thru to the dealer site than those with emotional language like “love” and “amazing.”

The Language of Closers: Communication That Wins study began with 1,300 stores from one luxury brand and one volume brand. Of those retailers, CDK identified the top and bottom 10 percent of email lead closers. CDK’s Retail Insights team “mystery shopped” the 260 stores by gathering the first personal email lead response from each store. The team analyzed the language across the high and low closers to find correlations. (The average e-mail response time was around one hour for both high and low closers.) The lists below are the top 10 words and phrases used by the highest 10 percent of closers and the lowest 10 percent of closers.


A few themes surfaced in the results:

  1. It’s important to guide the customer versus ask them to take an ill-defined action (“feel free to”). Instead, dealers should ask direct questions that require simple answers. “Provide” was the number one word used by top closers, and communicates guidance.
  2. Provide clear and relevant information that answers questions and doesn’t include “car jargon.” The words “body style” and “options” were indicative of low close rates.
  3. Avoid utilizing email communication to transition to another form – the shopper chose email for a reason. “Give me a” was often used by low-closers to take the conversation out of email.
  4. There is a huge realm of persuasion analysis insights waiting to be uncovered.

Continued research of this nature has the potential to improve interactions with customers, close rates, and more. The study only analyzed a small portion of the exchanges dealership professionals have with shoppers on a daily basis, revealing more unanswered questions. What would persuasion analysis uncover in the face-to-face greeting? What words are most positive in communication from the service BDC? What words and phrases entice female shoppers? If dealers were communicating more effectively digitally, would online lead submissions increase?


“We only analyzed what dealers are currently doing, we didn’t give any suggestions on what they could be doing,” Jason Jewert told DrivingSales News. Jewert, Manager of Performance Improvement Consulting at CDK, delivered a five-minute overview of the research and insights at Presidents Club in March. CDK Global won the Most Valuable Insight Competition and will present additional insight pertaining to the research at the DrivingSales Executive Summit this October. Jewert and Kessler are currently studying the high and low-close dealers to quantify subject line relevance and the importance of word selection relative to response time. DSES 2016 takes place October 23-25 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

About the Award

The Most Valuable Insight Competition is designed to showcase never-before-released data and research relevant to automotive retailers. The finalists invited to Presidents Club and the ultimate winner are vetted and selected by dealership executives. The competition was created in the spirit of progress and industry thought leadership. This year’s runners up were Adam Robinson from Hireology with “Effective Employment Branding Drives Better Hiring and Accelerated Business Growth” and Brian Finkelmeyer from vAuto with “4 Keys to Driving More Profit from Your New Car Inventory.”

About the Author:

The DrivingSales News team is dedicated to breaking the relevant and the tough stories affecting car dealers. Have questions for DrivingSales News? Reach the team at