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The bottom line was: according to the folks who commented, it's a lead that comes from properties outside their direct control and is the result of online advertising by someone other than their dealership or their OEM. Think AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, KBB, etc.
That's borne out by our experience in the real world, where our sales reps talk to dealers about finance leads and where they fit in with their advertising strategy and budget. On a good day, those discussions end up becoming more about us getting a piece of the marketing budget, comparing our programs to other online advertising programs and determining which one will best fit the structure of the store and the make up of their sales team.
The challenge comes in highlighting the difference between a consumer who's interested in the shiny blue Mustang (inventory lead) and the consumer who's applied for credit and can be influenced to pick the right car for them (finance lead).
I'll take a closer look at those in my next post.