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Carlos Sousa

Carlos Sousa Business Development & Account Manager

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Top 5 Reasons You’re Wasting Internet Leads

More than 60% of all Internet lead responses we scored in the last 30 days did NOT include a strong Call to Action....How many opportunities are you missing out on because of this?

For years, we’ve asked Internet Directors and BDC Managers one question: “How effectively are you handling your Internet leads?”. The answer is not surprising: “We respond quickly and typically beat our internal benchmark for Appointment Set Rate (Appointments / Contacts).”

Unfortunately, as soon as we start reviewing Internet lead responses, we see a much different story. While it’s great that you’re responding quickly and beating internal benchmarks, you must be aware that you’re almost certainly throwing away numerous opportunities! Why?

The five mistakes below are the ones we most commonly see in Internet lead responses. Avoiding these is a great first step towards maximizing the value of your Internet department.


Mistake #1 – Taking Too Long to Respond

Research has shown time and time again that prospects contacted within 60 minutes of their first lead submission are up to 10X more likely to engage with you! Yet our study shows that 8-10% of all inbound Internet leads are NOT being contacted within 60 minutes.

If you average 1,000 Internet leads a month, this means you are potentially missing out on 100 opportunities! If you closed those at a 15% rate, you would be selling 15 more cars a month. How’s that for leaving money on the table?


Mistake #2 – Not Calling the Prospect Within 60 Minutes of Submission

“Why would we call the customer if they submitted an online form? They probably prefer to be contacted via e-mail”. We hear this all the time. In fact, our data shows that 35% of Internet leads who provide their phone number are NOT called within 60 minutes of their form submission.

If we already know that contacting within 60 minutes is critical to engaging the prospect – shouldn’t we try to contact them over email AND phone? And let’s be honest, would a prospect give you their phone number if he or she did NOT want to be contacted? The answer is a big fat NO, yet you’re missing on opportunities by not calling them!


Mistake #3 – Not Including a Strong Call to Action

“Hi Customer, thank you for your inquiry. When would you be available to come in for a test drive?” This is by far the most common “Call to Action” we see in the lead responses we score. In fact, we see a soft CTA like this one in 70% of them!

Do you think this is strong enough that it would get a prospect to come into your dealership TODAY? No, you’re not giving them a reason to move fast. In fact, this gives them an excuse to stall! They know you want them to test drive because that improves your chances of closing the deal, but what’s in it for THEM? Will their price be significantly better if they show up TODAY? Any major specials that they could take advantage of if they move quickly? You MUST create urgency in your response!


Mistake #4 – Not Addressing the Customer’s Questions

This is a personal favorite. You’re so efficient in your process that you respond quickly with a templated email but completely ignore the customer’s questions! We see this in over 20% of the lead responses we score. How would you feel as a prospect if you were treated like this?

More importantly, a question is a clear indication of the customer’s buying criteria – it tells you EXACTLY what they care about (that’s why they asked you about it!). How will you earn this prospect’s business if you don’t even understand his/her priorities? Remember your lead process MUST be focused on the prospect’s needs, NOT your own.


Mistake #5 – You’ve got a Great Process…That Nobody Follows!

By now, you may be saying “Interesting information, but these steps are already covered in my Internet lead response process, so this really doesn’t apply to us!” If this was your reaction, join the club. Most managers we work with feel the same way...until they see the data! Remember, the strongest process in the world will mean nothing if you don’t execute. Are you consistently training, coaching, and holding your team accountable for strong Internet lead responses?


So…What Should You Do About This?

  • Define the problem. Which of these mistakes are you making? Identify the specific areas that you need to focus on. Start by routinely inspecting a representative sample of your lead responses or getting somebody to help you with this.

  • Develop an improvement plan. How will you coach? Who will lead the charge? What will you focus on? How will you inspect to ensure you’re making progress?

  • Execute. You must be consistent and disciplined. Improving your Internet lead responses will not happen in a day. It will take time, but those who stick to the plan and act day in and day out are sure to see the results!


I hope this can help you improve your Internet lead Appointment Set, Show, and Sold Rates. I would love to hear from you – What problems are you seeing with Internet lead responses? What have you done to improve? Any other ideas?  

Caleb  Twito

What's funny about the internet process is everybody thinks that there's is bullets...that is until you start tracking and see the data. It's easy to follow up within 60 minutes on a Tuesday morning but when it's crazy on a Saturday afternoon is where having a defined process gets really important. Really nice article, Carlos. 

Leo Portaluppi

Great article Carlos! This is something we work on every day.

Carlos Sousa

Thanks for your comment Leo! I believe execution (i.e. monitoring and enforcing every day) is exactly what will separate the highest performing dealerships from the rest. I'm glad you brought that up. This attitude is sure to differentiate Chevrolet of Columbus from its competitors.  

Malcolm Earp

Good article but Internet leads need responding to more quickly. Typically a car buyer will submit inquiry forms with a phone number for 4 to 6 vehicles. At Calldrip we've monitored the sales closing rate on Internet leads across 500 dealers in the USA and U.K. and the first 20 minutes is critical. Responding in 30 seconds is seeing the best teams in stores like Galpin Ford closing over 25% of leads. The reason is that a. The customer is still on the web page and in the now moment and b. Is contactable. So sales agents are selling the appointment at the store and closing the sale before competition has chance to respond. From our research responding after 20 minutes achieves the same sales closing rate as at 24 hours of between 6% and 8%.

Dealers are increasingly using Calldrip to eat their competitor's lunches, and as Ian Golbold, Group Marketing Director of U.K.'s Cambria Group said, when asked if he'd recommend Calldrip to his competitors, "No I don't want them having this technology". So those dealers like Cambria, Galpin and Suburban are keeping quiet about their secret weapon in turning internet leads into sales

Caleb  Twito

@malcolm in my experience as both a consumer and working for multiple dealer groups, there is a massive difference between a 60 minute and 24 hour response. I really like the idea of responding within 20 minutes because the customer is in the moment but I can't wrap my head around the same conversions with a 24 hour response compared to 60 minutes. 

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