Are You Reading Internet Lead Lingo?


By Josh Vajda

I’ve always believed that Internet customers have the same objectives – and objections – as  showroom customers: the only difference is the way they choose to contact the dealership. So it’s interesting to me when I hear from salespeople who have different expectations from their Internet leads than they do from their showroom guests.

Take the classic on-the-lot objection, “I’m not looking,” or “I’m just looking but not buying today.” When a customer visits a showroom and a salesperson hears that phrase, what is the proper response? Get angry? Pass them off to a co-worker? Of course not.

In such a situation, it’s generally accepted that the salesperson should immediately set the customer at ease. Acknowledge that it’s OK for the customer to just look, and offer to be a resource for them. Now, let’s say that a salesperson is sitting at their computer looking at a response from an email sent to an Internet lead. They read “I’m not in the market,” or “I’m just doing research right now.” The salesperson rolls their eyes, and immediately closes the lead out – the equivalent of a’ lot drop’ after the greeting.

Why would you treat that Internet lead any differently than a showroom customer? Here are a few reasons why the response should be the same:

  • Both showroom and Internet customers have to be brought down funnel. A salesperson has to earn the right to ask a customer for the sale.
  • Both showroom and Internet customers ARE in the market for a vehicle, despite their objections. Why would anyone take the time to visit a dealership or submit an online lead (which does take some time) if they’re not?
  • Both showroom and Internet customers have the same first-contact conversion rates. NADA estimates that the conversion rate for first-time, walk-in showroom customers is 12-15%. The average dealership’s close rate for Internet leads from all sources combined is 10-15%.

When faced with objections from Internet leads, some salespeople tend to give up more quickly than they would with a walk-in. But if they invest the same time and effort as they do with showroom customers, focusing on working the sales process and earning the right, they’ll get results.

Josh Vajda, Director of Inside Sales, AutoUSA, can be reached at





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