What Percentage of Your Sales Are Generated by Internet Leads?


By Josh Vajda

In a recent sur­vey we asked 184 deal­er­ship per­son­nel this ques­tion: What per­cent­age of your store’s over­all sales is gen­er­ated by the Inter­net depart­ment? Fully half (50%) of the respon­dents reported they were in the 20–40% range. Only 15% of respon­dents reported less than 20%, while 35% of respon­dents reported their deal­er­ships attrib­uted more than 40% of their sales to Inter­net leads.

Why such a dis­par­ity? I’m guess­ing that not every deal­er­ship answers the fol­low­ing ques­tion in the same way:

How do you define an Inter­net customer?

Since roughly 90% of your cus­tomers use the Inter­net before com­ing into the deal­er­ship, you could argue that 90% of sales are com­ing from the Inter­net, and that many of those cus­tomers don’t e-mail beforehand—they just call or walk in. But the oppo­site can also be true. One dealer group recently cre­ated a pro­mo­tion for their new Pay­ment ProSM fea­ture on their web­site. When the tra­di­tional ads ran, the deal­er­ship saw a huge spike in vis­its to their web­site, which then turned into pre-qualified web­site leads. So are these Inter­net leads, or should they be attrib­uted to the tra­di­tional ad campaign?

Although it may be dif­fi­cult to arrive at an indus­try stan­dard for what the def­i­n­i­tion of an Inter­net sale is, your deal­er­ship should have its own def­i­n­i­tion. Just as impor­tant as a stan­dard mea­sure­ment is track­ing the per­for­mance over time so you can iden­tify growth opportunities.

Best Prac­tices for Improv­ing Clos­ing Percentages

The most effec­tive way to increase the per­cent­age of sales attrib­uted to Inter­net leads is to improve the clos­ing per­cent­ages of your cur­rent Inter­net lead volume.

From the same sur­vey, we fil­tered responses from the highest-performing deal­er­ships based on the met­rics they shared. The most suc­cess­ful Inter­net depart­ments claimed the fol­low­ing best prac­tices were crit­i­cal in order to make an Inter­net depart­ment successful:

  • Qual­ity & Speed of Lead Response (72%)
  • Web­site search vis­i­bil­ity (66%)
  • Man­age­ment Buy-In and Sup­port (61%) and Staff Train­ing & Account­abil­ity (61%) tied for third.

Deal­ers con­tinue to stress how crit­i­cal it is to have a process in place to pre­vent sales­peo­ple from clos­ing out their own leads. It’s too easy for them to say “this lead is bad,” or “that lead isn’t valid,” and sim­ply close out those leads, which results in a higher reported clos­ing percentage—albeit a false one. It’s no dif­fer­ent than if 100 cus­tomers walk through the door and 10% of those cus­tomers are lot drops, and then you cal­cu­late the clos­ing per­cent­age of 90 cus­tomers instead of 100.

More results from our sur­vey will be shared in our upcom­ing work­shop, the “Five Things in Com­mon Suc­cess­ful Inter­net Depart­ments Share,” at the Dig­i­tal Dealer Con­fer­ence & Expo­si­tion in Las Vegas.

Josh Vajda, Direc­tor of Inside Sales, AutoUSA, can be reached at vajdaj@autoUSA.com.