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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