Stop Stressing Credits, Focus On Selling

I am see­ing a dis­turb­ing trend hap­pen­ing in our indus­try. A lot of deal­ers are focus­ing way too much on get­ting cred­its from inde­pen­dent lead providers instead of focus­ing that ener­gy on sell­ing cars. Now, before you react. Please read the rest of this arti­cle

Sean V. BradleyRemem­ber before start­ing my com­pa­ny, I was an Inter­net Direc­tor for over 5 years, so  I know exact­ly what the chal­lenges are in oper­at­ing in this envi­ron­ment.  Now for almost 10 years I have been build­ing Inter­net Sales depart­ments and Busi­ness Devel­op­ment Cen­ters. I say this just to show that I am not “pro ven­dor or anti-deal­er”.  I am a Car-Guy and all I care about is sell­ing cars. And it seems that there is a trend with Deal­ers that are so focused on get­ting cred­its with leads. Some deal­ers spend so much time try­ing to track down cred­its it dimin­ish­es the amount of time fol­low­ing up with actu­al prospects. I am NOT sug­gest­ing that you should not be com­pen­sat­ed for leads that are invalid or dupli­cates. I am just express­ing my con­cern with Deal­ers that spend so much time focus­ing on try­ing to get cred­it for leads. Actu­al­ly grind­ing their reps for more credit(s). I have clients that do it some­times for sport. I said clients, so I know it’s a fact. Some deal­ers demand cred­its because they know that most lead source providers will con­cede rather than argue with a deal­er or pos­si­bly lose a client over some­thing as sil­ly as a cred­it. There are deal­ers that some­times not choose a par­tic­u­lar lead source provider because of their “Lead Cred­it Pol­i­cy”, or worse even can­cel a 3rd par­ty lead source provider or aggre­ga­tor because they didn’t get a cred­it or the amount of cred­it back they thought they were owed.

This blows my mind because the aver­age cost per lead in the Unit­ed States is only $20 (give or take a cou­ple of dol­lars).  The upside is off the charts. If a deal­er buys 100 leads at $2,000 and sells 10 per­cent (10 units) with an aver­age Front and Back, total gross of $2,000 per copy. That is $20,000 Gross. The Return On Invest­ment (ROI) is SICK!! We are talk­ing about a Net prof­it of $18,000 from 1 lead source provider. Espe­cial­ly when you com­pare it to tra­di­tion­al adver­tis­ing. NADA says that the aver­age cost per sale in adver­tis­ing is $640+ per car. In the mod­el I just men­tioned, 10 units sold out of 100 leads at $2,000 per copy means that the inde­pen­dent lead source provider mod­el is ONLY $200 per car sold. That is less than 1/3 of what the AVERAGE deal­er­ship in this coun­try sells cars for.

Here is the prob­lem; most deal­ers for­get that leads are NOT mag­i­cal beans or sil­ver bul­lets. They for­get that they have to work at these leads. And when I say “work”, I mean WORK and work them hard. Deal­ers need to have the fol­low­ing:

  • A Fol­low Up Process – Deal­ers need to have a real­is­tic fol­low up process for email, phone and social media (Yes, I said social media. Social Media is the #1 form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion on this plan­et).  They need to not just say “we need to fol­low up via email, phone and social media”. There needs to be an EXACT for­mu­la mapped out. The for­mu­la needs to be real­is­tic and log­i­cal and take into account that the aver­age buy­ing cycle is 45–90 days. NOT 37 days. Also, the fol­low up process needs to be tai­lored to the fact that the aver­age Inter­net sales prospect is also engag­ing 5–8 oth­er deal­ers or web­sites…
  • Con­tent – Deal­ers need to have a pow­er­ful library of con­tent. Email Tem­plates, Phone Scripts, Word Tracks, Objec­tions, Rebut­tals, Val­ue Pack­age Propo­si­tion (Why buy from us mes­sage).
  • Peo­ple / HR – Deal­ers need to have the right amount of peo­ple in the depart­ment or the right amount of peo­ple in the deal­er­ship that are work­ing the Inter­net Leads. A lot of deal­ers have too many leads and not enough peo­ple or the oppo­site… too many peo­ple and not enough leads. Both are bad prob­lems (That can be fixed). But its not just not hav­ing the right amount of peo­ple. Deal­ers need to have the RIGHT peo­ple in the right posi­tions. The right sched­ul­ing and pay plans are also imper­a­tive for suc­cess with­in an Inter­net Sales Depart­ment or BDC.
  • Train­ing – Deal­ers need to train their peo­ple with what to do, when to do it, how to do it and most impor­tant­ly why they are doing it.
  • TO pro­to­col- There needs to be a 100% “TO” process in place with ALL Inter­net prospects. Just like most deal­ers and all suc­cess­ful deal­er­ships believe in a 100% TO pro­to­col for show­room prospects. So should the Inter­net depart­ment. Too many times deal­er­ships “burn” through Inter­net Ups with­out any account­abil­i­ty.
  • Cul­ture – Deal­er­ships that instill a cul­ture that ALL leads are good leads. ALL inde­pen­dent leads are AWESOME will be tremen­dous­ly suc­cess­ful. It’s the deal­ers that allow Inter­net or BDC reps to “pre-qual­i­fy” leads or allow reps to say that a cer­tain lead “sucks”… those deal­er­ships will be inun­dat­ed with “bad leads” that suck.  Deal­ers that teach their Inter­net / BDC teams that a lead is ONLY a “lead” it is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to sell an auto­mo­bile. NOTHING MORE. It is a name, some­times a phone num­ber, some­times an email address.
    BUT if you receive a lead with­out an email address or phone num­ber instead of wor­ry­ing about a cred­it (at first). FOCUS on try­ing to ascer­tain that con­tact infor­ma­tion. For exam­ple deal­ers can:
  •  Open up the orig­i­nal lead with­in the ILM /CRM and see if the lead didn’t parse
  • Reverse look up via 411
  • Reverse look up via or
  • Thor­ough reverse look up with
  • Reverse look up via social media (cut and past prospect’s email address into Face­book, Twit­ter, Linkedin etc…

Bot­tom line is that inde­pen­dent providers have tremen­dous val­ue. To real­ize that true val­ue, deal­ers need to be pre­pared for these leads and have a proac­tive mind­set that leads are gate­ways to oppor­tu­ni­ties to sell an auto­mo­bile. Its not a guar­an­tee, only an oppor­tu­ni­ty to do busi­ness. It is up to us how we max­i­mize that oppor­tu­ni­ty.

If you have any ques­tions about this arti­cle or if you would like me to review your Dealership’s Inter­net or BDC lead fol­low up process. Please email me at or call me on my cell at 267–319-6776.


Sean V. Bradley is an instruc­tor and mod­er­a­tor for the Inter­net Sales 20 Group in Novem­ber in Los Ange­les.  He is also the founder and CEO of Deal­er Syn­er­gy, one of the top auto­mo­tive train­ing and con­sult­ing com­pa­nies in the Unit­ed States.

 The Dealer Synergy and AutoUSA teams look forward to seeing you at the upcoming Internet Sales 20 Group Event  in Los Angeles in November, where AutoUSA is a Platinum Sponsor.