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The Automotive Industry Report: How Dealerships Lose Car Sales Leads

The Automotive Industry Report: How Dealerships Lose Car Sales Leads

Paulina Golab
Paulina Golab
March 8, 2019

We live in a world of speed. Customers expect instant service, instant replies, immediate delivery. It doesn’t just relate to online shopping or helplines, it also applies to purchase decisions such as buying a new car or even an apartment. Nobody wants to wait. But are the salespeople from all these different industries able to meet these expectations?

To be honest, at CallPage we were a bit doubtful that sales reps would always do their best to respond to their (allegedly coveted) prospective buyers as quickly as possible.


Wanting to avoid speculation, we decided to check how sales reps from the automotive industry are dealing with hot online leads. To do so, we directly contacted 501 car dealers using four different channels: contact forms, emails, Facebook Messenger, and phone. That’s how our report How dealerships in the U.S. lose car sales leads was created.




What are the general results?


Do you think people whose job is to sell cars for thousands of dollars are quick to respond to potential customers?


No, they are not, and what’s even worse - in over 40% of cases they don’t reply at all! If a customer is lucky enough, they will receive a response after a few hours. Even dealerships that invest in additional solutions, e.g. chatbots on their websites (this could indicate that they are more aware of the importance of LRT) do not perform distinctly better in their response time.  


Also, implementing systems that could supposedly improve potential customers’ experience and connect them with a sales rep faster, like call forwarding, make the waiting time 2x longer.


We cannot share all the results in this short text. To get access to all the data we collected, download the report by clicking this link.


What does it all mean?


Our findings expose a huge flaw in dealership pipelines and, at the same time, reveal a tremendous opportunity for car dealers to improve their lead response time and fix gaps in the way they interact with potential customers.


But, for starters, why are we having this conversation? Why in 2019 do potential clients still have to wait too long to get a simple response?


We have a few possible causes:


  • Reps are too caught up with their everyday manual tasks, like retrieving leads from the CRM, to focus on potential clients. It may take a couple of hours of running their daily errands before they can respond to leads.


  • Salespeople seem to have forgotten about human-to-human contact. They are living in 2019, and then they are not, both at the same time. Why is that? They have autoresponders, chatbots, email templates in all possible languages, and the feeling that everything is under control because they have all this technology that supports them. Because of this, they forget that in all cases, there is still a human being on the other side and by only relying on technical solutions, they prolong the response time (which is so not 2019). “Go out” and talk to people. Conversations are important.

  • It is also possible that some reps are aware of client expectations but simply don’t want to adjust and change their approach. Why? Because they think the methods and sales techniques they used (and allegedly improved) over the years still drive results and lead response time has zero impact on their performance.

  • There’s no prioritization system implemented: incoming emails are not assessed based on their theme and possible urgency but are usually answered one by one. Instead, reps should tag new messages in real time and assign them various levels of priority, depending on the subject, the particular question asked, level of complexity, etc.


  • Many sales reps focus on generating and nurturing their own leads and ignore those that land on the dealership’s website. Ironically, those contacts are more likely to convert and do not require as much work from a salesperson as in the case of cold leads.

To change this situation, car dealers should look for systems that allow their salespeople to contact prospective buyers through callback or chat, which, when used properly, can significantly improve the lead response time. However, the help of technology and automation should never turn the way businesses acquire new clients into a lifeless process with no actual contact between people.




This article is based on the Automotive Industry Report “How dealerships in the U.S. lose car sales leads”. Results from the study can be downloaded here.

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