Your dealership could be missing sales by pre-qualifying walk-ins or digital leads with poor sales practices that absolutely affect your close rates.

BY CEO & Founder Steve White November 19

I’m sure that most managers are familiar with the frustration that comes with discovering a salesperson decided a sale was not to be made without really working the lead, letting a perfectly good customer leave the lot. Perhaps the salesperson pre-qualified them and decided they weren’t a “today” buyer; or didn’t like how they looked; or, after a few probing questions decided they couldn’t afford to buy. The fact is, when a customer leaves without a deal being made, most sales managers get irritated.

And, when it comes to digital customers, often salespeople, internet managers or a full-blown BDC – whoever handles those leads — can find themselves chasing their tails, making multiple phone calls and sending several emails to unresponsive leads.  This can lead to cherry-picking from that pot of leads, going for the ones that look like they are a more likely sale.

In either scenario, with walk-ins or digital leads, your dealership could be missing sales with poor sales practices that absolutely affect your close rates.

Your leads should all be looked upon as sales opportunities. But, I am sure you have noticed that those following up with your leads (and yes, they belong to the dealership NOT the salespeople) tend to favor one type of lead over another.

Typically, this practice develops when people have more success engaging with leads from certain lead sources than others. My bet is that their pay plan is tied in some way to their success. And this can lead to cherry picking leads. Whether that “success” is tied directly to sales or setting appointments makes no difference. They are going to chase their pay plan by strategic selection of leads.

For example, let’s say your dealership has a high closing rate on leads from your website,, and/or CarGurus, but a lower closing rate from other lead sources. Perhaps this is because these leads have better information, or these customers tend to answer the phone and engage via email. This means less work for your staff, higher paychecks, and better individual performance.

However, that doesn’t mean leads from other sources are bad. It could mean that your staff has gotten so used to focusing on the leads from certain sources that they work them faster and with more enthusiasm, neglecting other leads. Those “other” leads receive slower responses and less effort is exerted in engaging with them or answering their questions in depth.

This practice by itself will lower overall closing rates. Why? Because every lead is an opportunity. There is no way for your staff to know which of your leads are ready to buy. Only when your staff decides for themselves that one lead source is better than another does that fact become reality.

In the end, all leads should be treated the same, regardless of source. Just as it is impossible to know which customers walking on the lot are “today” buyers, the same goes for digital opportunities.

Ensure that your staff isn’t discriminating against any particular lead source, that they are working your process with each and every lead that comes in and providing each digital customer with the same courtesy, information, and quick response. Your closing ratio will increase organically. Of course, you can keep everything as is. But you will inevitably find that nothing changes. The status quo won’t improve your sales, it will only serve to make you spend more money to keep the same sales volume.