You spend a lot of time, effort, and money on lead generation, conversion optimization, and lead capture. Ads, bids from third-party sites, and of course, targeted, engaging content and offers on your site are all part of your strategy to get more leads and, ultimately, more conversions from your website.

But what happens after those leads finally convert? Do you follow up immediately, or do you let your newly converted lead’s coveted personal information simply evaporate into the ether?

Consider the following scenario:

Monday, 11:22 AM:

Jim wants to trade in his old car for a new one.

So he does what most people would do: he goes online and spends an hour looking up car specs, reading reviews, and comparing pricing. 

Once Jim has chosen his favorite makes and models, he googles dealerships in his area, and clicks on the one or two that are closest to his home or office. He begins browsing, when he notices an offer that interests him enough to complete the form before shutting his laptop.

Monday, 11:27 AM:

Five minutes later, Jim hears a notification beep on his phone and sees an obviously automated email from the dealership. He ignores it because he’s rushing to an appointment.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Here’s the first thing you have to know about follow-up to lead conversion: auto-responses are essentially useless. Why? Because they almost never answer shoppers’ questions and rarely stop them from seeking information– or a test drive– elsewhere. What’s worse, a 2010 US Sales Satisfaction Index reveals that 56% of dealership automated emails include basic errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation. It’s hard to get a stranger’s attention. It’s harder when you appear sloppy and careless.

But anyway, back to Jim.

Tuesday, 9:30 AM:

22 hours after converting, Jim receives a phone call from one Julie, who says she’s calling from Motown Jeep. Jim has just sat down at his desk to multiple projects and messages, and has no clue what Julie is talking about. After a moment, he vaguely remembers that he filled out a form on some site earlier.

But he’s busy now and can’t speak to Julie. He hangs up.

What went wrong?

Julie did her job: she made the call. But she lost the deal. Why? Because she didn’t get around to calling Jim until 22 hours after he converted on the dealership website. 

Compare this lag to the follow-up time in your actual dealership. Would you tell a customer in your showroom to wait 22 hours for the next available salesperson? How about 12 hours? How about 4 hours?

The answer is no. Never.

Ten years ago, customers were visiting, on average, seven dealerships before actually buying a vehicle. Today, that number is more like two. If your team doesn’t speak with a customer on the phone within 10 minutes of their filling out some sort of interest form on your site, chances are that customer isn’t coming to your lot, ever.

It gets worse.

Recent research shows that the odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour. Waiting 30 minutes instead of five causes odds of contacting a lead to drop 100 times.

lead nurture

And yet, 2008 JD Power’s Internet Mystery Shopper Study found that only 68 percent of dealerships followed up with their website leads within three days, and the average response time for dealers who did follow up was 12.4 hours. 

Picture Jim sitting around in your dealership for over 12 hours. It’s laughable, right?

The bottom line is that you just can’t make a hot lead wait to speak to a person. It’s a needless waste of time and money to not immediately pick up the phone when someone comes to your site, expresses interest in buying one of your cars, and hands you their contact information.

And if you don’t reach them the first time? Try again. Data shows that reaching out to leads at least six times increases odds of reaching them by up to 90%.

lead response time


This is another way your digital showroom needs to be an extension of your brick-and-mortar showroom, with the same standards, attention to detail, and excellence.

Which brings us to the next point. It’s not enough to make the call, and make it quickly and persistently. To maximize your lead nurture, you also have to prepare for the call.

Read the Lead

This might sound surprising after telling you to call your leads immediately, but there is such a thing as calling too fast.

Let’s say Julie notices Jim’s conversion right away, but decides to call him before taking a moment to read all the information in her CRM: not only his name and phone number, but also the number of sessions he spent on the site and pages he visited before converting, and any specific questions he asked.

She will likely ask him for information he has already provided, or offer him something he finds irrelevant. Think of it this way: have you ever called customer service with a problem and been passed along to four representatives, each of whom asks you for the same information, and then tries to get you to sign up for something you don’t want? Don’t do that to your converted leads.

Instead, take a minute– and it only takes an extra minute– to get a sense of who your new lead is. Are they further up the funnel or closer to buying? Have they expressed interest in a particular model? Do they have a specific question? Know this information. Then, when you make the call, you can offer value, avoid redundancy, and make a great impression.

So, next time a lead comes into your CRM, note it, read it, and make a call right away that is as tailored as your showroom’s in-person customer service. You’ll see happier customers– and make more sales.

Want to take your lead nurture to the next level with the best website analytics out there? Call us for a free consultation at 216-242-1320.