The Secrets to Growing Your Website’s Leads, Calls & Sales: Maximizing Conversions with The 39%


As we learned from two great studies produced recently by AutoTrader and DrivingSales, 39% of today’s buyers make some contact with the dealership prior to arriving. This means they submit an e-lead, pick up the phone, start a chat or complete some other connection activity before walking on your lot.

In this part, we’re going to examine ways to maximize our conversions with these folks – the ones I like to call “The 39%.”

Let me acknowledge first that I love The 39%. These are the typical conversions that we’ve always thought of over the years: the form leads; the calls; the chats. I love The 39% because if you have great processes, then you can win here. With The 39%, top dealers have an opportunity to shine. With The 39%, you have a chance to schedule and execute The Perfect Appointment. Basically, I love The 39% because you can control the entire process from beginning to end. (For the Traditional Up, you cannot control anything until they decide to show up on your lot.)

With The 39% you get a chance to ensure they have a VIP experience that they will rave about, because you can be prepared for their visit and have their vehicle cleaned, gassed, and parked out front when they arrive.

I’m Sold! Now, How Do I Get More of The 39%?

The primary strategy for getting more than your share of The 39% is to cast as wide a net as possible. In simple terms: you need to be buying every lead source that can show an acceptable ROI. You’re a fool if you believe the Do-It-Yourself or the Anti-Lead movements. The dealers who think they can generate their own leads without outside assistance are leaving sales to their competitors. They wrongly assume that they’ll get those prospects anyway. They won’t.

Not everyone goes to your website and not everyone that does go to your website is going to complete your e-price form. There are different forms and different calls-to-action that appeal to different customers. Casting a wide net insures you have an opportunity to sell the entire 39% a vehicle – not just the few who submit a lead through your website.

Let’s Remember Your Website’s Goals

As we learned in the first part from this series, your website has just two goals: attract and convert. Once you have a visitor on your site, it’s critical that you balance their experience with your desire to drive a lead. This means we need to balance:

  1. Lead generation versus the annoyance factor;
  2. Lead generation versus TMI; and
  3. Lead generation versus required form fields.

Balancing Lead Generation and The Annoyance Factor

You want to chase away your prospects before they ever get a chance to submit a lead or pick up the phone? Great, just have your chat drop-in show up immediately upon arrival and then 32 more times on 32 straight pages your prospect views.

If your goal is to convert, then you’ll want to use chat drop-in, but within reason. First, you don’t need any chat form popping in or dropping in until the prospect has had more than a few seconds to review a page. Next, you’ll want these forms to eventually stop dropping in once the prospect has closed them an adequate number of times. (My threshold is two or three. This means, that after I’ve closed a chat drop-in two or three times, it should stop dropping in!)

Finally, look at the rest of pop-ups, coupon sliders and gift card offers. These are all considered pop-ups to consumers, so just be sure to limit your use of these. (I am a HUGE fan of pop-ups done right – the trick is that you cannot inundate your prospects to the point they leave your site.)

Balancing Lead Generation and TMI

Information is everywhere today and if your website provides no information, you’ll receive fewer leads and see fewer Traditional Ups.

On the flip side of this fact is TMI (too much information). If you provide prospects absolutely everything they need to know about the deal without ever gathering any information from them, there’s a very good chance they’re going to take what you’ve shared and validate this with one of your competitors.

Your strategy, therefore, should be to provide the “must have” information like selling price to all visitors, but requiring an information exchange before you begin to build a deal or even value a trade. (There are dealers providing the whole deal structure online without requiring any contact information from the prospect. While this might become the norm in the next decade, it’s not proving to help these dealers gain market share or even hold gross today.)

Balancing Lead Generation and Required Form Fields

Want perfect leads? Make every field required, including phone, home address, date of birth and social security number. The leads you receive from these forms will have virtually everything you need to start the deal jacket. You’ll also receive shockingly few leads.

Want more leads? Make no form fields required. You’ll get more leads, but the quality will suffer dramatically.

Your forms should require only the minimum amount of information you need to create a good contact in the CRM and to start a dialog. For most you, this means you need First Name, Last Name and Email Address… and nothing else. Have a spot for “Best Phone Number,” but don’t make it a required field or you’ll be guaranteed lots of fake numbers and a high form abandon rate.

There are certainly other considerations with forms and form fields for dealers to understand, and we’ll tackle all of the important ones in the next installment of this series. Stay tuned!

Next up in the series: Website Form Neglect – It’s Costing You Leads! 

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Before You Change Even One Word on Your Website…)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in Digital Marketing and Website Conversion. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at