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Speed to Lead: Rev Up Your Auto Sales Lead Engagement Speed


In today's fast-paced industry, customers expect near-instant acknowledgement and responses to their questions, especially when they fill out a form online. If they don’t get it, there are plenty of other places they can go. More than ever, auto sales lead engagement speed, or “speed to lead,” can be the difference between securing a sale or losing a customer to a competitor. But how quickly do you really need to respond to leads? Let’s find out.

What Is Speed to Lead?

“Speed to lead” is a term used to describe how fast a dealership responds to leads from potential customers. It’s an important metric that helps dealerships improve their customer service and automotive lead conversion rate. Leads can include phone calls and voicemails, email, live chat or chatbot messages, website leads, and contact form fills.

To determine your speed to lead, you need to know the individual response time for every lead: The difference between the time the lead came in and the time you responded. Add up all the response times, then divide the total by the number of leads to get your average speed to lead time.

How Quickly Do You Need to Engage Auto Sales Leads?

In the automotive industry, a good speed to lead is 10 minutes or less for most channels. If you’re using live chat or a chatbot, the response should be immediate – on those channels, customers won’t wait around for a reply. If you think that’s fast, you’re right. It’s also necessary. Speed and convenience are the top two most important elements of a positive customer experience and can set your dealership apart.

Following the Numbers: Speed to Lead Statistics

You know the ideal auto sales lead engagement speed, but it can be a challenge to respond to leads in under 10 minutes. In fact, many dealerships aren’t doing it – which gives you even more of an opening to wow your customers. Check out these surprising automotive internet lead statistics.

Automotive Internet Lead Statistics

The data is clear: Dealerships are getting a lot of leads from the internet. 7 out of 10 consumers say they are more likely to buy from a dealership if they can start at least some part of the car buying process online. Another recent study found that car shoppers visit an average of 4.5 websites: 63% visit dealership websites and 78% visit third-party websites. In fact, they spend more than 6 ½ hours researching online.

Auto Sales Lead Engagement Speed

A landmark study in Harvard Business Review got the conversation about speed to lead going back in 2011. It showed 37% of all businesses responded to their leads within an hour, 16% responded within 1 to 24 hours, 24% took more than 24 hours — and 23% of the companies never responded at all.

When it comes to dealerships specifically, we can look at the Foureyes Dealer Benchmark Report — and the speed to lead statistics are frightening. The report found that more than 66% of leads didn’t get a response within 24 hours, and 37% were mishandled, not followed up, or missed entirely.

Automotive Lead Conversion Rates

So how much does a quick response actually affect your conversion rates? The answer is a lot. The Dealer Benchmark Report found that nearly 57% of leads who make a purchase do so within three days of contacting the dealership. According to our own research, responding to after-hours leads the next day or using an autoresponder only gets around 10% engagement. But by leveraging live agents who quickly send personalized responses, Better Car People gets 30% engagement on average.

How to Increase Your Auto Sales Lead Engagement Speed

You probably don’t need statistics to tell you that responding to leads quickly is important. If you’re getting leads but not responding in time, follow these strategies for responding more quickly.

Set Specific Goals

Dealerships and sales teams tend to be all about the numbers. Instead of vague goals like “increase speed to lead,” be specific. Come up with a number of leads per week for each salesperson to reach out to, based on the number of leads coming in and how many employees you have. Or, set a department goal to shorten your average response time by 15% each quarter. Be realistic, but also ambitious.

Create a Process

Without the right automotive internet lead follow-up processes in place, your goals might remain out of reach. You’ll need a comprehensive CRM that everyone on your team is comfortable with and committed to using. Track every lead as it comes in and assign someone to respond within a set amount of time. Use templates for common questions to improve speed.

Change Up Your Lead Routing

It’s no secret that sales reps love winning. That’s why they’re so good at their jobs. But wanting to win can mean that reps pick and choose certain leads over others, leaving ones they may not be as comfortable with in the dust. Have you noticed a rep is choosing leads from a specific town in your area, for a certain type of vehicle, or something else? Evaluating your reps and routing them leads that play to their strengths can skyrocket your auto sales lead engagement speed.

Provide Incentives

Another common issue is sales reps choosing leads they perceive as more qualified. This often means choosing those with the most information, like the last activity they performed or a long form-fill of questions. But cherry-picking slows down your speed to lead, as customers who only provided a name, email, or phone number won’t look as valuable — and might be skipped altogether. Consider offering reps additional incentives to contact these leads.

Leverage Technology

Customers aren’t the only ones with access to newfangled technology. Software, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation are valuable tools for car dealer lead management. Bringing in more technology is a top priority for dealerships looking to increase their auto sales lead engagement speed, and it’s easy to see why. From automated email responses to chatbots to outsourced business development centers (BDCs), technology allows you to quickly respond to leads, even after hours.

Improve Your Automotive Internet Lead Follow-Up Process

Outsourced automotive BDCs like Better Car People’s Sales BDC™ solution can really rev up your auto sales lead engagement speed. Our proprietary platform combines powerful automation with the skills of live agents who are automotive experts. We respond to leads via email and phone, follow-up, book appointments, and more. Ready to put the pedal to the metal? Book a meeting with an expert to learn how we can help you accelerate your lead response.


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