A step by step guide on implementing an automated lead generation system for your car dealership

The last few years have seen massive surges in property prices around capital cities and even some regional centres around Australia – heck our office is almost a full two hours north of Sydney CBD and most of the team here can’t get a look in on their first or second home.

But this seems to be starting to slow, and there are now reports of slowdowns in housing spend trickling down into what is considered the ‘second biggest purchase’ decision that most make in their lifetime – new and used cars. The big, listed automotive holding groups in Australia have just reported some softness in earnings and profit targets. That got us thinking on what makes a car dealership in 2017, and what can be implemented to really turbocharge the sales volumes for your Dealerships.

We’ve surveyed our book of Dealership clients as well as those clients that sell large ticket items – caravans, housing, boats etc – and we’ve got a roadmap for you to implement in your business today to achieve automatic lead generation. These leads will be white hot, ready to buy, and far easier for your sales team to close than traditional cold calls or even the dreaded ‘dead wood’ that’s probably sitting in your sales funnel at the moment.

Here are the four steps to take that will drive more leads and more sales for your Dealership business.

Step one – identify the hook

It’s no secret that there are a huge amount of Dealerships around Australia. Coupled with emerging players in the secondhand market (read; Gumtree) and even manufacturer direct players (Cough…Tesla…cough) it can be hard to stand out. Your marketing won’t drive big wins if you don’t have a hook or unique selling point so really put your thinking cap on when it comes to this. We’d suggest focussing on an irresistible price point, which will mean a loss leader for many Dealerships, an offering unique to your Dealership such as a free service program or a large scale competition such as a cash or car giveaway, to name a few. Although the cost of these offers may seem large, they will acquire you new sales leads for a fraction of the price of cold marketing. Lead generation magic!

To give you a clearer picture, here is a sample breakdown comparing a total return on a unique offer campaign vs a standard cold, generic campaign;


Cost of value or offer – $20,000 Cost of offer – $0 (no offer)
Cost of marketing to promote offer – $20,000          Cost of general cold marketing – $20,000
Quantity of verified leads harvested – 600 Quantity of verified leads harvested – 95
Close rate – 30% Close rate – 30%
Closed deals – 180 Closed deals – 28.5
Average deal value – $25,000 Average deal value – $25,000
Value of new business closed – $4.5M Value of new business closed – $712,500
Cost per closed deal – $222 Cost per closed deal – $701.75


Step two – integrate five key digital channels

You will absolutely get the best bang for buck by integrating multiple digital channels into your strategy in order to capitalise on assisted conversions.

Assisted conversions

‘The utilisation of one digital channel to recapture a lost user online that was originally delivered to a brand website via an alternate digital channel’


Assisted conversions are a great way to harness lead generation and continually push leads through your online verification and sales process without having to get involved manually.

To remove any shadow of doubt, you should invest in digital advertising across multiple platforms (Google Adwords, display, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin etc), SEO, marketing automation and social content to be able to leverage assisted conversions to their full capacity.

Often businesses just dipping their toe into the digital space will focus wholly and solely on digital advertising / SEM. While this is a great sugar hit strategy to get a few leads through the door quickly, you’re leaving a lot on the table by not capturing users that don’t convert (call or fill a form) on their first pass through your sales process. As much as 89% of all traffic will bounce away from your campaign landing page without taking the action that you want them to take, so employing other digital channels to capture these leads is a must.

If you’re looking for the digital system that will drive the best possible ROI for you in the mid to long term, without a doubt you should be considering SEO. Although it can be incredibly complex to navigate ( No doubt you’ve had at least three calls or emails today guaranteeing you insane results for the low low price of $99), SEO has the potential to be a real rainmaker for your Dealership.

Here’s a quick elevator comparison between paying for ads that lead to enquiries vs engaging in SEO that leads to enquiries;

Digital Ads SEO
Cost of 1,000 ad clicks @ $3 / click = $3,000 Cost of SEO / month- major Dealership, competitive location = $1,950, driving 3,350 leads to site / month  
Industry av. conversion rate = 2.1% = 21 new leads Industry av. conversion rate = 70.35
Close rate = 30% or 6.3 new cars sold Conversion rate = 30% or 21.1 new cars sold
$3,000 ad investment / 6.3 sales = $476 per new car sale         $1,950 SEO investment / 21.1 sales = $92.41 per new car sale

The main challenge to a quality SEO result for your Dealership is finding a quality SEO system. Many companies that offer SEO engage in blackhat – building huge masses of poor quality links to your website that will hurt rather than excel your rankings in the mid term. If you can cotton onto a quality SEO supplier, you’re halfway to home.

To recap;

  • Digital ads drive new leads
  • SEO drives longer term leads
  • Social content drives brand engagements (that lead to brand advocates)
  • Automation drives up and cross sell

Step three – set up an automated lead generation and follow up process

This may seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many businesses we find that have leads coming their way in some shape or form, but they’re not following up with them in a timely manner.

This may not have been such a huge issue before the digital onslaught, but now we’re seeing the attention span of the consumer get shorter and shorter, to the point where unless you’re Nike or Apple, consumers just don’t care enough about your brand to put up with average customer service.

We recommend utilising a CRM system that is marketing and customer focussed such as Salesforceiq or SharpSpring to set up a near-automated process to follow up with Customers at each stage of their lifecycle – from first interaction, right through to post-sales service and follow ups.

While there a ton of great Dealer based CRMs and systems for lead generation and management available that many Dealers use well, marketing focussed CRMs generally tend to offer improved workflows and processes to drive your Customer engagement. You don’t need to uproot your entire Dealer Management System to implement a new CRM. Instead, you can look for API bridges that will link your marketing CRM to your Dealer CRM, so there won’t be any swapping or matching of data needed once you’re set up!

Step four – Up and cross sell to drive new revenue, automatically

Following on from the CRM piece, you can start to look at the lifetime value of your customers and how digital can drive new revenues from each.

One popular method we keep up our sleeve is to look at first or second service based friend referrals. Using tracking you can identify who has forwarded particular service or sales offers to friends, and how often. This can automatically deploy a voucher for a free or discount service or offering to those leads, as a thanks for letting their friends know of the great experience they’ve had with you.

Some of our clients find this lead generation concept daunting at first, but when you consider it can cost you as much as $300 real dollars to acquire a customer on a large ticket item or transaction, and the sunken cost of a free logbook service, (rather than the RRP) the proposition starts to become much more appealing.

Referrals are still the strongest method of building a business model, and digital has really helped to make the referral process much easier and therefore more attractive to many Consumers, so it pays to look into some processes you can implement to drive incremental revenue growth across your book of Customers.