Conversica, the leading provider of artificial intelligence-based lead engagement software for marketing and sales, today released the Automotive Industry edition of its Sales Effectiveness Report: Lead Follow-Up. Conversica undertook an initiative to discover best practices for lead follow-up by companies across a diverse set of industries. As part of a larger study, automotive dealers made up approximately 10% of the companies researched. This report studies the various components of sales effectiveness as they pertain to dealers, and how initial lead engagement sets automotive dealers on a course for success or failure.

The research looked at the four crucial elements generally acknowledged as critical to the successful engagement of inbound leads: promptness, persistence, personalization and performance. As part of the larger study, Conversica sought to uncover whether automotive dealers were putting the Four Ps into practice in the field. The companies were rated on the speed with which they responded, the persistence of their outreach, the personalization of their email responses and the performance of their email deliverability. Each company received a letter grade in each category based on a best-practices grading scale.

Highlights of the research revealed:

  • Like other industries, nearly 25% of automotive dealers in the study did not respond to a direct sales inquiry from their website
  • Out of the nine industries researched, the automotive dealers demonstrated the best results in promptness: 96% of those who responded to the lead did so within 24 hours, and 100% responded within three days
  • Automotive dealers ranked well in persistence against other industries, with 57% demonstrating the recommended level of persistence and 91% making three or more attempts
  • Of the dealers that responded with emails, more than 86% had some of the key personalization elements included. Just 14% received a poor rank because of a complete lack of personalization

In the overall research results published earlier this year, three of the highest-ranking companies were automotive dealerships, and one dealership was the only business across all industries to receive an A grade in all four categories.

The most consistent factor among companies with an A grade was persistence – all dealerships with an overall A grade received an A in this category. In addition, automotive dealers ranked much higher than companies in other industries for persistence, with 57% receiving A grades.

“As with our overall research published earlier this year, I’m both excited and frustrated by the results specific to the automotive industry,” said Alex Terry, CEO of Conversica. “On the one hand, dealers are performing the best of any industry we studied. On the other, there’s still lots of room for improvement, with nearly 25% of dealers we secret shopped not responding at all to our inquiry.”

“For the dealers that follow up promptly, persistently and with personalized outreach, the benefits are clear: more engagement with leads, more showroom visits, more sold cars,” continued Terry. “Those that don’t should look to this report’s recommendations to make immediate improvements that can boost sales.”

The report was derived from research conducted over two months using secret shopper personas seeking information about each company’s product or service. In each case, the secret shopper presented themself as a “hot lead” by submitting a website inquiry or sending an email request to the company’s published “contact us” address. Both email and telephone responses were tracked, tallied and assessed to determine grades.

“Our research also suggests that email is surpassing phone contact as the fastest way to reach leads, and it is the easiest method to use persistently.” added Terry. “As more companies transition to email communication with leads, crafting emails that reach the inbox becomes increasingly essential.”

Conversica’s findings revealed where the automotive industry stands in comparison to other industries, which factors are strong predictors of success or failure, and what practical steps can be taken to align an automotive sales team with best practices.

Conversica’s Sales Effectiveness Report: Lead Follow-Up in the Automotive Industry breaks down company performance and compares it with the eight other industries included: five B2C (Brokerage, Education, Insurance, Mortgage and Real Estate) and three B2B (Technology, Media/Publishing and Telecommunications). The full report can be downloaded at here, and companies may request their own personalized assessment at here.