• Treat each lead as a potential client from the beginning.
  • Provide specific information, and offer guidance.
  • Respect your leads' communication preferences.
CandyBox Images / Shutterstock.com

CandyBox Images / Shutterstock.com

As part of a marketing team, I spend a lot of time creating systems to attract leads, but I rarely become one.

However, when my car died recently I suddenly found myself in that situation.

My week-long car-buying experience was an interesting microcosm of lead conversion. As is the case with many car shoppers and home shoppers alike, my search began online — thus making me an online lead to be converted to a real life sale.

Most homeshoppers begin on a site such as realtor.com, Redfin or Zillow. For car shoppers, sites such as CarMax, TrueCar, Edmunds or KBB are the usual first stops. However, it’s when the experience switches from one of these sites to a local dealership that the true conversion process begins.

In my case, I had to get a car as soon as possible, and I was ready and able to spend money, but I found that many salespeople weren’t able to do what it took to convert me.

Some of the most basic steps were missed. I also found that the chat service — now ubiquitous on websites — were, for the most part, not very helpful. Here are a few other things I learned about online lead conversion from this experience.

1. Be careful handing off leads

I bought my car with a dealership where I had one point of contact throughout the search process. Some of the other dealerships I contacted either passed me to multiple people or blitzed me with several contacts at once.

2. Pay attention to communication preferences

I prefer email or text and always specify that on forms. However, I noticed that several people ignored that on lead forms and called me multiple times.

The salesperson I worked with did need to talk to me by phone several times, but she asked me first and respected my desire to communicate mostly via email.

3. Avoid the bait-and-switch

Search processes are never perfect, and a lot of times, what’s online might not be available. When that’s the case, provide alternative options. Be specific when possible.

Several times I spoke with dealerships that told me they didn’t have the car I inquired about, and then, when I asked about others, they told me to search the website instead of providing me with specific options.

4. Ask the right questions

Not one of the people I worked with asked me why I needed a new car or about my commute and lifestyle. They assumed that I’d done all the research to know exactly what I wanted and seemed to have little or no curiosity about whether the car I’d chosen was truly right for me.

I’ve noticed the same thing with real estate agents; some let the consumer guide the search — but often the consumer could benefit from your expertise.

5. Know your products

This should be pretty basic; you should know and love what you are selling. That doesn’t mean you need to go into hyper-salesperson mode.

It simply means that showing a home or car, at any budget or price point, should convey some level of excitement. Too often the sales experience becomes one where the product is presented but not really sold.

There’s a certain vulnerability that comes with needing a new home or car. It’s an emotional time. Although it might seem commonplace for us because we handle these types of transactions on a daily basis, it’s an anomaly in your prospect’s life.

The salesperson I bought from got my business because she spent time with me, she provided specific guidance without steering me in any direction, and she respected my preferences.

Knowledge, compassion and commitment to customer service can help turn the online lead into a new client.

Deidre Woollard is head of communications at Partners Trust, a luxury real estate brokerage in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter: @Deidre.

Email Deidre Woollard.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription