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Beware of the Mystery Lead Beware of the Mystery Lead

Beware of the Mystery Lead – April 2016

When I think back to the days of running an Internet department, I have many fond memories. I loved the hustle and bustle of the dealership and the smiles on the faces of people driving away in their new car.

I set up my BDC so that I was in the same area as my team and one thing I heard from my team back then was the dreaded, “This person said they never submitted a lead and wants to know how I got their information.”

In my dealership days, this “mystery lead” would frustrate me. I felt like I paid for an opportunity that was now deemed useless to my dealership. As I learned more, I realized this thought process doesn’t make sense and, dare I say in most cases, is a misleading statement from the consumer. Let me share ways you and your team can work the lead smarter to avoid frustration and ultimately help you win the sale.

First, all lead sources in the Autobytel New Car Advertising Network are Dealer Select based. This means the consumer has to select which dealership(s) they want to submit their contact information to and receive information from. The average person selects 2 dealerships to compare.
Now, let’s say I’m in the market for a new Porsche 911 Coupe (hey, I can dream big – it’s my scenario). I do my research at and then decide it’s time to request a quote from a dealer. The first thing the site asks me for is the Make and Model I’m interested in, along with my zip code.

Contrary to popular belief, my computer does not automatically know this information telepathically so I must physically enter the information myself. (Hint – your customers' computers aren’t telepathic either).

Once I hit the continue button, I’m shown the dealership(s) that currently receives leads on the model I’ve selected in the zip code I’ve entered and I have the opportunity to request more information by filling in my name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Notice that no one is twisting my arm to fill out the information and once again, my computer cannot telepathically enter the data for me.

Now that you understand the steps it takes to submit an inquiry through the Autobytel Network, is it really plausible that the shopper really has no idea how you got their information and are shocked that you are calling?   We recommend that you set up your Autobytel program with a personal message.  In addition, shoppers will automatically receive an email from Autobytel letting them know you'll be calling.  So there really are no surprises, nor is there anything fishy going on!

At this point, let’s consider just a few of the things the shopper might be saying to you:

  • “I’ve had a bad car buying experience in the past and I’m not ready to talk to you yet.”
  • “I’m still researching and am not ready to talk to you yet.”
  • “I’m not ready for the pressure yet.” 
  • “I asked for a price quote and you didn’t send one. Why should I talk to you if you can’t give me what I want?”
  • “I don’t trust you.”
  • “Another dealer responded already with the information need.”

What should you do? Here are a few tips to respect the shopper while still maintaining your follow up.

  1. Don’t give up but don’t hound them either. Respect that they aren’t ready to talk to you.


  1. Send them a price quote – it’s what they asked for to begin with.


  1. Offer your assistance. Let them know that you’re here to help them and want to make the process as easy as possible for them.


  1. Don’t hound them about coming in for a test drive. Just continue to feed them the information they’re looking for.


  1. Continue your normal 90-120 day follow up procedure via email.


  1. Follow up periodically with emails about incentives and specials, as well as used car inventory that is comparable to their initial request.


  1. NEVER, EVER, under any circumstances call the shopper a lead. In fact, the word "lead" should never leave your mouth when talking to a shopper during any conversation.

In most cases, when our team connects with the lead in question, the shopper tells us they simply didn’t want to speak to the dealership yet.

Until next time - happy car selling!

Cassie Perkins is Sr. Manager, Account Management Team and Programs for Autobytel, offering the industry a full suite of high quality lead products and advertising services, including Autobytel Direct pay-per-click advertising, TextShield, SaleMove, and Payment Pro. For more information, text or call (949) 431-6256 or email For more dealer training, tips, advice, and news, visit

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Scott Pechstein

Vice President National Sales (844) 205-9097

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