Years ago, dealers perceived third-party lead providers as an enemy threatening to take over the automotive retail business. While some dealers still harbor some animosity from those days, other dealers recognize the value lead providers create.

According to a recent survey of 632 dealers, 29% say the ability to capture new markets is the number 1 benefit they get from using lead providers. Other benefits include increased sales and higher closing ratios and more leads and increased traffic.

The dealers surveyed buy leads from an average of 4.4 lead providers.

The study, commissioned by lead provider AutoUSA, also shows the majority of dealers say quality leads include valid contact information and are customers ready to purchase.

In addition to buying leads from third-party vendors, dealers are looking at other Web-based channels to drive traffic with 70% of the dealers saying they are interested in search-engine optimization and pay-per-click advertising.