Special Coverage

NADA Convention & Exposition

LAS VEGAS – Want to hear the newest buzzwords for dealership Internet departments? “Lead scoring.”

That’s right. Sometime in the next year, leads coming into your Internet department likely will have some sort of value score attached to them.

The idea is not to separate “good” leads from the so-called “bad” leads, but rather to provide information that helps dealers better understand where those leads are in the buying funnel, says Mike Spadafore, global product strategist for R.L. Polk and Co.

The automotive marketing and data solutions firm announced in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention here that it is piloting two separate lead scoring products, one with a top-10 dealer group and one for an auto maker.

Spadafore declines to disclose the partners but believes the products will be ready for the market sometime this summer.

Another company, Urban Science, last year began the conversation on lead scoring but is focusing on products designed for auto makers.

Although dealers historically have complained about receiving poor leads from the lead providers, many dealers, especially those with sophisticated Internet processes, cringe when they hear talk about lead scoring.

That’s because they believe it might cause their sales staffs to cherry-pick leads – in other words, work the leads they think have a better chance of being sold.

Sales people, for the most part, already score the leads, albeit without proper information. According to the latest Polk study, 31% of all Internet leads do not receive a response. It is likely sales people consider those leads to be “bad,” hence, the lack of response.

The problem is most leads are not “bad,” but rather are shoppers who may not be ready to buy. It still is important to respond to them. But how a dealership responds to each lead may differ, depending on where they are in the process.

Polk says it can marry its vast customer data to online leads to determine where each shopper is in the buying process. It also will provide dealerships with information on how to respond to each of the leads.

“Right now, we’re refining what data is most useful to the dealer, while complying with all of the privacy laws,” Spadafore says. “We want to take each lead and make it more valuable to the dealers.”

cbanks@wardsauto.com