Early-stage shoppers are an elusive bunch. They’re in-market, browsing your site for critical information. But they’re not ready to buy, and will bounce at the slightest distraction.

This is not the case with later stage shoppers, or soft-stage leads. These customers are further along the buying cycle, which makes them more proactive. They are willing to wait 45 seconds for a chat response, or commit 10 minutes to filling out an approval form. When you capture these leads, they bring valuable business to your dealership because they are nearly ready to close. But to be honest, capturing them is not all that difficult. They’ve come to you looking to buy now. Early-stage leads are the hard ones. Grabbing their attention takes much more finesse.


What’s the point of capturing early-stage shoppers, those hard-stage leads who are weeks away from actually buying? Why invest your time and energy in them?

Because early lead capture is the key factor to setting your dealership apart, beating your competition, and boosting your sales.

Here’s why:

  • Converting leads earlier starts the conversation earlier. When you capture leads in early stages, you have the opportunity to establish your dealership as their one-stop shop for every step of the buying cycle. Provide these customers with the information and value they need and they will turn to you when they are ready to buy.
  • When you speak to customers early, you accelerate the buying process.Think about your most confusing and overwhelming purchase. Maybe it was a house, or a dream vacation. If you had someone you trusted to answer your questions from the time you started considering buying, you would save a lot of mental energy– and probably a lot of time. Be this trusted advisor to early-stage shoppers and get them into a vehicle faster. 
  • Early-stage lead capture means more customers for you. That means fewer customers for your competitors. Why would someone turn to the dealership down the road when you have been their trusted advisor since the beginning? If you capture leads in the earliest stages, you take away your competition’s way in. You become the clear destination for every step of the buying cycle.

What’s the main effect of capturing early-stage shoppers? You’ll make more sales. Put in the effort to grab these leads early on and you will earn loyal customers who turn to you instead of your competition.


There’s an important caveat to keep in mind when working with earlier-stage leads: your closing rates may initially seem lower. Based on our client examples, early-stage leads will often close at 6-10%, whereas later-stage leads may close at >10% and even up to 30%. This is actually good news, for two reasons: first, the closes you get from early-stage leads, leads that are so difficult to capture, are a bonus on your monthly total. Second, over time, you will close more of the early-stage leads. Even if at first only 6-10% of them close to sale, with the right engagement and nurturing, many more will eventually close.

Which brings us to the how of early-stage lead capture. To form crucial relationships with early-stage buyers and bring your dealership more sales, think beyond the sale, or rather, think ahead of it. What do your customers need in these early stages, before they are ready to buy? With the right kind of engagement on your site, you can grab the attention of early-stage shoppers and help them turn to you, so that they eventually convert, and close at your dealership.

Join AutoLeadStar at our presentation at the CBT Conference, where we will discuss engaging and capturing early-stage buyers to take your dealership’s success to the next level.


Ilana Zur, Head of Business Development at AutoLeadStar. Ilana will be speaking at the 2017 CBT Conference.


Learn more about Ilana in her speaker profile page.

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