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  • Lucie Gauvreau

What is an Automotive Sales Funnel And How Can it Help You Sell More Vehicles?

In its simplest form, a sales funnel is a system allowing you to turn leads into sales.

The sales funnel consists of a number of steps, and like a real funnel, it moves from the largest to the smallest opening. Every step along the way is a continual qualification of the lead in order to get the sale or allow the prospect to get out. All of your leads will enter into your sales cycle at the largest funnel opening.


When you are attracting new leads, you need to use something to attract them in your funnel, but unfortunately these type of "bait" or “lead magnets” may not always be the most selective. This means that you will most probably end up with many unqualified leads that have been attracted to your offer but are not necessarily ready to buy now.

For example, tent sales, blowouts or any of the other sales that attract everyone to the lot, like free hot dogs or large-screen television giveaways, are less likely to generate the types of leads that will result in sales, but they will put a lot of people into your sales funnel. When you do these events, you have to keep in mind that your leads will not only be less qualified; they are also going to take up your sales staff's time.

At the other end of the spectrum, if your manufacturer has a rebate program and you run ads to complement the program and draw attention to your product, you do not expect everyone who sees the ad to respond; but if you make it attractive enough, serious buyers will notice.

This type of lead is more likely to make it through your sales funnel than someone who just came in to see if they won a prize. The secret is to find the sweet spot with your bait or lead magnet. Something that will provide enough quality leads but something that will also allow your team to have a steady flow of leads to talk to throughout the month.


For the following illustration, let’s say you were able to draw a crowd of 50 from an APR marketing promotion on Facebook, Adwords and Social Media ads. A promotion you also promoted with the takeover of the front page of your main website and a blog post that you shared in your Facebook group and tweeted to your followers.

The ad for the attractive APR worked, and people came to your dealership. Now that you have attracted them, you need to interact with them by building a rapport and establishing yourself as an authority on the vehicle and the financing program.

You know this as pre-qualifying. It is where your sales staff finds out if all the decision makers are there, if they like the vehicle, and if they are ready to buy.

Out of the 50 that your sales staff is talking with, only 20 percent have met the above qualifications. That narrows the funnel down to 10 prospects.

During this interaction phase, the sales staff will help them select the car that suits their needs by asking them qualifying questions about their needs.

The trick at this phase is to measure everything conversion point so you can redo the experiment with different bait or lead magnet. You might be surprised to find that a different bait attracts fewer visitors but a higher percentage of interactions while another bait might attract more visitors with less interaction potential.

If you don’t measure your bait to interaction ratio, you’ll only be guessing every time to do a promotion.


To continue on our example, let’s say the ten prospects are looking at the vehicles and taking test drives as your staff helps them find the right car, truck, SUV or crossover. Your staff has confirmed that the prospects are interested in the financing deal and that they are in the market for a vehicle.

During this phase, you may find that you lose some of your prospects, thus making the number of leads in the funnel less numerous and the funnel even narrower because they may not be able to decide upon a vehicle that you have in stock, or they may not qualify for the APR financing because the payments are out of their budget.

Any number of things can happen in this phase, which is why there should always be multiple people moving through the funnel at all times.

IMPORTANT: Just as your dealership has a sales funnel, your sales staff should also have their own as they work their prospects by calling back phone ups, online leads, social media connections, and walk-ins.

For illustration purposes, let us say that you can preliminarily close 40 percent of the prospects at this stage. This means that four prospects have signed the buyer's order and have agreed to a vehicle and a price.

They now enter the last phase of the funnel, which has the narrowest opening.


The four committed prospects that you have will write you a check, sign the contract or give you cash for the vehicle at this point.

Here is where you may lose 50 percent, or two, of those who were committed.

• They do not like the payments, even with the promo rate.

• They do not like the trade-in allowance.

• They did not understand the terms or conditions.

• They have talked themselves out of the vehicle.

• They have doubts about the value of the vehicle.

• They have personality conflicts with the managers.

• They do not have the down payment.

It doesn’t matter what the reason is, if they do not close, you have to go back through the funnel and work at it again. It may be that something was missed in the pre-qualifying, so your sales staff has to go back to the interaction phase.

Again, what’s important is to measure everything and have a content marketing strategy that can help move people towards the bottom of the funnel if they decide to leave the dealership before buying or re-ignite quality prospects who decided to check themselves out of your funnel.

If two of the customer signed the contract, gave you the cash and drove off the lot, they have made it through the entire sales funnel. This means that you have closed four percent of the prospects.

The average is 10 percent, so if you are not closing enough, you have to find out where you lost the other three prospects. They may not have been as pre-qualified as they appeared or you might have to go back to the very start and find a new bait or lead-magnet.


If you need help creating exciting baits or lead magnets to fill your funnel or create content to supplement your content marketing strategy to help prospects move towards a deal; don’t hesitate to contact the automotive funnel experts of Turbo Marketing Solutions. We will gladly make you get better leads and increase the number of prospects who reach the bottom of the funnel.

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