How well do you rate your dealership when it comes to handling inbound phone calls? The answer may weigh heavily on your sales. A recent study by Cox Automotive found that phone calls account for 26 percent of car buyers’ first contacts with car dealerships. This figure is second only to walk-in visits. Now a new study by call analytics group Marchex has found that at least 28 percent of auto buyers who make a call to a dealership will purchase a vehicle. Essentially, if you’re letting calls go unanswered – or putting them at low priority – you’re letting vehicles go unsold.

There’s a lot of emphasis today on Internet shopping for vehicles. This often leads us to forget that Internet shopping often ends with a customer clicking a link to connect a call. Web-savvy customers are producing MORE phone calls to dealers. Not fewer.

“With mobile adoption, consumers can research online and click-to-call car dealers in real-time, showing a high intent to purchase, said Matt Muilenburg, head of automotive at Marchex. “It’s clear that phone calls not only matter to businesses but are a viable revenue source for brands – especially within the auto industry. To make the most of these inbound leads, for both sales and service, dealerships need to be able to identify callers with intent to purchase and ensure employees know how to manage those calls.”

Having better visibility into your call trends, call handling practices and caller intent can help you convert more of those inbound calls into purchasers. Training can help, too, as many sales people are skilled when they’re face-to-face with customers, but not-so-skilled when it comes to the phone.

“With so much emphasis these days on digital marketing, it’s easy to shunt phone leads off to the side,” wrote Cantin Automotive Insider’s Al Bredenberg in a recent article entitled, “Boost Sales through Better Call Handling. “In reality, though, marketers who tolerate failed or mishandled calls are leaving money on the table.”

To compile the most recent study, the Marchex Institute used speech analytics to analyze more than 307,000 calls to over 650 dealerships across the U.S. in 2018. Results from the study illustrate the importance of phone calls in the customer path to purchase and how service agents play a critical role in helping increase sales and revenue via proper management of inbound calls.