Buyer Detection Techniques Help Dealers Move More Cars

Analytics and big data are frequently used terms in the automotive world these days—and many dealers are ready to take the next step in mining their data to help boost sales. One emerging trend in this area is called buyer detection, which has been proven to help dealers significantly improve sales close rates.

What Is It?

Buyer detection is about making big data actionable. By collecting and analyzing online automotive shopping activity, email engagement, website activity, and the dealer’s offline sales and service data, then using that data to identify in-market buyers, dealers can arm their sales team with the information it needs to focus its sales efforts and close more deals.

Buyer Detection Benefits

Buyer detection gives dealers the ability to track individual customer activities across much of the automotive web, scores their likelihood to be in-market for a vehicle, and empowers them to intelligently engage those buyers at the right time.

The three main issues addressed via buyer detection techniques are:

  • Which customers are actually ready to buy? This allows dealers to focus on customers who are most likely to buy in the short term.
  • What are your customers shopping for online? Outsell has found that 24% of people researching vehicles on a dealership website are shopping specific vehicle inventory—if not a certain model, then certainly a style such as sedan or SUV. This data is extremely valuable to a dealer.
  • Which customers are considering defecting from your brand for their next vehicle? Of that 24% with a specific type of vehicle in mind, 40% of them are shopping multiple brands, and one in five are primarily interested in a brand other than yours. However, more than 99% of the original 24% have purchased a car from you before. Knowing about these in-market customers can give your sales team the edge it needs to bring them back into the fold.

Buyer detection reveals complete profiles of customers and prospects, from their online shopping activity to recent email clicks and service bay visits. When dealers understand not only who to call, but how to approach the conversation, their rates of success increase—dealers employing buyer detection have seen conversion rates increase as much as 447%.

Dealers can also use buyer detection to understand who the competition is and make sure their sales staff is trained to highlight how their brand’s models stack up. This can help win business that might have otherwise gone elsewhere—data shows that 42% of people who converted to the dealer’s primary brand were identified through buyer detection had been shopping competitively.

Tracking what customers are searching for can also provide clues as to how to manage your inventory. If you notice that few customers are searching for convertibles but many are searching for pickups, you could choose to load your inventory with fewer of the former and more of the latter to make sure your overall inventory matches customer needs.

How to Get Started

Interested in getting started with buyer detection? Doing it on your own is not easy—you’d need to create a data warehouse for all your internal data, purchase additional data from third parties, and hire a data scientist or predictive modeler to crunch the numbers. Not many dealers have those kinds of resources.

Fortunately, new services are cropping up that enable dealers to outsource the effort. Your brand or regional dealer network may already have a resource that’s available to dealers—that would be a great place to start.

Buyer detection is a highly effective new weapon in the dealer’s arsenal. If you know what customers are looking for, you can have better conversations and build stronger relationships with them. The results speak for themselves—with an average time-to-convert of less than 40 days, dealers who utilize buyer detection are seeing shorter sales cycles and getting in front of those customers likely to be in market—before their competitors do.

In the end, it’s about selling smarter, not harder.

Dan Smith, CMO of Outsell LLC (, is an innovative software marketing executive with over 20 years of experience in the enterprise software industry and extensive expertise in direct and interactive marketing, behavior monitoring, enterprise application integration, and CRM. Outsell continues to lead the market with its award-winning Outsell Fuel customer-engagement platform, and driving the ongoing evolution of its cross-channel marketing tools, turnkey programs, and analytic insights for leading automotive brands and their dealers.

Dan Smith


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