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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Vehicle Descriptions - Do You Want More Leads or Fewer Leads that are Better Qualified?

Whenever I buy or sell a vehicle, I like to consider things that a dealer would normally face when marketing their vehicles. One such topic (which I've actually touched on in previous posts) is the age-old question of which is better, receiving a high number of leads (including, in large part, the tire-kickers), or receiving a much smaller number of leads that are better-qualified? Selling a vehicle recently I evaluated this question and have come to my own personal conclusion: more leads are better, even if many of them seem to be people who are bored and want to talk on the phone.

I had my 2004 Jeep for about 3 and a half years. For the past year and a half, I've had it listed on Autotrader with a high price on a run 'til sold listing, simply because even though I loved the car, if someone wanted it at my high price, I'd be willing to part with it. I'd get an occasional email about it, but nothing ever materialized. A few months ago I purchased a newer Jeep, so it was time to get serious about selling mine. I dropped the price so it was below Kelley Blue Book, wrote up a nice description, and had it listed on both sites.

Once I got serious and had a more reasonable price, the calls/emails ramped up a bit. Exactly what one would expect. I let the ad sit on both sites with the new price/description, but I still wasn't impressed with the results. I'd get people contacting me that were serious buyers, but nobody actually pulled the trigger on the purchase. I thought the price was right so maybe it was likely due to a lengthy description (credit due to my girlfriend for pointing this out too, and making me change it). I changed my 2-3 paragraph description to just a few sentences, being intentionally vague, and all of a sudden the phone began ringing again. Long story short, the shorter ad generated an immediate response, and the car sold within 48 hours of making that change. The take-away from this is that as a general statement, people are pretty lazy. People didn't want to read about all of the new parts I had installed, the difference between an Overland and a Laredo, or anything else I had written. Getting more leads meant I at least had the chance to sell them, whereas fewer leads meant many who may have been interested, simply didn't initiate the sales process.

What I learned from this (or more accurately, what I confirmed) is that for me personally, it was helpful to generate more leads, even if many of those were just asking questions that could have been answered by a long narrative description. It meant that it was on me to sell the vehicle, not the ad. In a dealership setting, I would recommend a balance...tell enough about the car to begin building value, but don't try to sell it before the customer even contacts you. For those dealers who write a lot as I'm inclined to be somewhat long-winded, you're going to turn some legitimate buyers away simply because they don't want to read everything you wrote. Just as price point is very important when selling, the description is equally important, and that includes the length of your description. Again, this is not really a revelation, but confirmation to me.

On a side note, I ran an experiment several years ago in the post "Will Cars Sell Better on Craigslist or Autotrader?" in which my vehicle ultimately got better response (and sold) as a result of Craigslist. That was many years ago, but it appears that Craigslist still outperformed Autotrader for my vehicle in 2014.