Understanding the car sales funnel

Aug 24, 2022Industry Trends

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There’s simply no denying it, securing those all-important sales at your dealership is what drives business. However, in this day and age – with competition between businesses in the automotive industry in its prime – converting potential leads into successful sales, and what’s more, turning those customers into returning shoppers can be challenging. A successful auto sales funnel can be what gets your dealership ahead of the competition. 

A well-thought-out configured sales funnel can completely transform your marketing and sales strategy, and ultimately has the potential to significantly boost your monthly sales numbers. If you’re not already making the most of the sales funnel process then you’re seriously missing out. Here, we look into what the car sales funnel is and how you can take advantage of it at your dealership.

What is a car sales funnel?

In short, a car sales funnel is a customer-focused marketing model that’s shaped around the shopping journey, from the moment your dealership first engages with a potential lead, right up until their final sale or the last interaction they have with your business. Simply put, they allow you to measure how many of your customers enter the funnel as potential leads and how many of them actually end up purchasing a vehicle or service at your dealership. 

It’s important to recognize – and accept – that your car sales funnel will probably not be perfect straight away. And, you will continue to change and amend your sales funnel as you get to know your customers better, and as the industry around you evolves too.

How can a car sales funnel benefit your dealership?

Car sales funnels help you understand the shopping process. And, creating a sales funnel model enables you, as a dealership, to align your marketing strategy to suit every stage of the shopping journey. This, in turn, will help you to convert more leads to sales, which will enhance your sales process, support your customer service and ultimately generate more income for your business. 

The benefits of the car sales funnel for your dealership include:

  • Improves the chances of your dealership retaining customers 
  • Increase the regular income you can make from a single customer, by nurturing their shopping journey
  • Grows profits and sales figures
  • Allows your dealership to monitor and track each stage of the sales process
  • Improves your marketing and sales strategy
  • Reduces the amount of unnecessary advertising and marketing costs

The stages of a customer’s shopping journey

Your car sales funnel is centered entirely around your customer’s shopping journey – a shopping journey made up of three main stages: Awareness, consideration, and decision-making. Remember, each potential lead is different, and so might travel through your car sales funnel differently, but as a dealership, it’s important that you make sure your marketing strategy can support each stage of the car shopper’s journey. Your marketing and sales process should align with the shopping journey, ensuring that every possible customer touchpoint helps to optimize the potential sale. 


The awareness stage is at the top of your car sales funnel and is at the point where potential leads are just starting to consider their options. They might not be necessarily shopping for a new car, but it’s something that’s on their radar. This is the widest part of your car sales funnel, as there will be a lot of people entering here.

During this phase, you want your dealership to be at the forefront of the customer’s mind, so when they start their shopping process, they visit your business first. The information you provide them with here will hopefully encourage them to engage with your dealership, either by visiting you, clicking on your website, or picking up the phone and giving you a call. Think of the awareness stage as the ‘magnet’ that attracts potential leads – or even complete strangers – to your dealership.

Types of marketing techniques that support the awareness phase include:

  • Radio or television adverts
  • Print billboards
  • Online advertising (including Google ads and social media adverts). Use the SnapCell app to create professional-looking videos, ideal for powerful online advertising.
  • Email campaigns
  • Pop-up stalls
  • Hosting a local event or attending a local event

Consider investing in blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media advertising here, to give your dealership more exposure to a wider audience and increase brand awareness. 


Once the customer has officially started the shopping process, they will then be formulating some sort of shortlisting of vehicles and dealerships. In fact, research has shown that six out of 10 car buyers are undecided during those initial stages, so it’s worth pulling out all the stops to influence their decision.

Think of the consideration stage as the middle man. By this time, the chances are you’ve captured the customer’s attention, and now it’s time for you to create a seamless, effortless pathway for the shopper, as they head towards the decision-making phase. 

Types of marketing techniques that support the consideration phase include:

  • Targeted adverts
  • Email marketing
  • Social media posts (more than 85 percent of people revealed they researched cars using social media before making a purchase
  • Video ads (around 70 percent of shoppers admit that YouTube influences their vehicle buying decisions)
  • Optimizing your website with strong Google keywords
  • Create vehicle comparison guides for potential leads. Take things up a gear by using SnapCell and creating a video of your team comparing vehicles, that you can then send out via email or use on your social media.

During the consideration stage, it’s also fundamental to ensure any touchpoints your customers might engage with are up to scratch. It’s during this phase that you’re essentially proving to the customer that your dealership is trustworthy and reputable. With this in mind, you should spend time looking at your website and social media:

  • Your website needs to look professional and work efficiently (for example, sharp imagery, engaging content, eye-catching branding)
  • Your social media channel needs to look sharp, have up-to-date contact information, and bursting with engaging posts

During this phase, your car sales funnel will gradually narrow, as potential leads will drop off. This is nothing to necessarily worry about, but instead, use this as an opportunity to analyze and evaluate why you’re losing potential leads at this stage.


It’s during the decision-making phase that each potential lead will ultimately decide whether they want to spend money at your dealership or not. This is the narrowest part of the funnel. 

All of your hard work throughout the first two phases will have finally paid off, and potential leads will be ready to engage with your dealership. It’s at this point that you want to turn your focus to getting the customer into your dealership, and test-driving one of your vehicles. Each individual interaction your dealership has with leads during the decision-making phase is important and will influence whether you make a sale or not. 

On average, a customer will visit your dealership twice in person during the car buying process. This means that during this phase, it’s important to focus on enhancing the entire shopping experience, which means optimizing your digital marketing techniques. 

Personalization, responsiveness and efficiently communicating with customers are key during this phase. Make sure you use your Customer Relationships Management (CRM) System to ensure communications with customers are consistent across all times.

During this phase, you should:

  • Send personalized emails. Use SnapCell to create bespoke, customized email content to send to potential leads. The SnapCell app makes it easier than ever for automotive professionals to create engaging and customizable video content at the push of a button. Try addressing the customer by their name, refer to a specific model or make of vehicle that they might be interested in, and include a call to action for ultimate results.
  • Introduce loyalty programs
  • Advertise offers and deals
  • Use SnapCell to record vehicle demonstrations, ‘how-to’ clips, and showroom walkarounds, that can be used across your social media
  • Encourage customers to engage with your dealership using SnapCell Live. SnapCell Live is a form of live video chat, which gives your dealership the chance to converse with customers and build relationships with shoppers, but virtually. SnapCell Live could also be used to host live demonstrations for potential leads too. Live video is an extremely powerful tool during the decision-making process as it effectively allows your sales team to make their banging sales pitch, but without the customer actually visiting your dealership. Simply put, live video can be pivotal to the success of a sale or not.

Remember, the shopping process doesn’t stop there. Once a lead is complete, you should encourage positive testimonials and reviews – these will also help your dealership during the ‘awareness’ and ‘consideration’ phases of the car sales funnel too.

Evaluating and analyzing your car sales funnel

In short, a car sales funnel is the smooth process involved in transforming a cold customer into a returning shopper. And ultimately, the goal is to make every new shopper a retained customer. 

Whether you clinch the sale successfully, or you lose a potential lead at some point throughout your car sales funnel, it’s important that you always go back and measure what worked and of course, what didn’t. Use evaluation tools to track and measure your sales techniques, so that you can make improvements where necessary. 

It’s worth noting that one of the many benefits of using SnapCell is its ability to create custom reports that allow you to track KPIs that are relevant and important to your dealership. You will be able to measure the success of your sent videos and messages, including open rate, viewing rate, and whether your dealership managed to close a deal or not.

Your car sales funnel should also be customized to suit your audience type, your dealership, and your individual targets. This should all be taken into consideration before you produce your initial sale funnel. 

Find marketing techniques to suit your dealership. Mix it up, try and test different practices – and don’t lose motivation if certain techniques don’t work for you. Think of your car sales funnel as a work in progress and be open to improving and updating your sales process when necessary. 

Use SnapCell to improve your car sales funnel

As we continue to adapt our marketing and sales strategies to suit the digital revolution, there’s never been a more important time to ensure video is included throughout your car sales funnel. In fact, videos can undoubtedly be used as a powerful tool throughout every phase of your car sales funnel – especially as 75 percent of automotive shoppers admit that online video has influenced their shopping habits or purchases.

We get it though, the idea of regularly creating professional-looking videos can seem daunting, overwhelming, and time-consuming. Thanks to SnapCell, video creation has never been easier. Created with automotive professionals in mind, the SnapCell app allows your staff members to seamlessly create videos at the touch of a button. Schedule your SnapCell demo today.

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