I’ve been asked recently for benchmarks on closing ratios for dealers.

The frequency of the question, I suspect, follows the fundamental change in the way today’s new/used vehicle shoppers zero in on a potential purchase. As most dealers are aware, shoppers do the bulk of their homework and research online. On average, they visit fewer than two dealerships to ink their next vehicle deal.

'If this doesn't get them into the showroom, nothing will.' (customers following line of money.)This dynamic makes it ever-more important for dealers to make the most of the in-store opportunities that come their way. Statistically speaking, it’s a near-certainty that if the customer doesn’t say “yes” and buy your car, another dealer will get the deal.

I asked some top-performing dealers for their closing ratio stats to offer some number-crunched benchmarks:

Internet: 15 percent

Phone: 20 percent

Walk-in: 40 percent to 50 percent

Note: Some dealers rely a simpler closing ratio rule of thumb. They expect to close at least 50 percent of every showroom opportunity, irrespective of the source.

The dealers also shared an insight: More and more, their closing ratios depend on the consistent execution of customer-centric processes, rather than people you’d consider to be “closers.”

“Our sales process starts online with our listings,” a Colorado dealer says. “From there, our people follow a process that facilitates, rather than forces, customers to make their decisions. When everyone does their part, and follows the process, we keep more business than we let go.”