IRVINE, Calif. -- Autobytel Inc., an automotive marketing services company, has added Autobytel LeadCall, a live call program, to its catalog of dealer marketing services.

The live call program, which is set to launch in August, is customized to set in-dealership 'VIP' appointments and to score each customer's "readiness to buy."

The new program, which is the latest effort in Autobytel's continuing commitment to deliver innovation and real-world value to its dealer base, can increase closing ratios by efficiently moving Internet customers off-line and into the dealership for appointments. Designed to reduce dealership labor costs, while providing a quality customer experience for online car buyers, Autobytel LeadCall offers dealers a better way of managing and following up on online leads.

"In these challenging times, Autobytel is pleased to be able to offer dealers a customized and cost-effective live call solution to the problem of having too many leads, and not enough personnel," said Mark Garms, Autobytel's senior vice president of dealer operations and strategy. "By removing one of the most time-consuming and frustrating aspects of the sales process - getting the customer into the dealership - Autobytel LeadCall can free up sales staff to spend less time scheduling appointments and more time converting sales."

Because customers can be difficult to reach, Autobytel's LeadCall program supplements the dealership's initial follow-up process with eight live call attempts over a three-day period. The trained Autobytel LeadCall specialists only interact with customers on a "live" basis - no messages are ever left - and focus on setting in-dealership VIP appointments.

After an appointment is confirmed, fax and email updates are sent to the dealership detailing each customer's specific needs, scoring the lead in terms of "buy readiness" and providing an action plan summary that states what the customer is hoping to accomplish. Whether it's scheduling a test drive or getting an appraisal for a trade-in, the sales staff will be prepared for each customer and able to customize his or her service. In addition, dealers will receive monthly summary reports and be able to measure increases in contact rates to help determine their return on investment.

Autobytel tested its LeadCall program ran from May to July 2008 and was met with glowing reviews by dealers.

"The best thing about this program is that I didn’t have to do anything except provide Autobytel LeadCall with my dealership business hours," said Patrick Coyle, corporate Internet director for Andy Mohr Group. "Autobytel LeadCall is a turn-key personalized contact solution that has helped me build better customer relationships and sell more cars."

"The Autobytel LeadCall Specialist turned my Internet leads into appointments so I could spend my time turning appointments into sales," said Eric Davis, e-commerce director for Butler Toyota.