HOUSTON CAR-Research XRM, a CRM solution provider, released on Monday findings from its study of the top 10 reasons why car buyers leave a dealership without buying. Based on these survey results, Car-Research XRM determined that customers do not always tell the dealership the real reason they are leaving. Instead, they make up a false excuse designed to let them leave the dealership gracefully. 

Sales and management staff issues ranked as the highest single reason (27 percent) customers abandoned the sales process at dealerships. The sales and management staff issues reported by survey respondents included the following: 

• Rude and disrespectful treatment by sales personnel.

• Sales staff not being knowledgeable about product or financing information.

• Appointments not kept by the proper sales staff member that customer was expecting to meet with.

• Condescending attitude and not working directly with or talking to a female when a male was present with her.

• Not being respectful of customers time by back and forth communication with sales desk manager.

• Manager that took a turn was seen as rude or too pushy and lacked empathy for them.

The survey also found that despite the common belief that a highest percentage of customers leave a dealership due to lack of time or that they need to confer with another decision maker; the real reason is that there was some upset in the sales process. According to the CAR-Research XRM software, more than 50 percent of the time salespeople or sales managers selected “Time and Decision Maker” as the reason customers gave when they planned to leave without buying. However, just 3 percent of survey respondents said “Time and Decision Maker” was the reason they actually left a dealership.

“While customers are telling dealerships that they are leaving because they are out of time or have to talk to their spouse, CAR-Research has found from millions of consumer interviews that this is only a real reason 3 percent of the time. Ninety-seven percent of the time the reason given for leaving the dealership is a lie just to get out of there,” said Kurt Kubicki, “The real excuses turned out to be something like they did not like the salesperson, the salesperson lacked product knowledge about the vehicle, the manager they scheduled the appointment with was not available, etc. The real reason is important as the truth then leads to the correct handling and a close.”

Here is the survey’s complete list of the top 10 reasons car shoppers left without buying:


Sales and Mgt Staff Issues



























Decision Maker


Shopping, price and financial reasons accounted for 45 percent of the reasons cited by customers for leaving a dealership without purchasing a vehicle. Of this customer segment, it was identified that 71 percent of these customers did not receive key “Road to Sale” process steps at the dealership where research was conducted. These key process steps included Product Presentation, Demo Drive, Service Introduction and Walk, and Manager TO Interview before leaving the dealership. The study found that if these steps had been performed at a higher level of efficiency fewer customers would have left and more customers would have purchased during visit.

Sixty-three percent of customers who were interviewed by the CAR Research XRM’s Unsold Research Call Center and had e-mail addresses captured were contacted by dealerships again. Through subsequent dealership marketing efforts, 31 percent of these customers returned to the dealership and 51 percent did business with the dealership at some level (i.e. purchased a vehicle, serviced a vehicle, purchased parts, bought service contract, etc).

“In conclusion, sales and management issues with customers greatly affect performance of showroom activity, and understanding the reason that a customer left the dealership significantly increases the ability of the dealer to get the customer back in, and subsequently close the deal,” Kubicki said.

The results of this study are based on approximately 250,000 customer interviews conducted at more than 250 dealerships in the United States. The interviews were conducted by CAR Research XRM’s Unsold Research Call Center from January 2009 to October 2010. Research has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.