Best PracticesOpinions & Advice

Dealer Website Trade-in Tools; is it KBB Leaddriver OR Black Book Online?

Does anyone have any comments on the effectiveness of online trade-in value tools?

As far as I know, there are only really 2 available.

Black Book Online (Activator)


KBB Lead Driver

I’m sure at one point or another, almost every Internet sales manager has used one or even both of these online trade evaluation tools for your dealers website. I have read a few studies that show adding the an online trade appraisal tool to your dealers website could increase conversion rates another 1-2%.

We just started with one of the above trade tools, but it was a tough decision on which one to go with.

Kelly Blue Book has such a reputable name on the consumers eye BUT I always fear that the consumer has already been there. According to KBB and several other studies, it’s one of the most consumer visited websites. If the customer has already been there, than does my chances of converting lessen? OR since I have the KBB Trade-in value logo on my site, does that give our dealer more validity?

What about the actual car values? There are many times a large difference between the two companies values.

Are there other trade-in tools that I’m not aware of?

What has been your experience?

Stephanie Hudmeyer
Internet Sales Manager

  • J
    John Hayden
  • December 18, 2008
I have worked at dealerships that have both and or one they made. (That is the worst). My last dealership used both and the BB rep always wanted to know the lead numbers were and we never discussed them. I do know that customers would ask us if we made up BB as they had never heard of. I also had good closing ratios with both products. But if you are looking for a product consumers know it is not even a close conversation. Blue Book was easier. I do suggest you only ask for a few questions from the consumer as they are more often going to fill it out that way. First name and email. Also make sure you put the logo next to all of your used cars and impliment it on your site! We are also sewnding the logo out to all of our custoemrs on the news letters this is working great!

I do not know what has happened the last few months but Blue Books numbers are very very close! Are they doing something different on the way they get values? Does anyone out there know the answer to that?
From my experience at this point only these two trade-in tools are available for Dealer websites. You can plug in NADA but It's not really a lead driver. From the dealer sites we run... 3 to 1 are on Black Book vs KBB... might have to do with cost structure... I would personally love to see TMV as a lead driver tool... now number of leads vs KBB or BB tool to a generic form... that is debatable... as a generic form converts at 1.67% rate (data taken across 10 dealerships)... I don't have conversion stats on KBB or BB tool as those go directly to CRM and are not hosted by us... although website heatmaps don't register a blimp in reports form KBB or BB buttons.
  • J
    John Hayden
  • December 18, 2008
What you just said was as starnge as your name! What do you mean by cost structure? We pay more for Black Book than Blue Book although its close. Both go into your CRM so how can you not get closing ratios? Thats the purpose of your tool. But then again if you are only closing 1.67% of your leads from homegrown leads on your site. It totally explains why you would not want to report your closing percentages. Your trying to talk over our heads and I am sure thats what you do to your customers. I just looked at our CRM tool here is what we did last month.

BB online 298 leads closed 14
Kelley Blue Book 223 leads closed 31
Mailer leads using Blue Book 31 closd 7

I pulled all of this from my CRM tool!
  • J
    John Hayden
  • December 18, 2008
I meant as STRANGE
I've been trying to push vAuto to build one of these. But instead of giving a trade figure, show X number of results from the auction, how many are currently in the marketplace, and some other data that is more on the money. Something also like the average time it takes to sell that particular model. Then pitch it to the customer like "find out what is happening with your car right now". This way they're not locked into a number from you.

With the way the used car market is right now, values drop substantially in a day and the KBB's, Black Books, etc cannot keep up. At least with a product like vAuto, things are being scrubbed more frequently and would give your customer a more honest picture. If you give more information, it would make you seem more transparent too.

I know that doesn't answer the initial question, so...

I have tried numerous products and ways for handling appraisals online and found they all lead to the same thing: pissed customers. A lot of the time the numbers coming from Black Book or KBB were not congruent with the appraisals at the store (for various reasons). Yes, there was probably some training issues in how a salesperson handled things, but since I took all trade forms down our "Internet Sales" numbers have stayed the same.
Great idea Alex! Any feed back from v-auto on the suggestion?
ok, i have only been in the car biz for 9 months. before that i was in the mortgage biz...went from one struggling industry to another but i like this one better. before i worked at this dealership i never even heard of black book. we use kelly, its a good brand name and it flat out converts! my ucm says that toyota started using them since they went to weekly values. i have to agree with john hayden on the keepin it simple...the less info the better. we dont ask for a phone number or a last name. just a first name and e-mail.
umer farooq - whats your dealership web address? i would like to check this out
John, your name may seem strange to many. :) you should get out more... By cost structure I meant may be BB is cheaper then KBB... being that KBB has such a powerful brand... it may be that BB has a good rep in the area... Now regarding why I don't have Stats on the KBB or BB conversion... because the other stat I gave was for dealer websites we HOST... where BB/KBB forms are hosted by them and are framed in mostly... also that number only represents... website form conversion (visitors/trade-in info) submit, across 10 different dealerships... 4 OEM and 6 Used... it does not represent the close ratio... or leads from other forms on the dealer websites.

Ross, simply click on my name and then view portfolio link to see few of the dealer sites hosted/designed by us.

Alex have you thought about pulling this data from Vast, Oddle & Google Base. I believe Oddle or Vast have a graph on average time... not 100% though...
Umer runs AutoJini (website provider), and I doubt he's trying to talk over anyone's heads, a couple of you just didn't understand the context of his comments. Anyway, I think what Umer is trying to say is that a "generic form" (i.e. a one-page web form asking for trade-in info) across 10 of his client sites is submitted by 1.67% of visitors, while he doesn't see any data on BB or KBB since those leads are dumped directly into his clients' CRM systems. I would agree with where (I think) Umer was going with his comments...I think a generic form could be as effective as the paid appraisal tools. Maybe even more effective. Of course it wouldn't provide customers with instant feedback in terms of value, but look at what Alex pointed out in his experience. Customers know they're gonna get hosed on the trade-in, and if you show them the number up front, 9 times out of 10 they're going to get pissed off and shop around until some other dealer shuffles the numbers and gives them a "better trade-in value".

In terms of branding, KBB has done a pretty good job in the consumer market. Ask any customer where they can find trade-in value and I bet 98% have at least heard of KBB while probably only 10% have heard of BB. If I were a dealer and had to choose between the two, I would go with the one that my customers would recognize. If they don't recognize the source of trade-in data, there's always that questions of "where did they get this number from?"
Jack, exactly what I was trying to get at...
Some good commentary here. Alex I would have agreed with you before we went to weekly auction values. Jake, shame on you. Really. This is 2008 my friend. Duping customers is so 1985.

The bottom line for everybody is brand equity and conversion. Both Kbb and BB have recognizable brands in their respective geographies. Kbb is much stronger nationwide due to unique visitation and website relevance.

As many in this industry have argued better than I, you MUST POSITION YOURSELF in front of the MOST CAR BUYERS directly or indirectly in the MOST EFFICIENT WAY possible. If arming the consumer with the most information is the bottom line goal(assuming they'll get it anyways), why not use both tools accordingly?

It gets monotonous listening to Dealers complain about values being wrong or out of wack. It's all subjective-regional and incredibly fluid. There are so many variables leading to disconnect its hard to position blame on the vendor or the dealer.

At the end of the day, neither program is any more than a guide designed to get a person to raise their hand. Why not allow these hand raisers to use both and then best try to facilitate their buying experience?

I mean gentleman, neither program costs more than $300/mo? Isn't this kind of silly looking at it from behind the curtain?

If I was a DP, I'd set both icons up right next to each other on multiple pages on my site encouraging my customers to use both tools as a form of leverage against my sales staff. And in actuality, as data gets better and in real time, what Dealers wouldn't want to follow a model similar? Transparency is the name of the game now folks. We best all recognize.

Happy Holidays!
  • I
    Ian Statler
  • December 19, 2008
If I could, I would have both on a site and allow the consumer to choose which one to use. Of course if I did that I bet most would actually use both during one session and I would have a crap load of dup leads (and issues to deal with)

The Pro for KBB is that everyone knows KBB
The con, everyone knows KBB.

I have used both in the past and have found that I had more initial success with BB.

Here is my thought...if everyone knows KBB, you have a good chance that they have already been there so when they come to your site, you have less of a chance of getting that customer to use your KBB trade tool.

Few people even know about BlackBook. Is it possible that the consumer is curious and wants to know what this "black book" value is? If so, that's a conversion, and another lead.

Get a price quote, contact us, call us, Schedule a test drive etc. are call to actions that might not speak to the customer that answers to "value your trade".

Does "Value your Trade-in?" speak to the customer that would otherwise not have responded to the before mentioned call to actions?

I also feel Alex's pain with having to put out fire, especially here lately :) I had/have less fires with blackbook though. You really have to train everyone to get on board but that's never an easy task.
We've had both at various times, and purely as a lead driver/conversion tool, Black Book outperforms KBB significantly. Best guess why? Everyone and their brother has already visited KBB for a trade evaluation -- when they see another trade evaluation tool, it's a no-brainer they'll try it in that ever-optimitstic online trek toward higher trade figures.
We have had great success using Blackbook online as part of our Web 2.0 friendly workflow. Blackbook is one of our top ROI sources. We take the time to educate our consumers about the difference between Bluebook and Blackbook when providing this tool to them, and giving them a trade-in range on their vehicle is providing them some of the key info they are looking for (....can we say "transparent selling"....). Trade-in value is one of the "hot buttons" that we must address with our prospects, and if you do not choose to assist them online, they either find this value on their own (at KBB, where they typically get an unrealistically high number), or they go to another dealer that will give them what they want. If you want to see an example of the Blackbook button (we created an aisle) on one of our sites, you can see it at our Cincinnati Mazda site - . Remember - this is one more tool in helping your prospect to make the buying decision, and that is where SELLING comes in.
  • B
    Bob Sherman
  • December 19, 2008
I have heard of a product called getautoappraise. I believe their website is
  • J
  • December 19, 2008
Well any lead source is only as good as the follow up system in place.look at your personel.

Conversion to sales is what is all about.
If you have a CRM track adjust,eliminate if necessary.

Volume is Vanity!!
Gross is sanity!!!

I work for Kelley Blue Book and I sell advertising to automotive dealerships in the Central region of the country. Obviously I feel that my opinion would be bias to the KBB I will simply comment on the a few things: Pricing and what my dealers that have both tools on their site tell me.

Pricing: "**MSRP"
KBB LeadDriver $ 249
Black Book $ 349
**who pays MSRP anymore?

Side by side comparison, My dealers that use both tools (19 of them so far) tell me that they both yield similar results but the LeadDriver component is a bit dealer friendly since KBB has gone to weekly values and enhanced the trade in value pricing from a "good" "fair" "poor" trade-in value to a range value.

At the end of the day I really don't care what we in the industry think works well, we are not the ones using the product, it's really about what brand consumer knows and is familiar with.

Happy Selling folks!

LeadDriver Enhancements:
  • B
    Brian Cole
  • December 19, 2008
I have been using Black Book Online and have had much success with it. One of the main reasons any tool will be successful is the placement on your website. Both of the tools need to be in a prominent location on your main page. Additionally you need to make sure that you use the capture tools on every page of your site including your New and Pre-Owned inventory and the individual car that is pulled by the customer. I agree with Ron that it really does not mater which tool you use, it is how you use it.
I have been using Blackbook Online as well.
I disabled the avatar but it still works great. I think these are 2 reputable companies with similar products. KBB is the Trusted Source but Blacbook is the little thing the Dealers hide from you if you are a customer. They are both good.
  • A
  • December 19, 2008
I think the only additional comment I have is the lead generation a trade-in tool provides. The numbers regarding monthly leads from our trade-in tool are similar to those John Hayden experienced... in the short term.

The value we receive from the trade-in tool far outweighs the immediate "benefit" of moving metal over the curb. Yes, moving metal is what we get paid for, but moving the same customer's vehicles metal over the curb for the rest of their life is what makes our job easier and easier.

The trade-in tool has EXPONENTIALLY helped our dealerships sell to customers that are more than 30 days out from purchasing a vehicle because we can continue marketing to them.
  • N
    Nick Adams
  • December 19, 2008
Some of the key features to Black Book Activator GPS are these:

Video enhanced.

Black Book gets their information from being in 50+ auctions each week. Physically in the lanes.

These figures are updated DAILY!!! That's fresh data.

Activatior is used on 26 OEM sites.

Many financial institutions use Black Book as their preferred valuation source.

Activator always gives the consumer a range, not a set figure. That range is rough to average. This sets the consumers expectations at a reasonable level.

With Activator the consumer can actually set an appointment to come into your dealership. Black Book will follow up with a phone call to your store to confirm that you received this appointment.

Black Book also has a follow up system. They will stay in touch with every opportunity on your behalf for 100 days!!! This will help keep these opportunities from falling through the cracks.

Black Book supplies monthly reports to show you the monthly results.

Black Book also offers training and support. Field staff that will visit your store and help train your people, free webinars, online training, available call scripts and e-mail templates for you to use.

Black Book will also show you additional ways of using the product outside of just your website.

You can call Black Book Online at 866.451.6200 and get an appointment with the rep in your area. It's worth a listen.
  • R
  • December 19, 2008
Forgive the rant I feel coming on but at this point in the comments I think it will be relevant on several fronts.
Delivering a trade value to a customer through one of these tools is a means to an end.....the end result being to acquire contact information from someone who is very interested in purchasing a car. As Jay said earlier, it’s about establishing credibility through transparency (the new buzz word) as one who is willing to provide the information necessary to assist the customer in making a comfortable, educated decision. These tools are customizable allowing the dealership to capture as much or as little information as they desire prior to providing the value number. Some gear towards requiring as much information as possible thinking they want to acquire the "serious customer" who is willing to provide detailed information. Others, me included, lean towards requiring less information prior to delivering the value making it easier for the customer to move forward, gaining the greatest number of opportunities and letting salesmanship do the rest. After all, that is the intent of the product, not to just deliver a value, but to open the door to conversation with a new customer. The big thing to remember is although the customer has received a value that is not where you want your conversation to begin when following up by phone. If you do, the conversation will invariably end up in a discussion over what the trade allowance will be...and that's not the point. The point is to establishing trust, confidence and value with the allowance portion of the conversation should come much later in the interaction. The objective is to sell a car, not a trade value. The conversation should begin with the benefits of purchasing through your dealership (your Value Proposition)and establishing the wants and needs of the customer with the goal of setting an appt. for the customer to visit the dealership.That’s’ where the greatest chance of success lies, not in trying yo agree over the phone what a trade may be worth.
Let me address the generic trade value form versus a "branded tool". In my experience the generic trade value form does more harm than good. If the customer perceives the value they have been given was generated by the dealership (and we all know that it never meets their expectations) they then point the finger at the dealership as the one not giving them enough for the trade. It puts the onus on the dealership as the "bad guy" and could possibly cause the customer to be defensive or even resistant to conversation. The values provided by the respected "branded" tools are independent, objective,3rd party values that take the onus off the dealership yet still begin to "mentally condition" the customer as to the real value of the vehicle. It’s much the same as what happens in the dealership. It's not the value that causes so much trouble. The value is the value (of course taking into consideration regional and resource differences).It' the presentation of the value to the customer that causes so much trouble. Think about it. In the course of our needs analysis with the customer we discover there is a trade. Once settled on a car and negotiations begin we get detailed trade information to prepare for an appraisal. (A great question to ask after acquiring the information and prior to leaving the your desk is, courtesy of Car Fax and a great word track,: “ the way ..before my manager runs a CarFax report is there anything else we should know about this vehicle”?. If there is anything else to give up they will rather than risk being embarrassed later. After being given the number by the desk it’s often presented to the customer with something like “ (Customer name ) , based on the selling price of (MSRP or retail pre-owned price here) for your new car, we’re able to allow you ( ACV here ) for your trade leaving just a difference of ( net sales price here ). This again puts the onus back on your dealership as it insinuates that your dealership has determined the trade value when in fact the value was derived by using a combination of resources rather than one person at your dealerships opinion. The insinuation may initiate a bit of an adversarial relationship. Now it’s game on and at some point someone is going to feel as if they have won and someone will feel as if they lost …not a mutually satisfying way to begin a relationship with a new customer.
As mentioned earlier, much can be done to improve the delivery of the trade value information to the customer and the “mental conditioning” all starts as soon as you find the customer is interested in trading in their current vehicle.
I learned these word tracks years ago from Tom Vann of Team Hillsdale Chrysler and have seen them work time and time again to produce great results.
Try this, it works:
Upon becoming aware that there will be a trade …
“(Customer name), we handle trades a bit differently here to allow you the greatest trade allowance. I think you’ll like it. Would you mind if I shared it with you?
“To fully grasp the market value of any vehicle at any given time we rely on 4-5 different sources, one of them being you since you are most familiar. Since I find most of my customers focus is to save time and make a comfortable, educated decision we help do the legwork so you don’t have to”.
“The values we gather come from:
1. You
2. Several independent sources to see who has the most interest
3. Our own valuation expert
4. Trusted 3rd party resources like Kelley Blue Book”. ( instruct them to use the “Rate the Condition “ report on and evaluate the car as if they were going to buy it)
“The easiest way is to start by seeing your car and you driving the new one during the evaluation. Based on the total feedback we’re able to find the most that anyone will be willing to pay for a particular vehicle at any given time. Customers appreciate receiving top dollar and the ease of getting it. We find this method to be very fair to all parties since all opinions are considered including yours”.
Now, when the trade value is presented,it is much easier to justify as giving them the “best of all worlds” rather than being held responsible as the bearer of bad news( in most cases since the trade value rarely matches the customer’s expectations).
Sorry about the rant…just thought this would be helpful information to share ..hope you feel the same way!
I've been using KBB's "Lead Driver" for almost 2 years now and have had great success with the leads it has generated and now with the "true" trade-in value's being updated weekly it has really put a qualifier on our deal process. Out here in the West, I'm not convenienced Black Book is accepted as KBB, but all in all, Lead Driver has more than paid for itself and if I had a wish to enhance the feature, it would be to have the exterior color and VIN of the trade part of the required fields.
  • D
    Drew Lancashire
  • December 19, 2008
Are we talking about appraisal tools or lead drivers? Used both before but you may want to check out another one by vAuto. Their Appraisal tool seems to work with an awful lot of relevant pricing data.
I never really had much experience using these tools. To me it is a third party lead source. This is great supplement your leads.
  • P
  • December 20, 2008
All great tools but real time trading will be the next innovation on the dealer level.

It all starts somewhere but if someone where to ask you what steam locomotive train your traveling with or did you get my Western Union would probably give a big huh?

I personally believe that they are both are coming to an end as lead generation applications. Cost cutting or combined attrition.

I thought I heard that KBB is going to have more current valuations available but the fact is that they are not an accurate measuring tool in real time. Nobody buys a week old paper and submits an order for a stock purchase based on those historical figures. Zero use on a dealer level breakin down the p and l of a deal because I know of none that has made a deal based solely on using KBB or like kind without checking auctions.

You have to say what they are. A "I don't want to be screwed over by the dealer" tools said the consumer to themselves. How long can that business model survive.

Also, the unfortunate thing is that a great amount of money is being structured to bail out on the manufacturer level( I support it ) but not to incubate innovation on the provider level,the dealers themselves.

The factories need to create their own system of KBB and BB in to a nationwide network to wholesale trade their own products.

I am going to end here, too many thoughts and I have to get out downtown in the Windy City to do some Christmas shopping or it's a handshake with a bow on it and I'll have some really pissed off nephews and nieces not to mention my girl.

Seasons Greetings to all and D-R.
Coming into this conversation a little late, but had to put in my 2 cents...

We started with KBB Lead Driver and switched to BB Activator about two months later. I never discuss closing ratios without knowing the scrubbing method, but we are very happy with the BB results in our stores.

Logistically, BB is superior in delivering leads to our system efficiently...i.e. New Leads and Used Leads to different inboxes...KBB did not have a way to distinguish between the two.

The BB training and follow up system is far superior, IMHO. They have visited several times, provided email templates and phone scripts and KBB provided no supprt whatsoever.

From a consumer standpoint, having a trade evaluation tool that provides immediate, automatic values is vastly superior to a "Value My Trade" form on the site...same as having real time online appointment scheduling for service is superior to having the customer send in a "I hope I can get this appointment" email and have to wait for a reply.

As to the discussion around the name recognition...our pre-owned managers use Black Book to establish trade value...having the same information online offers both relevancy and transparency - both essential building blocks of relationship selling. It matters not that the consumer is more familiar with the KBB brand name.

Thanks to all for your comments and contributions - I have several really good ideas percolating after reading the comment stream - that's why I love Dealer Refresh!

Not to circumvent your initial question/intent for discussion, but dealers need to own the lead rather than just provide a value. That is why I recommend GetAutoAppraise to dealerships. Aside from that, GAP allows you to admin the tool, trending with the market for values, separate truck and car, allow you to cook in coupons/incentives that are unique to the store and more.

vAuto and FirstLook seem to augment any value tool very well (as pointed out above by a number of comments) but I believe the primary purpose of your question was to look at the effectiveness of a B-to-C tool rather than B-to-B.

GetAutoAppraise has my vote. Keep up the great work on DealerRefresh.