Industry News & Trends

A quick interview with Mercedes-Benz USA.

I sat down with Mercedes-Benz USA for quick interview. Nothing earth
shattering here but a decent read if you like. Short and to the point.

You can read the article below or

follow this link

Jeff Kershner, Internet Sales Manager at Mercedes-Benz of
Hagerstown, Maryland, has witnessed the rise of Internet marketing and
the importance it now plays in his business. sat down with Jeff to discover how his dealership is so
successful online.

Q. What percentage of total vehicle sales can be attributed to your
Internet marketing efforts?

A. We are at an 18-vehicle-per-month average. There have been a few
spikes. One month it was 48 percent of total sales but the average is
close to 30 percent of total sales being attributed to our Internet
marketing efforts.

Q. How are you tracking your leads and how has it helped your dealer
with your Internet process?

A. We’re using the eLead evolution Customer Relationship Management
(CRM). eLead software does a good job of managing our Internet leads,
and showroom and phone traffic all in one CRM. eLead looks and functions
a lot like Microsoft Outlook, so it’s easy for most people to use.

Q. What is your Internet lead process?
A. All leads come through me first, and then I’ll personally follow up
and make contact by phone and email. I will then schedule the
appointment and greet the customer myself.

If I am unable to get the customer on the phone right away, I’ll send
the lead to one of my trained salespeople.

Q. What is your dealership doing to ensure that shoppers have a good
experience on your dealer website?

A. Information! Generation X, my generation, is now making up a large
percentage of our buyers, but most of the dealer personnel — especially
in upper management — are of the Baby Boomer generation.

Baby Boomers are accustomed to "push marketing” which is achieved
through TV, radio, and print advertising. Today we’re selling to a "pull
marketing" society and of course, the Internet has had a huge influence
on this change. The Internet allows one to pull information, research,
compare, and read other people’s reviews of the same product before they
make my decision.

Q. Is there anything you are doing on your website to convert
shoppers into buyers?

A. I don’t think there is one thing that you can do here. The focus of
your website is to convert shoppers into a lead. Again, this is done
with information, a little persuasion, and the right amount of calls to

Q. What are you doing to ensure customers find your dealer website?

A. We have a very strong presence in the search engines, incorporating
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). You
have to be careful, though.

I also get my inventory to all of the free listings like Google Base,
Oodle,, and a few others.

Q. Are you still using third party lead providers?
A. I’m currently down to using only one lead provider. The quality of
the leads was getting worse and the time I was putting into the leads
was not making any sense.

I quickly found that the typical Mercedes-Benz buyer in my area are
different from what I had experienced in the past. Before, I could get
someone to travel over 50 miles to save a few hundred dollars. So when I
started here, I was buying leads from all over — even the metropolitan
areas that are just over an hour away. After about six months of
tracking, I found I was wasting my money.

So I cut back on buying leads from those areas. My closing ratio went up
and my overall ROI increased.

Q. How has the Internet changed the shopping process?
A. I think it has changed the way many people shop dramatically. For
example, I never go to the store and buy something before researching
it. When I shop for anything, I try to remember that I’m now the
consumer and I track my thoughts and the process that I go through
before making my purchase. I’m very conscious of this and always compare
how consumers are purchasing vehicles.

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
  • R
  • December 27, 2006

Quick question re: Google base, Craigslist, and oodle. Do you have some sort of automated process to list your cars there, or do you just put up specific cars manually?
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • December 27, 2006

I use eBizAutos for this. They have a slick craigslist's not fully automated and you have to send 1 car at a time but it's simple to use and worth the effort. I've been lucky posting to CL on friday afternoons. It usually generates phone calls that evening and I can pick up an an appointment or 3 for Saturday morning. It can be a hit and miss ad source but it's free and great for AS IS or old age aggressive pricing inventory.

As for google base and oodle. I just view this as a added bonus. I don't really get anything from google base but I'm sure with time google will take this to the next level and it could become player.

I also use eBizAuto for our eBay national and local listings. You can actually manage all of your inventory with their tool.
  • R
  • December 27, 2006
Thanks for the reply Jeff. I don't yet use eBiz Autos, but I'm going to look at it. I've sold a few things off Craigslist outside work; I just never thought of listing cars there.

I did go down the Google Base route awhile back, but manually, and with no results. I think we have to see what Google does with it ; that will make or break it.
To see return from Google base we got a wait till it they integrate in car results into regular Google search results, just like products.

Here are some other free sites where you can send in your feed.

Also for your listing appear on Lycos classifieds and tons of other sites that are pulling the feed from So you may not actually see the referral come from

If need help with the feeds check us out at