Best Practices

Are you skipping steps?

Are you skipping steps with your Internet customers?

When you’re dealing with the internet consumer (today’s consumer) it’s easy to assume they know exactly what they want. After all they’ve done countless hours of research. They know exactly what they want down the color, trim and options..RIGHT? Yet recent studies show, only 23% of consumers actually purchase the vehicle they first intended to.

When I was on the floor as an internet sales rep I sometimes found myself tippy-toeing around the customer for several reasons:

  1. I thought for sure the customer knew exactly what they wanted.
  2. I figured the customer already had pricing from Edmunds or another website.
  3. I didn’t want to come off as the stereotyped car sales person.

Of course I don’t think anyone reading this would want to be seen as a stereotyped car sales person, yet after all, you are there to sell a car which does at least make you a salesperson…RIGHT?

Now, in trying to be different and better by giving your customers a joyful buying experience, is it possible you’re not being fair to the customer and yourself? When I say “fair”, what I mean is, could you be short-changing your customers by not offering them outstanding customer service and all the options that are available?

I bring this issue up after having the opportunity to visit many dealers in the area and watching their internet and sales process while reflecting back to my days on the floor as an Internet sales representative. I often found myself focusing so much effort trying NOT to be the stereotypical car salesmen that I would catch myself taking TOO MANY SHORTCUTS!

Next time you have an appointment with a customer that you have been working online, take a step back and be able to recognize if you’re taking SHORTCUTS.

Are you giving your customer a million dollar product presentation?

Just because your customer has done hours of research online, this doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the opportunity for you to show them the features and benefits of the vehicle they’re getting ready to spend thousands of dollars on? Who knows, you customer might be on the wrong car.

Are you presenting your customer inventory options to help them save money?

Many times this is done during email or phone communication but it doesn’t hurt to offer again in person. Always offer your customer several ways of saving money, whether it’s a model or trim level down or a certified pre-owned vehicle of the same model (this will help you when it comes time to close).

Are you walking your customer through your service department?

Build value in the dealer and its service department. Be sure your customer is aware of the convenience features of your service department. Whenever possible, introduce every customer to the service manager or service representative.

Are you sure your customer is aware of all the different purchasing options available to them?

Today, many times the price of the vehicle is negotiated over the phone or email. This doesn’t mean your customer does not deserve the opportunity to review other buying options that are available to them. Even if they are a cash buyer, always present purchase and lease payments as options for your customers. You never know, your customer might be interested in leasing even though this had never come up in the past communications.

Of course these are just a few of the major steps that I notice many internet sales representatives taking. When you shortcut the customer you could be shortcutting yourself. They deserve options and providing your customers’ with options will help you with the sale and the close.

Founder of DealerRefresh - 20+ Years of dealership Sales, Management, Training, Marketing and Leadership.
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    Gilbert Chavez
  • November 16, 2007
The fundamentals stay the same, they never change. It is like blocking and tackling. The cars change, the people change, but the fundamentals stay the same. There are nuances to this age we are ever evolving into today, but to build that house of sales you need that fundamental foundation. It is the Vince Lombardi mentality of staying focused and winning the games in practice. Throw away all the technology and comes down to you making the best presentation to your customers for the product you sell. You take short cuts and you lose!

Bottom line: People Buy From People They Like.
  • P
    Paul Jimenez
  • November 18, 2007

You could not be more correct. Well said!!!!

Back to Basics. Thanks for the reminder - it is easy to forget them!
Great post and great comments from Gilbert. Gilbert’s bottom line comment about doing business with people they like is exactly right. Consumers are doing business with you and not the dealership. This is true in almost any sales transaction.

One of the key take-aways from this post was just overall engaging your customers in open dialogue. It can be as simple as gathering requirements with open ended questions, etc. Ultimately this is the foundation to a successful sale.

This was a great read!
  • J
  • November 19, 2007
It's important to consciously remind yourself (or your staff) to examine your sales process on a regular basis, and ensure you aren't trying to take too many shortcuts. I learned this in a sales job about 7 years ago. I was consistently the top producer every month, but then all of a sudden my sales numbers took a dive and I didn't know why. I had to take a step back and see what was going on, and it was the exact issue you pointed out here...too many shortcuts. I went back to the basics (and even sat in on a sales training class as a refresher) and what do you know, I was back on top again. It's easy to fall into this trap, especially when you're doing the same things day in and day out. Great post - never lose sight of the fundamentals and consistent success is inevitable.
The recent JD Power report which suggests that car buyers are willing to spend more than they originally budgeted provided the salesperson provides a better experience adds a lot of meat to what you have iterated.

First impressions are the biggest key factor of all. When calling a customer that was over 120 + miles away and right off the bat they say " Wow you are way to far away " I get over the objection with them and let them know I want to help them with their research etc and have a great shopping experience. I even had customers call other dealers and ask questions on certain vehicles, it shows that you care! Even pulling Car Fax reports on used cars from another dealer, and low and behold they come walking through the front door after a 120+ mile drive because I was with them the whole way.
Gilbert you are absolutely right! They buy from people they like!
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    Jeff Larsen
  • November 28, 2007
Thanks for the refresher Gilbert, and do believe that quality processes with personalization make the difference as in Jennifer's example above.

Just today as I followed up in the morning with a GM BuyPower lead for our evening appt... "Jeff, I just drove the exact truck I want this morning at XYZ Dealership that we talked about yesterday (my heart sank), do you think you could bring that truck into your store?"

Upon further discussion, it was XYZ's dealership sales rep he didn't feel comfortable with (trust, sincerity, lack of information). Him and his wife drove 45 minutes this evening and are taking delivery Saturday.

If I only had time to do that personalization and process with all of the incoming leads (300+ month, contact - appt - demo - close - delivery), one could only ponder the closing ratio!

Im sure many other DealerRefresh IM's reading this can relate with the scenario, yet are not given the resources and time to implement quality processes to maximize every lead coming through the 'e-door'??
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    Erica Sietsma
  • November 29, 2007
Gilbert - I saw you at Race Pace in Owings Mills!! I didn't realize it was you until after you left and the guys at the counter had the iMagic Labs site up. I asked them why and they said - "that guy that just left works there". Small world, huh? I just bought a road bike - let me know if you ever wanna go ride!