Internet Customer Today

November 27, 2009

As floor traffic continues to suffer, the Internet Department is more and more under the microscope than ever before.  Dealers who didn’t believe it before are realizing that the internet is contributing to the vast majority of their sales, whether they like it or not.

With this in mind, it is important to understand the psychology of getting that customer in to the showroom.

We must understand the goals of the customer.  Is it that the internet customer wants to buy the car completely online?  Do they want to have you deliver the car their house for a test drive?  Do they think you are going to give them a trade in value on their car sight unseen?  Thinking like a customer, I would say the answer to these questions is “no” most of the time.

With all the choices the customer has, with all the dealerships they could go to, how many customers want to get in their car and start walking in to all the dealerships they can to find a deal? 

Whether the customer realizes it or not, they are not actually trying to find the best deal.  They are trying to eliminate you from the list of places they will eventually go to see the car up close.  Your job?  Don’t get eliminated!

How do we prevent ourselves from being eliminated, you ask?  Two words.  Build trust.

Take a look at your process.  Does it focus on getting an appointment, or does it focus on gaining the customer’s trust first?  Are we trying too hard to withhold as much info as possible, or are we giving the customer the information they need PLUS giving them more than they asked for.  (IE: Similar vehicles with similar equipment that are less expensive)

The customer will narrow down the search from 20 dealers to 2 or 3.  You want to be on that short list.  By answering their questions, you will gain their trust.  By offering more selection, you will give them more reason to see you.  Once you have them in your store you must continue to keep their trust.  You are not going to “finagle” yourself into a deal.  Be real and gain customers for life.


One comment

  1. Doug,

    You bring up several good points for all Internet Sales Specialists to consider… Too many times we try to “make the sale” before the customer gets to the dealership in person, when what we really need to do is establish some trust with the customer. Not being evasive, by answering the customer questions with prompt, direct and factual straight answers via email, followed with a phone call to verify that the customer received the email, is the most consistently effective way to START building some trust and credibility with the customer…

    If the customers asks for prices, the faster and more precise, to the penny, those price quotes are delivered, the more likely you are to begin establishing some trust. If the lead did not specific a stock number or VIN, all the better to send back your most competitive prices, since the units you select will most likely not be what the customer eventually takes delivery of!

    I have always experienced the greatest success handling Internet Leads by staying focused on two objectives:

    1. Get the customer to call me or accept my phone call
    2. Get the customer to prefer communicating with me more than any other dealer they may have contacted.

    On top of those two primary goals when handling an electronic lead, you have to remember that 40% of the time the emails you send to the customer are not read by the customer… Why? For several reasons, but most significantly many of your emails are NOT RECEIVED inside the customer’s email inbox, due to spam filters used by the customer’s ISP that they are not even aware of, and other times your email ends up in the customer’s junk mail folder that they check maybe once a month, if ever.

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