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Internet Department
November 06, 2001 15:56:57
Internet Power for Salespeople

Jimmy Atkinson

How would you like to increase sales and gross profits on today's informed customers? People are doing their homework and coming into your dealership prepared. In addition to the Internet, they may have looked in their local paper (at least let's hope so because you spent $8,000 on that ad), read a consumer magazine, called the local radio talk show consumer advocate or shopped at other dealerships. This creates confusion. Let's focus today on the customer that has researched their purchase on the Internet and how to turn that prospect into a buyer.

The Buyers Close

Have you ever heard that every time a salesperson greets a customer a sale is made? Either the salesperson sells a car or the customer sells the salesperson on the fact they aren't buying a car! Let's look at a typical Internet scenario:

Your salesperson greets a customer to your dealership and the customer says: “I've done my homework on the Internet. I've got your cost and will give you $100 over your cost, will you take it?” Your salesperson responds by saying:

  1. If I could do it for $100 over could I earn your business?
  2. Those reports are never accurate so forget those numbers!
  3. Let me get you another salesperson.

I'd bet that one or all of these responses have happened at your dealership. They happen because your sales staff is missing the professional skills they need to compete in today's market. In the above case, the customer closed the sale and the salesperson loses a commission. The worst part for the customer is, not only do they leave with their money still intact, they leave without the new vehicle they want. 90% of these customers will take delivery of a new vehicle within a week of setting foot on their first dealership lot. Another dealership will get the sale and another salesperson the commission.

Information is Power

How many of you have heard this phrase? It is true, but only if you know how to apply the information to gain the result you want. In the case of an automobile transaction, the Internet provides the information, but in many cases overloads the customer with information and they need a sales professional to help them make a good decision.

Studies are showing that somewhere around 65% of new vehicle buyers and 40% or more of used vehicle buyers are using the Internet for information about their purchase. The good news is that most (90%+) customers feel that a vehicle is not something they are comfortable buying completely on-line and that the best place to gather information is at a dealership.

Let's say that a customer is going to buy a Chevrolet Tahoe. They go to the two most popular sites – and They gather retail and cost information. They then go to GMBuypower. Here they download the window stickers of available inventory from their local dealer. They compare the sticker to the other pricing information they have. In trying to figure your cost, they get confused because one option they want requires a second option and they are not sure if that comes in the package they selected or not. To sort all of this out they go back on-line and look at individual dealer sites. By the end of this process the information they have printed out is as thick as the local phone book! Is this real life? I challenge you to go through the above process without getting confused and you are in the business!

A Ready, Willing and Able Buyer

Now this “informed” customer is standing in your dealership. Let me ask you a couple of questions: Do they know what they want to buy? (Yes) Do they know where they want to buy it? (Yes – they are standing in your store) So the missing link is the salesperson guiding them to a good decision with professional selling skills. Let's look at the above customer situation again:

Customer: “I've done my homework on the Internet. I've got your cost and will give you $100 over your cost, will you take it?”

Salesperson: “ It sounds like you've really researched your choices, let's take a second to review the material you have and we'll find a vehicle that meets your needs, by the way will you be using your new vehicle in your job or is it a family vehicle?"

This will bring down the customer's defenses. Use the information they brought to help them make a good decision. Here are a couple of follow up questions you might ask:

“I noticed you chose four-wheel drive, will you be using the vehicle off-road or is it just in case of bad weather?”
“The Tahoe is a great vehicle, will you be mainly driving it around town or on trips?”
“These web pages are great aren't they? What are some of your other favorite sites?”

These are just three examples; there are dozens of others you could use. I want you to notice something though. Each of the three opens up the conversation so you can find common ground with the customer and put you on track to make a sale.

Keep your Sale on Track

Remember these three steps when you address the informed buyer:

  1. Complement them on their research.
  2. Ask questions to get them to expand on the benefits they need and why they want a particular vehicle.
  3. Add value by addressing the things you have learned from the customer as you present and demonstrate the vehicle.

There is so much more to cover than we can in this short article. In classes I break it down into a step-by-step program that salespeople can learn and implement. This will get you started then call me at 770-794-1108 or e-mail me at for more information and let's get your sales staff realizing their potential.

Jimmy Atkinson has written and facilitated sales and management training workshops all over America and has helped dealerships achieve tremendous results in today's challenging market. His background includes eighteen years of success in sales, F&I management, sales management and training.



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