Pitfalls of selling cars online include customers' quick access to invoice prices and the ease with which they can shop dealerships against each other.
But that doesn't mean Internet sales people should be meek, says Corey Mosley, president and founder of the Mosley Automotive Group, a New Jersey training firm.
“We know Internet selling is twice as hard as selling in the showroom,” he says. “It's less emotional for the buyer and we have less control, but that doesn't mean we have to let them roll us.”
Mosley says too many Internet sales people give up control of negotiation.
“Sales people can build that relationship with the customer and still keep control of the process,” Mosley says.
He entered sales training after building a Internet department at a New Jersey Lexus dealership. He believes today's successful Internet manager is tomorrow's general manager, because the Internet is part of everything a modern dealership does.
But Internet managers need to prove their value. They and their operation must be visible throughout the dealership.
“Everyone at your store should know about the Web presence and understand what it means for the dealership,” Mosley says. “And that includes the receptionist.”
Mosley and Lenny Satisky, one of his sales people from the Lexus dealership, use tough love with how-to advice when addressing attendees of a sales seminar Mosley's firm held in Philadelphia.
Satisky tells attendees that if their customers are talking about price, it's because the salesperson is leading or following them there.
Many sales people make the mistake of thinking things such as invoice pricing, knowledge of what other dealerships are charging and online trade valuations are tools for the customer to use against the dealership in negotiations.
Nonsense, Satisky says. “Listen, you're not going to use my tools against me. Think about it, the customer does this once every three to four years, while I do this 80 to 120 times a month. Who should have the upper hand?”
There are times when sales people take a hit on price, but there is no reason to make it easy for customers. “Make them work for those discounts,” he says. They must do more than just claim they can get a better deal elsewhere.
Sales people need to get the customer off e-mail and on the phone quickly because it is easier to make appointments over the phone, says Satisky.
7 Tips for Selling Online
Online vehicle selling has some disadvantages, but here are Internet trainer Corey Mosley's tips to make it easier:
- Centralize activity. Make sure all of the Internet-generated leads — e-mails, purchase requests, phone calls and walk-ins — are entered into one lead management system. That makes managing the follow-up process effective.
- Automate e-mail follow-ups. Selling a car on the Internet has more to do with the salesperson's phone skills than anything else. Automating that process means the salesperson has more time to spend selling and not typing e-mails.
- Right off, ask a new lead: “Have you ever purchased a vehicle online before?” This is a prime opportunity for the salesperson to gain control of the negotiation.
- Ask for appointments. This is basic, but sales people often neglect to do it. They forget the fundamentals and get caught up in letting the customer dictate what should be done. There are ways to get the customer into the dealership: trades, credit information, test drives. Let customers know their presence is their leverage.
- Ask for a credit card deposit on the phone. If customers oblige, they likely will keep the appointment. Even if the dealership does not run deposits provided on the phone, ask for one anyway; customers do not need to know the deposits won't be run until they come in.
- Use “last in, first out.” Work last leads first. They are fresh and give the best opportunity to close a deal.
- Develop a process and stick to it. Consistency makes for more sales.