Welcome mat for the Internet customer, part 1

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By Allan Coates
Columnist

The critical first step to successful online salesmanship is to change your mindset and let go of any preconceived opinions about the Internet customer.

An Internet customer is simply a customer who contacts your dealership online rather than in person or by telephone. Thus, wise dealer principals and managers incorporate Internet sales with traditional sales processes. Frankly, Internet sales won’t work if management does not believe in the idea and does not communicate that belief to all employees.  

You are not selling a car, truck, van, SUV or CUV – you are selling a car-buying service.
Obviously, customers don’t actually buy a vehicle on the Internet; rather they obtain a realistic price, product information and a sense of what your dealership is like. So the key objective of an Internet price quote is to funnel the customer to the dealership. It is that car-buying service that Internet customers seek and car dealerships should deliver.

Tell the world – or at least your geographic market area – that your dealership offers a car buying service with convenient “no hassle, no haggle, no surprises” Internet sale price quotes.  Rework your website with a quick quote link on the home page that encourages customers to submit a request for price quote.

You can use a vehicle configurator if you wish, but definitely include a comments section so the online customer can provide details about the requested vehicle. Issue a news release that highlights your complimentary car buying service and spread the word via billboard, broadcast, online and print advertising.

If you are still not satisfied with the number of customer inquiries, you can add additional sources of leads for your car buying service. Most dealers already receive leads from the build/price and credit application features on manufacturers’ websites.

- for more on this column, check out the October edition of Canadian AutoWorld -