By Jeff Kershner, MileOne

When you’re dealing with internet consumers — today’s consumers — 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 to the color, trim and options, right? Yet recent studies show that only 23 percent of consumers actually purchase the vehicle they initially intended to.

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

  • I thought for sure the customer knew exactly what he or she wanted.
  • I figured the customer already had pricing from Edmunds or another consumer website.
  • I didn’t want to come off as the typical “car sales guy.”

I don’t think anyone reading this would want to be seen as the typical sleazy car salesperson, but 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 or yourself? When I say “fair” I mean you could be shortchanging 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, watching their internet and sales processes and reflecting back to my days on the floor as an internet sales representative. I often found myself focusing so much on trying not to be the stereotypical car salesman that I caught myself taking too many shortcuts.

Next time you have an appointment with a customer you’ve been working with online, take a step back and check if you’re taking shortcuts.

Are you giving your customers a million-dollar product presentation? Just because your customers have done hours of research online, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the opportunity to have you show them the features and benefits of the vehicle they’re getting ready to spend thousands of dollars on. Who knows? Your customer might be in the wrong car.

Are you presenting your customers inventory options to help them save money? Many times this is done during email or phone communication, but it doesn’t hurt to offer it again in person. Always offer your customer several ways of saving money, whether it’s a model or trim level down or a certified used vehicle of the same model. This will help you when it comes time to close.

Are you walking your customers through your service department? Build value in the dealership 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 customers are aware of all the different purchasing options available to them? Many times, the price of the vehicle is negotiated over the phone or email. This doesn’t mean your customers do not deserve the opportunity to review other buying options that are available to them. Even if they’re cash buyers, always present purchase and lease payments as options. You never know: Your customers might be interested in leasing even if the option never came up in prior communications.

These are just a few of the major steps I notice many internet sales representatives taking. When you shortcut the customer you’re shortcutting yourself — and your paycheck.

This article used with permission of Jeff Kershner and Auto Success.