By Jeff Kershner, DealerRefresh.com

There’s nothing more frustrating than looking across the showroom floor only to see your customer sitting at another salesperson’s desk signing the paperwork for a new vehicle. This is the same customer you had been corresponding with via email and over the phone for the last several days. Why is this person buying from that guy? Why didn’t the customer ask for you? This happens every day, and many times results into a heated conversation between the salesperson, sales manager and the internet sales department.

Walk the higher road and let the sales floor have the deal. Take responsibility for the customer not asking for you and instead find ways of branding yourself so when one of your next potential customers arrives at the dealer, he or she wants nothing more than to work with you and your the internet sales department. Here are five proven ways that are quick and easy and will help brand your internet sales department like no other:

1. Sharpen Your Image With Great Photos

Potential customers are initially on your site for one reason: Inventory. When customers find the vehicle they are looking for, the first thing they gravitate to are the photos. Use this opportunity to grab their attention and start branding your department.

Slide a photo of your internet sales team members in the line of vehicle photos between the exterior and interior shots. Be sure your team photo radiates professionalism while also portraying that you’re easy-going and fun to work with. Don’t forget your glamour smile on the day of the photo shoot.

2. Leverage the Dealer-Rating Websites

A strong WBFM (“Why Buy From Me”) message can give you the competitive edge. Your customers love you — you hear it all the time about how great of an experience they had. Why not get them to share their positive experience for everyone else to read?

Condition yourself to ask every one of your customers to share their experience on one or several of the consumer or dealer-rating websites, such as dealerrater.com and insiderpages.com. As you build enough positive customer comments, you will now have a tremendously strong WBFM message that you can talk up to all of your potential customers.

3. Be Fearless and Build Transparency With Video

Video is yet another way of gaining the competitive edge, since most people shy away from the camera. Nothing builds transparency quicker than a few short videos of you and your team. Commit to filming several videos that distinguish the difference between you and the competition. Let your customers know you and your team are the solution to their vehicle-buying needs. Consumers are looking for the right car, just as they’re looking for the right dealership and the right person with whom to do business.

Video is easier than ever. You can certainly go high-end, but a simple Flip video recorder from your local electronic store will do the trick. Check out videospin.com for free and easy-to-use video editing software that works great with the Flip camera.

Take your filming to next level and get your positive customer testimonials on video, as well.

4.  Master Your “About Us” Page

What is the real value of your dealers “About Us” page anyways?

When customers click on your “About Us” page, they are looking for a reason to do business with your dealership. For lazy reasons, most dealers ignore this page or use the default text provided by the website vendor.

Take advantage of this page and take your internet sales department to another level while cementing a relationship between you and your potential customer. Let customers see a more human side of your dealership. Remember, just because the page is labeled “About Us” doesn’t mean you get to talk the “Me, Me, Me” message. The key to great marketing is not what you say about yourself, but what your customers say about you. This is a great place to display those customer testimonial videos.

5. Don’t Forget Your Sensational Signature

This might seem like a no-brainer, but believe me, many salespeople overlook this effective element for branding themselves. Every email you send is yet another opportunity to brand yourself and your internet sales department. Before you hit “send” one more time, make sure your signature line says all it needs to about you and your internet sales department. Your signature line should include your name, job title, the name of your dealership, your direct phone line along with your cell phone number and your website URL. These are, of course, the obvious elements — but why not take it a step further? Include a photo of yourself, a dynamic tag line and/or a P.S. note linking the customer to your consumer ratings profile page or your new “About Us” page.

Many internet sales managers are left to believe that you need special “internet pricing,” a “benefits package” or a “free giveaway” to get the customer to ask for you. Instead, sell something larger than the price of your vehicle. Sell your brand, sell your image and sell your customer what they are truly looking for. Be the rock star you are — take full ownership of your internet sales department and find every opportunity to brand it to the max.

This article reprinted with permission from Jeff Kershner.