Just days ago, Cars.com unveiled the new four Ps of marketing – which is good news for dealership salespeople, who matter more than ever. Cars.com has updated the traditional four Ps – product, price, place, and promotion – with product, price, place, and person. As Cars.com Chief Revenue Officer John Clavadetscher wrote, “The path to purchase ends with a person working with a person. The two most crucial people in the automotive purchase decision are shoppers and salespeople – people buy from people.”

Talk about music to my ears!

But I’m not surprised, either. The increased emphasis on the role of the salesperson is consistent with DealerRater’s experience. Recently, DealerRater surveyed hundreds of recent and prospective car buyers to understand their motivations for writing reviews of their vehicle shopping experience. Approximately 65 percent of car buyers write reviews when they are satisfied with the product. But interestingly, nearly 49 percent of the buyers we surveyed also write reviews based on their experiences with salespeople. In addition, 20 percent of car shoppers read reviews specifically to find salespeople.[1] And 97 percent prefer to connect directly with a salesperson before arriving on a dealership’s lot.[2]

These findings fly in the face of a popular assumption that car shoppers would like to avoid automobile salespeople. In fact, car shoppers want to consult with salespeople and will tell others about the experience they have with a salesperson (both negative and positive). It turns out that conventional wisdom is wrong.

Car shoppers have access to tools (including sites such as DealerRater and Cars.com) to do in-depth research about vehicles, which is a big reason why half of automobile shoppers show up on a dealership lot without having contacted a dealer ahead of time. But even with all the research that a car shopper possesses, an automobile sale comes down to one person connecting with another. Even for the most well-informed shoppers, salespeople play a valuable role providing an experience, personalizing inventory to a customer’s individual needs, and using price contextualization tools to narrow a vehicle selection against each shopper’s budget.

An effective salesperson also makes the difference between a one-time transaction and a repeat customer.

Yes, your salespeople matter. What should you do?

  • Get your salespeople certified on DealerRater. Eight out of 10 DealerRater Certified Salespeople are retained by the dealership annually. [3]
  • Encourage your salespeople to ask their customers to review them. Doing so instills confidence that the salesperson trusts the customer’s insights and wants to learn from them.

As we discuss in a recent blog post, shoppers – especially Millennials – want complete transparency about their entire purchase, including an understanding of who they are buying from. What are you doing to encourage transparency with salesperson reviews?


[1] DealerRater, Car Shoppers Are Judging You, January 2017.

[2] Survey of 10,000 recent car shoppers on DealerRater.com, March 2016.

[3] DealerRater, Certified Employee Retention Data, September 2015-2016