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Why Our Process Fails for the Modern Vehicle Shopper

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Comment by carlton langford on May 3, 2012 at 1:53pm

My job has always been and always will be to find my customer the vehicle they NEED (maybe not want) at a price they can a sales person, manager, or OWNER and there is no conflict even with my name on the sign!!!

And as a salesperson with as many $100.00 commissions as others I held an average of 625.00 per ride new & used...including all bonuses EXCEPT SOM

Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 13, 2012 at 8:26am

@ Fred:  Thanks for commenting!  Listening is a great skill, and I agree with you on that 100%.  In fact, I think we as an industry need to listen to our customers--and they need you to do the Meet & Greet and interview them on where THEY are in the steps to the sale.  If they've spent six weeks researching the car and they've found the one they want on your website, taking them through a needs assessment in the OLD way is frustrating for them.  It's the difference in the questions you'd ask a 3rd grader vs. what you'd ask an 8th grader.

Websites like,, etc. are all presenting shoppers with shortcuts to the steps.  And they have some success at that.  My point is the same as the cartoon:  We need to sell as the modern consumer wants to be sold to.  And that's not blind allegiance to "10 Steps."

It is, as you put it, pursuit of listening.  Thanks again!

Comment by Fred Greenstein on April 13, 2012 at 7:07am

The greatest skill I was taught 13 years ago when I started selling cars was how to listen. Customers will absolutely tell you how to sell them a car. I'm not saying that you don't have to control the situation but you do have to keep the customer in their comfort zone and THEN try to direct the process. In a general sense the 10 steps are still a good starting point but they have to be flexible enough to accomodate the innate differences between customers.

Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 11, 2012 at 2:56pm

In the next five years or so, many of our antiquated processes are going to meet Darwin, so to speak.  His real name nowadays?  Consumer.

Comment by Jennifer Paine on April 11, 2012 at 2:53pm

I agree about the 10 steps being so antiquated.  Ok, the "Meet and Greet" is still an important first step, no matter what your industry.  However, other factors like "Vehicle Selection" based off of the customer "Needs and Wants" is very outdated in my opinion.  Not that long ago, customers would come to your dealership to see what vehicles you had to offer (either new or used).  Now, the customers KNOW what vehicles you offer; and sadly, many times, know more about that specific model than the Salesman. They don't visit a particular dealership to kick tires on 5 different cars the salesman recommends based off of the salesman's fact finding step. The customer comes to drive the car they have spent hours researching, evaluating, and in most cases, already knowing what they are going to pay (give/take a touch) based on 3-6 different quotes from competitors. Additionally, I truly believe the "If I could, would you" days are long dead, but so many people in this industry continue to fall back on that crutch.  With that being said, one of the problems I face and hear about constantly is that typically upper management are 20+ year seasoned car veterans.  Not to say they don't have much needed experience, education and insight, but many hold onto the past.  I once asked why we followed a certain process, and their response to me, and I quote, "Is because that's the way it has always been done".  It's hard to change people who don't want to change, no matter what the "evolutionary necessity" might be.  Darwin who????

Comment by Ashley Poag on April 9, 2012 at 1:00pm

@ Keith, this is great illustration to coincide with the topic. I also read the article about teens preferring to surf than drive. In order to be successful in retail anything you have to master an online digital process. I look forward to the day when the entire deal jacket is digital down to electronic signatures on registration and title documents!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on April 9, 2012 at 12:29pm

Besides data that says that 18-24 year olds would rather have Internet access than a car, check this out:  American Teens Aren't Getting Licences.  Taking into account that most modern cultural changes began by "Youth Lean" (parents/older siblings following the youth change), can you see how our processes are hurting us already?

Comment by Rick Watson on April 8, 2012 at 5:56pm

Great post Keith! Hope everyone had a good Easter Sunday. Why is there a disparity with what prospects perceive as a fantastic purchase experience vs. what modern day dealers offer? Can't we just ask, record, and emulate what 2012 online shoppers want? Regarding Online UP's, I believe the most critical step is "speed" (prospects seem to reward dealers who respond first) and may even stop shopping (if you communicate concisely and meet their requirements) One prospect (who never picked up the phone) finally responded via email, you got the deal, but need the car delivered to my house. Checked with my Manager who initially said, "what?" buyers come to my dealership to take delivery and sign papers. I of course said, "why?" Is this a legal requirement?" the FLEET Dept delivers!" I eventually got permission, delivered the car to buyers house, took (2) sets of Finance Docs and the Buyer signed the set w/Warranty. They lived within a few blocks of same franchise competitor. The point is, just ask the buyer what is most important to them and how can I make this process easy for you.

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 8, 2012 at 4:09pm

@Thomas LOL (forgive me!)  Happy Easter!

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 8, 2012 at 4:05pm

...after the dinner I just put belly wouldn't fit.

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