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Q&A with CATAlyst, instructors of CATA Learning University

November 18, 2010

Q: Our dealership has been somewhat slow in embracing this whole e-commerce thing. There seem to be many companies that claim to have the solution on how to sell cars to Internet customers. Based on your experience, what’s your advice?


A: Ah, the billion-dollar question: how to sell cars to the Internet customer? The first thing we would like to make clear is that if any company claims to have the solution, be cautious, because there is no single solution. We have worked with many dealerships that are very successful in the e-commerce arena. All of them approach it differently, although their approaches share some common themes. By posing your question, you demonstrate a key ingredient, an understanding of the opportunity that exists in the e-commerce playing field.

    At the risk of oversimplifying, and based on our experience, there really is no such thing as the Internet department. In this new automotive marketplace, every department in the dealership is the Internet department. If you are a sales manager, you are the Internet manager. Here is the reasoning: According to the major consumer surveys (as well as common sense) more than 80 percent of consumers are doing their product and dealership research online before they call or visit our dealerships.

    At the showroom level, we see this in the continuing decline in traditional showroom traffic. So for many of us this means we need to re-evaluate our strategy to have an Internet person tucked away in the corner cubicle, often with inadequate tools and support while at the same time having 10 Sales Consultants sitting idle and waiting for that diminishing showroom "up."

    Simply put, this equation does not make sense. Understanding and addressing this is one of the greatest opportunities we as car dealers have.

    In the next two articles we will review dealership strategies that deliver strong results and how these strategies adapt to different processes and cultures.

    Remember to check the CATA Learning University Web site at for the latest class offerings and schedules.