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Experience with e-mail only negotiations?



  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    I keep telling my self I won't read these type of threads anymore but this one at least stays marginaly civil so...

    The internet requests we get from some sites actually have a format so people can fill in all of that information.

    The problem is most people dont use it.

    I have right in front of me an internet request for a range rover. I will type down exactly what it says. Anything in () is my commentary.

    Make: Land Rover
    Model: Range Rover
    Year: 2006

    (This is normaly filled in although sometimes the year is incorrect because most people assume we have left over 2005 MY vehicles still. I understand that as most makes do have left overs right now but we have not since January.)

    Style: HSE 4dr AWD / Package: HSE
    Interior Color: Blank
    Exterior Color: Blank
    Transmission: Transmision: 6-Speed Auto w/Comandshift
    Engine: Engine 4.4l 32-Valve V8

    (ok now everything in the above with the expetion of the color choices is filled automaticly as standard features. He didn't put in a color though which is not really a problem it just makes me assume he will list several colors he is interested in the comment section that I have not gotten to yet)

    Options: STDEN: 4.4L 32-Valve V8
    STDTN: Transmission: 6-Speed Automatic W/Commandshift
    STDAX: 3.73 Axel Ratio
    STDGV: GVWR: 6,384 lbs
    STDTR: Tires: P255/55R19
    STDWL: Wheels: 19" x 8.0" Aluminium Alloy
    STDST: Front Bucket Seats
    STDTM: Blenheim Leather-Faced Seat Trim
    PAINT: Monotone Paint Applications
    STDRD: Radio: Harmon/Kardon Logic7 Audio System

    (Ok whoooo lot of standard features. Now this system is of course set up to work with many different types of vehicles. The Range Rover Just happens to have very few options so almost eveything is standard. If this guy had selected the optionsl 20 inch wheel and tires package it would have listed that on the STDS/STDWL section. Now I am starting to get worried because he did not select any options at all not even the heated accesories package. This makes me think he is just a kid playing on the internet and probably did not even look at the options package.)

    Payment Method:

    (Hmhh ok so both blank that is a real bad sign this is almost a total waste of my time now. All I know is that they guy is interested in a Range Rover and all I have is his name zip code and email address with no comments at all.)

    Currenty Vehicle
    Trade-in YES
    (Hmhh ok so he is trading in a car but he won't spend two more minutes to tell me anything about the car at all. Now I am convinced nothing will happen with this at all but luckily we don't get many internet based requests so I have time to send him a short email thanking him for his request and telling him we have several Range Rovers in stock with various colors and the two major options, Luxury interior and Rear Seat entertainment. If he would like information on a particular color or optioned vehicle or to set up an appoointment just email me back or give me a call.

    I email him this along with some other information and he of course never calls me back or emails me back. That was three weeks ago. I sent one more follow up email when we got another Range Rover in stock and told him what its color and options were and he still never replied back. He is probably on some internet board somewhere complaining that I did not send him a quote like he asked too.)
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,822
    Oh, I'm sure - but some of those fields should be mandatory (like color), even if "any" is one of the options, just so that they have to take time to fill it in.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
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  • mark156mark156 Posts: 1,992
    I keep telling my self I won't read these type of threads anymore but this one at least stays marginally civil so...

    British_Rover-- I hope that you don't leave. I enjoy reading your "customer interaction" posts.

    I just wish a motorhome salesman would post over in "Purchasing Motorhomes" section and tell his/her interactions with customers.

    I'll never forget my Mercedes salesman telling me a story about a husband and wife who came into his dealership wanting to look at a Mercedes. They apparently drove about 100 miles away to get to the dealership. When the couple arrived and met my salesman, they were going on and on about getting a speeding ticket. And the lady tells my salesman, "you are going to pay for it!" My salesman said, "I'm sure we can work it into the price". Can you believe it?

    I saw my salesman the other day at the DMV... we were both renewing our tags. He is retired now after selling Mercedes for over 30 years. I wish he would tell me more stories! :P

    Mark :D
  • nynewcarnynewcar Posts: 89
    I have to commend the dealers who are posting here because at least you're open to the idea of change. Also, paradoxically, I think it would probably be very pleasant to actually deal with any of you in a showroom, because just by participating in this discussion, it looks like you're at least willing to listen to someone else, which is not always the case with car salesmen.

    But here's what I'm seeing: "Our typical online quote request is so incoherent, there's just no point in trying to work with these people, we may as well give up." That shows me that there's still an underlying resistance to the basic concept.

    Perhaps that's understandable, but if you truly want to work effectively with this sector, I think you have to make a sea change in your thinking. Embrace the idea of online shopping as being a new, welcome source of potential profits that you can't afford to ignore - and the details will work themselves out. Approach it as a "given," and you will find the right formula to sort 'em out and get a productive dialogue going with the "serious" prospects.

    And as I've said before, only you can decide whether it's feasible. You have access to information we don't. You know how your overall sales are doing, how many online requests you get and how many of those are indeed incoherent, "not serious," or not worthy of replies for other reasons, and how much it costs you to turn an online "looker" into a real-life "buyer."

    Just understand that if you decide this sector is worth pursuing, you can't simply transpose your real-life strategies into cyberspace. You need to understand that the tactics that make car dealers so unpopular, no matter how effective you claim they are, are not only going to fail with your online customers, but they're going to backfire really badly. The online shopping experience is fundamentally different from real life shopping in large part because of how easily it lets shoppers compare you to your competitors.

    If you have a customer "captive" in your showroom, you might be able to coax them into staying there long enough to win them over. But online, if your opening line doesn't answer their question in any meaningful way, you lost that prospect in the time it takes to find the delete key.

    Also, if you want to work effectively with your online shoppers, you have to understand why they're online and not in your showroom. If they ask for a quote and you reply by telling them to "come on down and we'll put you in the best car ever," you're just affirming the reason they avoided your showroom to begin with. Click, and you're history.

    I may be generalizing but I believe that online shoppers are online because they want to make an informed purchase. Their research is a much bigger factor in the decision than their emotions. You won't win them over by trying to romance them into loving the car or loving the dealership. They want to buy a car knowledgeably, efficiently, and at a fair price. You'll win them over if that's what you give them - knowledge, efficiency, and a fair price. In my humble opinion, of course. :)
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    called make me a better online salesman where I was trying to keep a log of all of my internet customers. I tried to show how the worded their request and how I responded and if they ever responded back.

    That thread eventually got shut down because of all the negativity in it.

    In general though I will say this.

    Most of our internet requests do not have a clear question worded at all. They either dont say what kind of car they want or they don't actually ask for a price quote either a lease or a purchase. The internet request I reposted above is a good example of that. There was a some what clear vehicle involved but they never said what they were looking for. Were they looking for a purchase quote? Lease quote? Checking on avaliblity? I don't know they never told me.

    The best I can do is aknowledge that the person sent in a request, thank them for their request and ask them to contact me if they have any questions.

    95% of them never contact me back.

    Of the 5% that do contact me none have ever bought a car from me.

    I would say that the majority of internet requests that actualy have an adequate amount of information in them go somewhere. I may not get a sale out of it but I do get a chance to email the customer a few times and figure out what they are looking for. I can answer their questions build a bit of a relationship and I keep them on my email list to let them know when new things pop up.

    If a transaction results in a sale rarely does it go completly on the internet. There are so few Land Rover dealers around and our cars are such limited production that most people have never driven one before. They want to drive it first before they buy it.

    In my memory people that I have first gotten into contact with from an internet request that have actually come into the dealership for one reason or another to look at a Land Rover have bought one. I can only think of three people who have come in and not bought one. I can only actually completly right off one of those three as well the other two are still up in the air and I have semi-regular contact with them.

    RE: Mark and the Mercedes salesman story.

    I was working a deal once a few months ago with a guy who was a phone customer. He came in with his friend from New York to look at a used Lexus. On the way here they got a speeding ticket for 208 dollars. (Keep this in mind as it is the point to the whole story)

    Now this particular lexus was already priced at basicly a wholesale level because it was going to auction at the end of the week. Threfore we really could not give up more then 750 dollars. Anymore then that and we would be better off sending it to auction as we would make more money there even after auction fees.

    They came in and their initial offer was about 4,000 dollars less then what we were asking of $25,888 . I explained the situation that this car was already priced at pretty much a wholesale level and the most I could give up was 500 dollars. I was not going to drop my pants all the way up front.

    They said nope 21,888 was their final offer. I showed them what we owned and that it was already priced below that. Then I showed them the latest auction book so that they could see they were buying to car at nearly wholesale. I am talking real wholesale too as the auction book was brand new that day and the car at auction should do right about that. They repeated their final offer and I said well have a safe drive back to New York because I will send the car to auction before I sell it at that price.

    They didn't leave. They kept trying to get me to come down. I would not. They started bumping themselves up. As the hours, yes that is right hours, went by we reached an impase. They still wanted about 1,500 dollars off and I only had 250 more to give. I asked them how much their speeding ticket was because I had forgotten. I offered to discount the car in an amount equal to their speeding ticket.

    They thought about it for a minute and accepted. We delivered the car two days later.
  • socala4socala4 Posts: 2,427
    But here's what I'm seeing: "Our typical online quote request is so incoherent, there's just no point in trying to work with these people, we may as well give up." That shows me that there's still an underlying resistance to the basic concept.

    Basic differences:

    -Many customers start using the internet at the beginning of the shopping process. Many want info to test the waters, including about cars that they know very little about or may not buy. (At this point, they are still browsing or comparison shopping.)

    -Dealers working the internet want buyers who are ready to go now. They don't want to educate people who either won't buy or who will use that education to buy from someone else.

    As long as buyer expectations don't match the salespeoples' desire to close a relatively high ratio of deals, this disconnect will continue. Someone who sells a low volume product such as a Land Rover may find this to be even less desirable, because they gun for higher per-unit margins than most other makes.
  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,020
    A national personal finance magazine is looking to interview consumers who have recently used and its True Market Value pricing guide to successfully negotiate a good deal. Please send an e-mail to no later than Friday, June 30, 2006 by 2:00 PM PST/5:00 EST containing your daytime contact information and what car you purchased.


    Chintan Talati

    Corporate Communications

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email,, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

  • Hi,
    I found another dealer (Zimbrick Honda of Madison), and sold the car private party. Zimbrick provided a better price and were forthright with what they could and could not do, as opposed to Bergstrom of Oshkosh.

    I have found from commiserating sessions with others that Bergstrom is in general engaged in a somewhat systematic program of subterfuge.
    Count on Bergstrom Motors of Oshkosh to quote high and fabricate fairy-tales when the customer is in the showroom. /rant

  • I want to buy a used car and would like to do the negotiations on line but I am not sure what steps I need to follow. Should I visit the dealer and test drive the vehicle and then come home to do the negotiations on line? Or should I negotiate first and then visit the dealer for a test drive when I am satisfied with the price? Thanks in advance.
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    I am not a professional when it comes to cars, new or used....but it seems to me if you have your mind set on a particular USED can you negotiate..... without first looking at it, having it checked out, Carfax and driving it??? You would have no idea what to negotiate!!!!!
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    A lot of people don't look at the car first, but I sure would,especially on a used car. It would also show the dealership you are serious about buying, having looked at the vehicle first. Get the vehicles vin number, and write down any noticeable scratches, dents, etc. and the the mileage is sometimes rounded down.
  • gasman1gasman1 Posts: 321
    I'm not a car salesperson or work for any dealership...

    Used car - you MUST check-out and/or drive the car before you negotiate via internet, fax, phone, or in person. There's no need to negotiate and then find out that you don't want the car.

    New car - you MUST know that this is the car you're ready to buy. You must have already completed your reserach which should include a test drive (doesn't have to be the exact car you're negotiating, but should be darn similar).

    Negotiating while not knowing what you want thus not really ready to buy hurts the marketplace. A salesperson and a dealership could be cold to fax or internet negotiations if people are wasting their time.
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    Very good advice and I totally agree.
  • After using some of these "get a free quote" links (and giving all make/model/option/trade/finance/etc. info, leaving nothing out), I can categorize these "internet" dealers in the following manner by the caliber of their responses and/or willingness to negotiate online (or lack thereof):

    Level 0 – DNS (Did Not Start)

    This dealer has a website but it is very limited (not updated often and with few functions). Even the canned responses are poorly worded, and the "come on down" ploys are very thinly masked.

    Level 1 – Beginner

    This dealership has a nice web site, including an updated online inventory list and possibly even an online trade-in appraisal form. The “internet” sales guys respond to inquiries quickly and try to sound helpful, but do not provide the info requested.

    Example A:
    SALESPERSON: ”I have your online trade-in evaluation form; thanks! When can you come in so that we can look at your trade?”
    CUSTOMER: “What? You acknowledged that I sent the ‘online trade-in evaluation’ form. Where is my actual online appraisal? Why did I take the time to fill all of that info in if it won’t get me a number?”

    Example B:
    CUSTOMER: “Hello, I’d like a lease quote on a new 2007 CamCord DX manual transmission with no options. What colors do you have in stock? I have excellent credit but don’t want to put any money down. Please quote for 12K miles/year, 42 months. Thanks!”
    SALESPERSON: “Depending on the model and options you choose your payments will be around $300. When can you come in?”
    CUSTOMER: “Huh? When I clicked on ‘Get an online quote’ I specified the model and options I wanted. Where is my actual online quote? Also, what about the availability of the model I asked for?”

    This dealer is only interested in the Internet as a marketing tool and a lead generator. They fall short very quickly when compared to the next two levels.

    Level 2 – Advanced

    An “Internet Showroom.” Knowledgeable and understanding sales staff will provide a direct and specific answer to any question. Sales/Finance managers and used car appraisers assist behind the scenes providing book values on trade-ins and payment estimations.

    INTERNET SPECIALIST: “I got your online trade-in evaluation form; thanks. Also, you specified a new 2007 Toyonda CamCord SE-V6 with no options. We have two SE-V6s, one Blue and one Silver (the silver car has a sunroof). We can get other colors if necessary.
    CUSTOMER: “Edmunds TMV for trade-in is $13,450 and I owe $12,200. Also, I like the silver SE-V6 and will pay for a sunroof. What would my loan payments be based on a credit score of 750, no money down for 60 months, including all fees?
    INTERNET SPECIALIST: “I’m glad we’ve found your new Toyonda. Assuming your trade is as described, we’ll give $13K. Based on your credit, trade equity and our Internet price, with our best rate of 4.75% your payments will be $384.55 per month, out-the-door.”

    Once all information has been exchanged between both parties, negotiations are completed, and the salesman has started the paperwork, the buyer can come in to the dealership and just sign and drive. They still had to go in at some point, but they are more comfortable than going someplace blind. Plus, they spend much less time there, down from well over an hour to under 30 minutes.

    Level 3 – Professional

    These guys are the real deal; they represent a true “Internet Dealership.” Any or all stages of the car buying process can be completed online. They’ll even come to you to look at your car. You can even fax back the signed papers and they will deliver the new car to your door. This is the easiest for the customer and takes the least amount of their time. According to an online article, first bought a car in this manner a few years ago; however, needless to say these dealers are still hard to find.
  • gasman1gasman1 Posts: 321
    Excellent post! Wouldn't it be great if dealerships had to earn their internet rating? Of course it woould have to be an independent source providing that rating. What could be used to identify the best internet dealerships? Stars wouldn't be good due to the 5-Star manufacturer ratings. Diamonds? What about something digital like G-Gigs or M-Megs? Again, nice post.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    Good investigative reporting there benderbows. ;)
  • Thanks a lot guys! Yeah I agree it doesn't make much sense to negotiate before I see and test the car. I was just worried that once the salesmen have seen me they know they can rip me off and I wouldn't be much better off negotiating on-line. Thank you.
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    I agree...that was a GREAT post. As a prospective buyer and a previous buyer (I always use the internet to first search dealer inventory)(always rent the type vehicle that I intend to buy for at least a week-end)I then start the Email procedure and I can honestly say that I have experienced O.. Level 1... and Level 2...with 0 and Level 1 being the most common. as far as Level 3, I have never had that experience.
    As far as Level 2 goes, and the trade-in value, I can understand that a dealership, especially the internet salesperson, will not give you a "quote" on-line, although, in all fairness to your Level 2, they do ask for and sometimes say they will give you a "quote", but I never have received one, even after sending a reply back such as yours. I usually print out KBB, NADA,Edmunds and whatever else I can find, take the average of all of them (that's with excellent, good, fair, retail, sell yourself and trade-in values)(also, I check the Edmunds forum about real world trade-in value) and that gives me a fair to good idea of what I should expect for the trade. My cars are usually in very good trade-in condition, low mileage, good maintenance records, and usually less or about three years old.
    But I have to say again, that was an "Excellent" post about "Internet" dealership sales.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,593
    That we can't see? Everybody seems to think their trades ae in "excellent" condition and very few are.

    It's not as easy as all that...

    Suppose you have a Ford Explorer? The various "books" tell you it's worth 14,000. Trouble is, these are softer than all blazes right now! A good store would carefully inspect it and then pick up the phone and start calling his friends at the local Ford stores, wholesalers etc to try to get a decent bid on it.

    Pretty hard to do this on a sight unseen car.
  • nortsr1nortsr1 Posts: 1,060
    Isell:.."Assuming that your trade is what you describe, we will give you thirteen thousand". The key word here is "ASSUMING".
    I agree with your post, however;some dealers websites do ask, "Do you have a trade-in? Please fill in the following form for appraisal. I personally have never received such an appraisal or offer over the net. I do feel, that they shouldn't ask for the form to "GIVE" an appraisal.. I don't even know why they ask! Sight unseen, as you say, is certainly impossible to give a figure (unless they give a figure...a good one... to get you into the dealership and then, of course, start finding the coffee stains, dings and dents, and lo and behold, that heavy smoke coming out the exhaust pipe.... the internet appraisal price starts going down..
    I certainly believe that is the only way you could imagine that scenario.
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