Should I Become an Internet Sales Manager?

We all know that the auto industry has seen many changes in recent years regarding marketing a dealership and selling cars. In light of those changes, many salespeople asked me if they should become Internet Sales Manager. This has been a tricky question to answer. Being a car salesperson on the floor requires one set of skills. But being an ISM (Internet Sales Manager) requires an additional set of skills to be successful.

The reason for this article is to explore some of the additional sales skills required and to compare and contrast the position. For the sake of this article, I will assume that the Internet Sales Manager position handles the customer from start to finish. In other words, they start with an Internet lead or inbound phone call and then take that prospective car buyer through every step of the process. Which includes setting an appointment, selling the car, and delivering the vehicle to the new owner.

The Obvious Differences of Being an Internet Sales Manager

Fresh Ups are no longer an option.  The ISM ONLY works with customers that have submitted a lead from the dealership’s website, the manufacturer’s website, a third-party lead provider, or Internet-related inbound phone calls. Even on those Saturday afternoons when the lot is full of buyers and selling cars is like shooting fish in a barrel. Game day is for the floor sales staff only; if you don’t have appointments lined up, it will be a long, dull day.

Become an Internet Sales ManagerHowever, the upside of being an Internet Sales Manager (ISM) is that you won’t be waiting on the curb for a Fresh Up in the rain, snow, heat, or cold.  Your customers will come to the dealership because you have made an appointment to sell them a car. They will drive onto the lot, and when a floor salesman tries to Up them, your name will be the first thing out of their mouth.

Pros and Cons of Automotive Internet Sales

One of the most incredible things about selling cars on the floor is that practically everyone on the lot is there to buy a car. In other words, if you do your job as a floor salesperson correctly, they will leave with a vehicle, and you will get paid a commission. Sometimes they need a little convincing, a little selling, and a little grinding, but they are in front of you, and getting them there is half the battle. Now all you have to do is turn on your selling skills and make a deal.

Internet customer is also going to buy a car, but they are not only deciding what car to purchase but how much to pay and where they will go to make their purchase. When they submit a lead or make a phone call, they select and eliminate dealerships from their list of prospective vendors. They are likely receiving numerous phone calls, emails, quotes, and invitations from several or even a dozen dealerships that want them to set an appointment and buy from them. The Internet Sales Manager’s job is to communicate with them and providing a service. The information the potential customer is looking for to either add you to their list of candidates or eliminate you.

Internet Sales Manager Challenges

When potential customers are sitting at their computer from their home or office, they use their logic to make a buying decision.  We all know we must engage the customer’s emotions to make a deal and hold gross. So the most significant challenge of any ISM is to sell yourself, the dealership, and the appointment. It won’t do any good to try and sell the car (unless it is a used car) until they are on the showroom floor.

Once you get them into the dealership, you can sell the car, but first, you must get them to choose you and your dealership. When they are at home on their computer, they eliminate you with a mouse click or delete an email without a second thought. Your challenge is to rise above and make them believe that you and your dealership are the right choices for them.

Cut Out for Being an ISM?

Being an Internet Sales Manager is not for everyone that has been a floor car salesman or car saleswoman. Standing around bitching about the showroom traffic is no longer an option because there is always something to do when working with Internet customers. Sometimes, one phone call or email can get you an appointment and produce a sale, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Internet car buyers can close in a day, or sometimes it takes weeks or months to get them in the door. Then after you get them in the door, you still need to close them.

Being a top car salesperson on the floor does not necessarily mean you will succeed as an ISM because additional skills need to be mastered. However, if your car sales skills are weak on the floor, you will probably be weak on the Internet because you still need to sell them. So, if you want to be an ISM, you better sharpen your auto sales skills before you make a move. And to put the final question to bed, yes, you can earn a six-figure income in Internet Sales. I know many people doing quite well as ISMs, and you can too!

Later, Fresh Up on the Lot


P.S. The Internet is loaded with ways for Car Sales Prospecting


KB · June 17 at 5:36 am

Hi ECG (Ecommerce Girl),

Thanks, I having been seeing this more and more around the country.
I think you are right and I think it’s an efficient model for working the Internet that will ultimately become the norm.


KB · June 17 at 5:32 am

Hi ECG (E Commerce Girl),

Thanks for Contributing.

E Commerce Director Girl · June 17 at 4:52 am

I try to pair the customer’s psychological personality profile with the appropriate salesperson.


E Commerce Director Girl · June 17 at 4:49 am

Internet Sales are smartly headed in a different direction, the dealers that I’ve worked at in a mid-sized market are patterning themselves after the heavies (Sonic, Hendrick, etc) where the Internet Manager is no longer a glorified car salesperson title and is actually someone “managing” the Internet, often with a small BDC call center type staff to oversee as well.

In a typical day, I log on, answer leads, confirm set appointments for the store, mine the database to send out targeted email blasts (and write said emails), update the online inventory, meet with sales lead providers and web developers, write some sales copy, train staff on the CRM, set appointments, greet appointments, schmooze the floor, assure leads are answered as quickly as possible, mine the 90 day sales funnel, pencil my own deals when the customer wants a firm “out the door” price before coming in to the store, and also handle some CSI issues.

I don’t show cars at all. This method works.

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