We all know that the auto industry has seen many changes in recent years when it comes to marketing a dealership and selling cars. In light of those changes I have had an untold number of salespeople ask me if they should become an Internet Sales Manager if they have the opportunity. This has been a very difficult question to answer because being a car salesman on the floor requires one set of skills and being an ISM (Internet Sales Manager) requires an additional set of skills in order 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 am going to assume that the Internet Sales Manager position is one that handles the customer from start to finish or 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 including setting an appointment, selling the car and delivering the vehicle to the new owner.

The Obvious Differences of Being an Internet Sales Manager

Become an Internet Sales Manager

Fresh Ups are no longer an option because the ISM ONLY works with customers that have submitted a lead from the dealership’s website, the manufacturer’s website, 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 and if you don’t have appointments lined up it is going to be a long boring day.

However 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 because 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 greatest things about selling cars on the floor is that practically everyone that comes on the lot is there to buy a car. In other words if you do your job as floor salesman 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.

The 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 are selecting and eliminating 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, provide a service and the information that the potential customer is looking for to either add you to their list of candidates or eliminate you from their list.

Internet Sales Manager Challenges

When the potential customer is sitting on their computer from their home or office they are using their logic to make a buying decision and we all know that we need to engage the customer’s emotions in order to make a deal and hold gross. So the biggest challenge any of any ISM is to sell yourself, the dealership and the appointment because it won’t do any good to try and sell the car (unless it is a used car) until they are on the show room floor. Once you get them into the dealership you can sell the car, but first you have to 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 is the right choice for them.

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 you are working with Internet customers. There are times when one phone call or one 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 salesman on the floor does not necessarily mean that you will be successful as an ISM because there are additional skills that need to be mastered. However if your car sales skills are weak on the floor you will probably be weak in 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 the move. And to put the final question to bed, yes you can earn a six-figure income in Internet Sales. I know many people that are 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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