What a Used Car Salesman Can Teach Us About Internet Marketing

For several months Lisa, has been eyeing the Jeep Wrangler Sahara 4×4 and finally went to a Jeep/Chevy/Buick dealer in San Marcos for a test drive.

After the salesman grabbed a set of keys, we climbed in for a test drive. We were a mile down the road when Lisa noticed the gas gauge was on Empty. We had to turn around and worried that we might have to walk back to the dealer.

We made it back on fumes and Lisa asked about testing a four-wheel drive model. We watched the salesman’s body language as he told us he’d have to shuffle several vehicles around to get to the lone available 4×4.

When asked several questions about the Jeep, the sales guy couldn’t answer any of them. He told us he’d only been there a few months and didn’t know Jeeps that well.

How can you be on the job for a few months and know less about the cars you sell than someone that spent an hour or two on the company website?

We drove down the road to check out another vehicle Lisa was interested in. During the test-drive, we asked the salesman a question. He couldn’t answer explained he’d only worked for the dealership for a few days and wasn’t that familiar with the Honda line yet.

Want to hear the punch line? We were test driving a Toyota. You’d think the guy could remember who he worked for.

Now maybe you think I’m being unfair or too demanding. That’s because I’ve been spoiled by Jeff Cunningham at BMW of Austin.

I bought my first convertible, a gently used Z3 roadster, from Jeff back in the summer of 2005. The temperature hit 108 the day I walked into the dealership.

The heat didn’t seem to bother Jeff. He greeted me with genuine enthusiasm and took me for a test drive. He got behind the wheel first and put the little roadster through it’s paces.

Within minutes, I knew what the car was capable of performance-wise as well as its safety features. His enthusiasm behind the wheel was contagious. It was obvious that Jeff not only loved BMW’s but knew everything about them as well as the competition.

Despite the blistering heat, Jeff was patient and helpful as I insisted on test-driving six different Z3’s. When I signed on the dotted line the next day, it was the conclusion of the most pleasant, stress-free car deal I’d ever experienced.

Jeff Cunningham with Lisa's 2007 BMW X3
Jeff Cunningham with Lisa's 2007 BMW X3

Before I left, Jeff insisted on doing some last-minute detailing of the car, showing me little tips and tricks to keep the roadster looking great. The great service continued after I bought the car, too.

When I decided to trade the Z3 for a newer Z4 roadster in March, naturally I bought it from Jeff. And had the same fantastic service.

Bill Hibbler's 2003 BMW Z4
Bill Hibbler's 2003 BMW Z4

A couple of weeks ago, I brought my car in for service. When I was told the service department had run out of free loaner cars, it was Jeff to the rescue.

He sent me home in a 2006 X3, BMW’s mini four-wheel drive SUV home from the used car lot. After fifteen minutes with Jeff, I knew the complete scoop on the X3 and also knew Lisa would love it.

She did but was still interested in the comparable Toyota and Lexus models.

Last week, we test-drove several X-3’s. Unlike the sales staff at Jeep and Toyota, Jeff had the answer to every question Lisa and I threw at him.

When asked about the Lexus, he gave us the whole scoop on the vehicle. He’d worked for Toyota and Lexus for three years and he brought out a notebook he kept in his desk with article clippings to back up any claims.

He wasn’t afraid to point out areas where the Lexus had an edge over the BMW, either. He just demonstrated why the BMW was better the overall choice. And he made the sale and Lisa got a car she’s thrilled to own.

Lisa's 2007 BMW X3
Lisa's 2007 BMW X3

Another way Jeff scored points was not trying to sell us every single add-on to pad the sale. By giving us honest feedback about certain upsells that weren’t worth the money, he further gained our trust and made us very comfortable with the added services Lisa ultimately chose.

So what lessons can we take learn from our used car salesman?

  1. Know your product. While experience helps, being new is no excuse for not knowing the basics about the product or service you’re selling whether it’s a product you created or you’re an affiliate.

    If you’re just starting out, read up on everything you can about your particular niche. The Internet makes research far easier than it used to be. You can find brochures, reviews, articles, ebooks and more on just about any product or service on the market. Expert help is available on almost any topic online. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in forums or discussion groups. And chances are, you’re question has been asked and answered already. Try typing your question in Google.

  2. Know your competition. Rarely is your product the only choice potential buyers are considering. Do you know how your product measures up to the competition?

  3. Be honest about your products (or your own) shortcomings. While everyone wants to represent the best, there are no perfect products. If a competitor outshines you in a particular area, don’t try to hide it. Buyers are probably already aware of it and will appreciate your candor. By being straightforward, you’ll earn their trust and be given an opportunity to demonstrate why doing business with you is still the best overall choice.

    That’s also what’s allowed me to standout from the competition when reviewing Internet marketing products. When I started out, the only ‘reviews’ I saw were ‘rah-rah’ pieces that looked like they were written by the sales staff for the product. And in many cases, that’s exactly what they were. Believe me, people know the difference between honesty and hype.

  4. Be enthusiastic. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re selling, then potential buyers won’t be either. If you don’t can’t generate enthusiasm, maybe it’s time for to changes niches (or careers).
  5. Follow Up After the Sale. I’ve made many high-ticket purchases and never heard from people I’ve never heard from again. Smart marketers know it’s far easier to sell to existing customers than a brand-new prospect. It’s also a great way to get referrals.

    Online, tools like autoresponders can make follow-ups easy. But don’t stop there. Internet marketing can be pretty impersonal at times. If you want to stand out from the crowd, reach out and touch your customers. Send a personal email, a post-card or, better yet, pick up the phone.

Follow these five steps and you’ll be amazed at how much it will affect your bottom-line.

And if you’re in the market for a clean, used car, give Jeff Cunningham a call at 512-343-3585. And tell him I sent you.

All the best,


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