There’s usually not a lot of science behind pairing car shoppers up with dealership sales personnel. Whoever happens to be available when the shopper enters the dealership is about as technical as it gets. Cars.com, however, has other ideas. It believes that car shoppers should have as much to say about their choice of salesperson as online daters do about their choice of dates.
Cars.com recently expanded and enhanced Salesperson Connect, the service it launched in 2017 to make it easier to connect dealership salespeople directly to in-market shoppers before they visit the dealer lot, creating a more personalized car shopping experience for consumers.
“Real human relationships are a key to the next phase of the consumer-driven shopping transformation and providing car shoppers with valuable data and information around a specific salesperson moves us towards that goal,” said Tony Zolla, chief product officer at Cars.com.
As it turns out, customers like to find a salesperson that suits them before they even make the trip into the dealership. It’s a way they can raise the chances they’ll find a salesperson they can trust.
“In a survey of over 6,400 car shoppers on DealerRater.com, 97 percent of them prefer to select a salesperson before walking into the showroom, which means that making a personal connection early is incredibly valuable,” said Jamie Oldershaw, general manager of DealerRater, which was purchased by Cars.com in 2016. “Having access to reviews and information about specific salespeople at a dealership empowers consumers and helps them feel more comfortable about the car buying process.”
It works like this: Once the Cars.com vehicle shopper has located a vehicle he or she is interested in at a dealership, the shopper is presented with the personality profiles of the dealership’s top salespeople. (Salespeople must earn a preset number of positive customer reviews before they can qualify to have their names listed). The customer can then review the profiles and ask to be connected with the salesperson of their choice.
“The desire is to flip the script from the notion that the salesperson is an irritant and obstruction to a valued counselor and helper,” wrote Forbes contributor Jack R. Nerad. “Exposing the salespeople for what they are, real human beings with genuine human interests goes a long way toward making that happen. Buyers are responding to the new way of viewing their salesperson.”