Selling Cars Online or Offline: What Does an Efficient Road-to-the-Sale Look Like?


Before we look at an efficient road-to-the-sale (RTTS), let’s talk about what’s wrong with the traditional variety:

  • It takes too long.
  • It repeats steps.
  • It lacks transparency.

Your Road-to-the-Sale Takes Too Long

Even dealers who feel like they’ve squeezed out all of the unnecessary steps in their RTTS, still spend more than three hours on the average sold Up. Most consumers say they want this entire process to take less than an hour; and no one wants to give up their entire Saturday to buy a car; yet old-school trainers are still telling your team to slow down.

An efficient RTTS may still take a couple of hours from beginning to end, but it doesn’t seem that long to the prospect. This is because the steps make sense and the prospect is engaged in the process. Think about it, what feels longer: Sitting quietly for 30 minutes or watching a 30-minute sitcom? Keeping the customer engaged throughout the process makes it feel more efficient.

Your Road-to-the-Sale Repeats Steps

Today’s Up has already completed their need analysis; they’ve already done their product selection; they’ve already concluded their own feature presentation; and they did all of this before they arrived on your lot. They’re ready for the demo drive (your Step 5 or 6) and you take them back to your Step 1. Your RTTS assumes they know nothing, when the average Up has already completed roughly 20 hours of research.

You’re repeating steps they’ve already completed; and they arrived ready to buy! An efficient RTTS starts on the step the prospect needs in order to complete the purchase though without skipping any steps your team must take in order to close the deal. (Yeah, I know that’s vague, but it’s up to your team to determine your own buying process that maximizes closing percentages, grosses and CSI. We’ll look at my sample buying process later.)

There are other (not so obvious) ways you’re making today’s Up repeat steps and this includes all of the non-essential paperwork you’re heaping on your salespeople. For example, are you still requiring your salespeople to complete a paper trade-in form despite the fact that your managers moved to a mobile trade evaluator application years ago? Efficient processes are exactly that: efficient.

Your Road-to-the-Sale Lacks Transparency

Your old-school RTTS lacks transparency in both price and in process; and that, believe it or not, makes it seem inefficient (at best) to the prospect. Oh, and guess what? Adding in this transparency doesn’t reduce grosses, just friction.

A hallmark of an efficient process is process transparency. This means your prospect knows what’s already happened, what’s happening right now, and what’s going to happen next. That is, they understand the steps to the process, because these steps happen in an order that makes sense and that has already been explained to them.

Pricing transparency, by the way, doesn’t mean showing your hand, but it does mean allowing the customer to see how you got to where you are. Pricing transparency includes little things like:

  • Allowing the Up to value their own trade on your tablet or theirs;
  • Introducing and defending any addendum immediately prior to a test drive;
  • Presenting multiple payment options and the ability to self-select terms (again, with your tablet or theirs); and
  • Reviewing F&I add-ons (with pricing) before entering the business office.

The efficiencies realized with just a few simple changes not only provides the prospect with the speed they desire, but also reduces the friction that’s built into the typical RTTS.

Next up in the series: Let’s Remove (Not Reduce) The Friction

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: It’s About a Great Experience)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at