No matter how complicated car-purchasing becomes, one simple truth endures: the path to purchase ends with a person working with another person. So I am excited to announce that Cars.com has just rolled out an enhanced vehicle detail page (VDP) that features salespeople profiles drawn from the DealerRater network.
As noted in a recent press release, Cars.com has now made it possible for shoppers to select salespeople directly through the Cars.com VDP before they walk on a lot. As a result, shoppers enjoy a more personalized experience with the dealer, and dealers are connected with in-market shoppers who are motivated to buy.
As I mention in the Cars.com press release, 97 percent of car shoppers prefer to choose a salesperson before they select a dealership. Salespeople are becoming more important because purchasing an automobile has become more complicated, thanks to the plethora of features and pricing options available from OEMs and dealerships. Effective salespeople do much more than sell cars – they build relationships by acting as trusted resources. Car shoppers are acknowledging the increasingly crucial role of the salesperson by rating them on sites such as DealerRater.
At the same time, car shoppers demand transparency about every aspect of the automobile purchase – an expectation that has been shaped by their experiences online in industries ranging from home purchasing to ride sharing. We know that having access to reviews and information about specific salespeople at dealerships builds trust with shoppers before they set foot on the lot, which is why earlier in 2017 we introduced our DealerRater Connections product to connect consumers with salespeople through dealer reviews.
And now, Cars.com is showcasing top-reviewed salespeople from DealerRater platform directly on the dealerships’ inventory pages on Cars.com. Consequently, shoppers enjoy an improved shopping experience with proven salespeople who are dedicated to building their professions in the automotive industry (81 percent of DealerRater Certified Salespeople are retained by the dealership annually2). And dealers can reward their best salespeople by featuring them on the VDP. Specifically, I see three key outcomes from importing DealerRater salespeople profiles into the Cars.com VDP:
- More salespeople can create connections with consumers in that “last mile” before vehicle purchase. The consumer will feel empowered and informed knowing before they visit the lot that they are meeting with a top-quality salesperson.
- Dealerships can highlight their top salespeople where consumers are shopping all over the digital world beyond the dealership’s own website – thus simplifying the shopping process by publishing information consumers want in one convenient place.
All salespeople of dealerships who are DealerRater Connections customers are eligible to have their profiles featured in the Cars.com VDP (unless the salesperson has opted out of the process). The VDPs will give priority to dealership employees who have attained Certified status on DealerRater, then the highest individual average rating, then those with the most reviews occurring within the past 30 days, and then the highest number of lifetime reviews. Shoppers need not select a salesperson to submit a lead on Cars.com.
Early tests of these profiles have yielded enthusiastic results, which is why Cars.com has rolled out the enhanced VDPs nationally. When a business humanizes its brand by highlighting its people and their expertise, consumers respond favorably. Thanks to the enhanced VDPs, dealers now have an opportunity to highlight their sales team and to secure more high-quality leads. And the auto shopper gets what he or she wants: personalization and empowerment.
 Survey of 6,413 recent car shoppers on DealerRater.com, March 2016