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Survey: Dealers Overestimating Customer Trust

April 12, 2017

Click to view an infographic summarizing the results of MAXDigital’s dealer survey.
Click to view an infographic summarizing the results of MAXDigital’s dealer survey.

CHICAGO — Before and during the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)’s 2017 Convention & Expo in New Orleans, about 400 dealer principals, general managers, internet managers and used-car managers completed a survey. They were asked to rate the degree of trust they have established with their customers, the product knowledge possessed by their sales professionals, and how much they are willing to discount listed prices in a margin-compressed environment.

The survey was conducted by MAXDigital in partnership with Erickson Research. The results, which were published in “The 2017 Dealer Trust & Transparency Survey,” indicate that dealers may need to reevaluate their customers’ perceptions of their operations and rethink the way they negotiate deals.

Highlights of the survey results include:

  • Nearly 70% of dealers said their stores have earned a “high level” of trust among their customers. A December 2016 Gallup poll found that only 9% of car buyers felt the same.
  • The vast majority (89%) of dealers said customers trust what their salesperson tells them about a vehicle “mostly,” “somewhat” or “not much”; only 10% said “completely.”
  • Only 35% of dealers said they would “completely agree” that their salespeople are “very familiar” with the vehicles they sell.
  • Only 15% of dealers said their sales team knows more about a given vehicle than their customer “always” or “most of the time” (and 5% said “never”).
  • More than half (56%) of dealers are offering discounts of $500 or more to close the deal, and 11% said they “don’t know” what their average discount is.

“This research highlights the need for dealers to recognize that their sales processes may no longer match customer expectations or preconceived notions,” said MAXDigital CEO Steve Fitzgerald. “Consumer buying habits have changed, and it appears that many dealers haven’t addressed the need to become product experts and to sell based on quality and value, instead of price.”

Click here to read the full text of the report.


  1. 1. Cory [ April 13, 2017 @ 12:43PM ]

    Well...with all due respect....duh. A salesperson now has to know about 10-20 (depending on the store) different models of cars, that each have 3-4 trim levels and each have 2-5 different packages that may or may not be on a vehicle. A customer narrows down their search online to a particular model, then trim level, then packages and shows up to the store with ALL the details of that particular car or truck. I am a pretty bright guy (college graduate and graduated 3rd in my high school class) and I will be the first to tell you that it's almost impossible to know everything about ALL of your makes and models and packages (there are 2 million different ways you can order a Chevy Silverado!) AND know what the competition has to offer. Especially for the peanuts that most sales guys get paid now.


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