Consumer behavior has shifted. What troubles me, is that marketers have been aware of this shift for some time now, and some of us still fail to adapt to the ways our customers want to experience the buying journey.

To better illustrate my thoughts, I’ve chosen to deliver them at the expense of the stereotypical used car salesman we are all familiar with. I think we can agree that used car shopping isn’t an experience we are all eager to embark on and a lot of that has to do with the tactics conducted by the salespeople. The same thing can be true of your online marketing tactics.

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Are you the used car salesman of digital marketing? Scroll on to find out:

1. You List Features Instead of Benefits

“This vehicle has 85k miles, leather seats, Bluetooth connectivity, and acrylic paint.” We do this all too often. Listing the features of your product/service instead of highlighting the benefits.

We get it — your product has features. But what does that mean for me, the buyer? Not much, unless I’m a very knowledgeable consumer and am willing to connect the dots on my own.

Alternatively, tell your prospects why your product will be beneficial to them. For example, if you’re a SaaS provider, your website homepage may showcase all of the features of the program. This is common but not optimal. Instead of just listing those features, identify how they help solve problems your consumers may be challenged with. Instead of “Dedicated Server” say “99.9% Uptime.” Make sense?

2. You Use Unfamiliar Language

Another tactic leveraged by our stereotypical used car salesman is to use language that is unfamiliar to the average consumer. These may include specifications like horsepower, drivetrain, suspension, torque, braking systems, etc. I understand that these are all very important considerations that are often taken into account when purchasing a vehicle. However, if the car salesman tells you a specific model has a torque of 200 Nm, will you have any idea what that means? For the average car shopper, the answer is no.

Many online marketers fall into the same trap. On our websites, we often use language that many of our prospects are unfamiliar with. Instead, I’d suggest presenting the information on your site using language that is digestible to more than a few of your audience members. However, don’t forget to include a link to more in-depth product details or specifications for the individuals looking for more info.

3. You Control the Pace of the Conversation

Used car salesmen tend to control the pace of the conversation and the buying experience as a whole. This is part of the reason people feel so vulnerable when they shop for a used car. It is difficult to feel empowered when the salesman is dominating each step of the process.

Frankly, this is a major contributor towards the shift in consumer behavior. Now, on average, consumers go through 70%-90% of the buyer journey before contacting a vendor. That’s directly related to shoppers’ desire to control the pace of the journey. Online research/shopping allows your audience to do that with ease.

Think about a retail store. You walk in and a service rep immediately walks up to you and says “Can I help you find anything?” Most of the time, you’ll respond with “I’m just looking.” That’s because you want to control the pace of your shopping experience.

Used car salesmen tend to be more aggressive and demand that you fit into their forceful process. If you are too pushy with your online customer experience or sales processes, people will lose trust. Your website doesn’t have to always be closing, ABC as some would say — instead it should always be educating, ABE.

4. Instead of Answering Questions, You Resolve Objections

This is a common tactic of used car salesmen, and frankly many salesmen. You pose a question about a specific vehicle and instead of an honest, helpful answer, you receive a response that fails to provide you with what you were looking for. Rather, they treat your question like an objection and focus on resolving it.

Consumers can experience the same manipulation when browsing around the internet. They may end up on a web page looking for an answer to a question, and are presented with unapplicable sales jargon.

If I go to a pricing page, I want to see information on pricing. I want transparency. I don’t want “Our solutions are less expensive than our competitors.” In this example, the website is assuming price is going to be an objection I make and they rush to the resolution. It’s not. I just wanted real information.

5. You Use Common, “Salesy” Buzzwords

“Hurry on down!” “Buy Today!” “Unheard of Savings!” Today’s consumer doesn’t react to these messages the same way shoppers did 10-20 years ago. Especially millennial shoppers. I’d encourage you to avoid the common buzzwords entirely — we’ve heard them too frequently and they’re easy to drown out.

Now, that’s not to say that urgency and scarcity aren’t great marketing/sales tactics to be employed. Those are principles of selling and proven to be effective. I’m more focused on the way this information is presented. You don’t need to have a blinking light on your website that says “Hurry! Buy Now!” to create a feeling of urgency for your consumers. Instead, it could be as simple as, “Only 3 spots left” at the bottom of your webinar sign-up form. That feels authentic and honest to the visitor, something valued in today’s market.

6. You Look Untrustworthy

As you’ve read through this post, it is my hope that you’ve been picturing certain scenarios in your head. When you picture the interactions with our stereotypical used car salesman, what does he look like? Something like this:


Do you trust this guy? Are you excited to enter into the steps of a sales process with him, confident that he cares about your goals? Probably not.

THE SAME IS TRUE FOR YOUR WEBSITE! Looks matter! If your website looks cheap, your prospects aren’t going to enjoy interacting with it. It’s as simple as that.


Remember, it all surrounds the way your audience wants to shop. And in this day and age, people don’t want to feel that they’re being sold to.

Rather than being in the business of selling used cars, be in the business of helping people buy used cars. A simple change in perspective can be a huge step in the right direction.