New Study Finds Dealership Salespeople have Greatest Influence on Buying, Leasing Decisions

According to a new study, dealership salespeople have more influence on consumers’ buying decisions than all other marketing sources.

The findings of the study, conducted by Maritz Research marketing research firm of St. Louis, Missouri, are in contrast to the widely-held belief that consumers rely heavily on online marketing sources as the basis of their buying and leasing decisions.

According to the study of consumers who purchase or leased a vehicle in 20011, 21.98 percent reported that a salesperson had had the greatest impact on their decision to purchase or lease a vehicle. The survey also found that family members and friends had a large influence on buying decisions. Recommendations by family or friends were cited as the single largest factor in the decisions of 18.66 percent of respondents.

Maritz Research’s vice president and strategic consultant Chris Travell said, “People buy from people.” He added that online marketing sources, including social media, can “support the selling effort, but I believe it would be a mistake to believe that social media will usurp it.” But he also said that Facebook and Twitter were not effective platforms for forming people’s buying decisions in 2011. In fact, Facebook ranked No. 17 on the list of influencers.  Twitter ranked No. 20; just above chat rooms, blogs and online forums in the list of most influential sources.

The Maritz study found that a significantly larger percentage of participants cited a salesperson or word of mouth from friends or family members as having the greatest influence on their buying or leasing decision in 2011 that in the previous five years.

Travell said, “We look to those we trust for their recommendation, especially when the buying decision is perceived as having a potentially high risk, like in buying a new car.”

Survey participants cited shopping guides like Consumer Reports as the third-most-influential source of information. According to Maritz, such guides were less influential in 2011 than in previous years.

Less than nine percent of participants cited auto dealer and manufacturer Web sites and third party sites as having the largest influence on their buying and leasing decisions.

Still Travell said, “It’s in the best interest of the dealers to make sure their sites are the very best they can be by providing customers with accurate, relevant, and current information about their dealership operations and the vehicles they have for sale.”

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