The No-Pressure Internet Manager
Here's how our purchase went: We went into a Toyota dealership in Santa Monica, California, sidestepped several salespeople and asked the receptionist for a salesperson from the dealership's internet department. Her expression told us that this was an uncommon request, but she went along.
And so we met courtly, no-pressure Mark. We told him we wanted to buy a Toyota Sienna. He walked us outside to see the minivan and offered to let us test-drive it. We declined since we had already driven one. We just asked him to give us a price.
Mark led us to his office, which was across a busy street from the dealership and removed from the usual selling atmosphere. Mark turned his computer screen toward us, pointing at the Sienna's MSRP, the invoice price and all the options. He then said he would sell it to us for $500 over invoice.
We needed to confirm whether that was a competitive price, so we pulled out a smartphone and configured the Sienna on the Edmunds mobile site to see what others were paying. It listed the Edmunds True Market Value® price as $1,037 over invoice. This meant that Mark's offer of $500 over invoice was well below the average price that other people were paying for the car. So we made the deal.
We gave Mark a check as a deposit and arranged to have the minivan delivered to our office the following week. We left the dealership about an hour after we had arrived.
The next week, Mark arrived with the Sienna and the paperwork. We asked what the price would have been if we had gone the conventional route. He said it would have been $1,000 more "at least." The "at least" was probably because he was thinking that a conventional sale would have concluded in the finance and insurance office, where the dealership would have offered us additional products and services.