Nothing is ever sold by a sales person or purchased by a shopper without justification or validation.

Companies spend billions each year in marketing and advertising to convince shoppers that their products are value-worthy. Using the Internet, shoppers are able to easily compare prices and even reference opinions from other informed consumers.

So although the technique and technology for justifying and validating have changed over the years, the basic need to justify and validate has not.

Until now, however, one aspect of purchasing a used vehicle has not changed much at all. Once consumers zero in on a vehicle they would like to purchase, they engage with the dealership sales representative.

At that moment of engagement, the salesperson and the customer are pitted against each other in a duel to achieve their respective objectives. For the customer, it's to purchase the vehicle for the least among of money. For the sales representative, it is to obtain the most on behalf of the dealership.

As much as a dealership tries to make the experience pleasant, the relationship at this particular moment is charged with tension and uncertainty.

What further frustrates dealers is the increasing number of car buyers that want to get the best price without ever visiting the dealership. This pattern of behavior makes it very difficult for sales people to establish a personal relationship of value and obligation. As a result, many dealerships are reluctant or refuse to provide a shopper with a price or “best price” without the shopper physically visiting the dealership.

Simply stated, the traditional means of price justification on the part of the seller needs to change because the validation process on the part of the shopper has changed.

This disconnect has created the need for a new process and new tools. Dealerships must be prepared to provide value justifications within a means and context that are both acceptable and pleasing to buyers.

This need has given rise to the first solution which serves the interest of both buyers and sellers in the process. This solution begins with the recognition that both buyer and seller can agree on the premise that vehicles can and should be offered for prices that are fair and represent true values.

From a buyer's perspective, this means that dealerships are entitled to make a profit, providing that the prices that are offered can be substantiated as such in an honest and transparent manner relative to identically competing vehicles in the market.

On the part of the dealership, this new process is based on the premise that vehicles need to be offered for purchase not necessarily for the highest or lowest price, but for a price that makes sense.

Up until now, the lack of shared knowledge on the part of both buyers and sellers has resulted in lost sales and gross profit. Now, there is a new tool that facilitates a new process. This new process is collaborative rather than confrontational in technique and objective.

This new system allows a dealership, at the push of a button, to generate a live analysis and a custom presentation to a consumer based on the competitive landscape for that vehicle in the current market.

This system identifies each and every similar vehicle along with the specific differentiating attributes such as mileage, equipment, history, and relative value-differentiating factors. While the dealership's price may not be the lowest, the competing vehicles with lower prices will be revealed along with the necessary information to understand why they are, in fact, a lower value.

For the first time, sellers and buyers can achieve their respective objectives of justification and validation in a collaborative manner.

Once the system produces the results, either interactively or on paper, sales representatives and shoppers can arrive at consensus as to the fairness of the dealership's offered price.

If the system demonstrates that the shopper's target purchase price or the dealership's offered price is not reasonable in light of the true market reality, then either side can adjust their offer in a face-saving win-win environment.

The result is a shared experience in which both parties will feel that they have participated in a fair and equitable exchange. The bottom line is that dealers will close more sales, hold more gross, and satisfy more customers.

Dale Pollak, founder and CEO of vAuto, Inc., is a highly sought-after authority on maximizing profits from used-vehicle operations. He is at 877-828-8614 or dale.pollak@vauto.com.

Questions or comments about this column? Send us an e-mail at Dealers@wardsauto.com.