Professional Community for Car Dealers, Automotive Marketers and Sales Managers
‘The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.’
- John Maynard Keynes
If the goal of automotive retail is to not only embrace eCommerce, but behave like eCommerce then we must first understand that continuing to plug technology into an old and established sales culture will be the slowest road possible to achieving this. By hanging on to a traditional dealership sales culture for dear life, we will continue to force the consumer to operate in the dealers world as opposed to the world they know. One of abundant information and never ending engagement and sharing of ideas and experiences. Our industry can no longer afford to convince itself that their are two different types of customers, the internet savvy and the other kind.
Transparency seems to be the biggest issue. Dealers hear the word “transparency” and the first thing that comes to mind is “invoice” or worse! The fallacy here is that transparency isn’t about price at all, it’s about information. When a well researched consumer enters into your sales process and is being led through the “steps of the sale” they are waiting for the justification of all of the time they spent online researching this purchase. In most cases that information doesn’t meet the surface until the first pencil. That is why it appears to be about price, because that is when the consumer finally has no choice but to either reveal their hand or retreat back to their computer to verify what you have told them.
I am not at all suggesting that we should bring price to the surface early on. I am suggesting that we open the “internet” window much earlier in the sales process. Google says that the average consumer uses eighteen different online sources of information before visiting a dealership, which is more than most people use to research an elective medical procedure. You have a great opportunity to put your customer at ease by acknowledging that they are informed and well prepared to make this very important purchase. If the “Zero Moment of Truth” is second only to the sales experience at your store, why wouldn’t you want them to become more seamless.
Is there any reason that you wouldn’t want to know the answer to any of these questions early on in your sales process?
Since I have never been a fan of the term “qualifying” I will refer to this as the “Digital Needs Assessment”. What you achieve by asking these questions, is that you can reveal buying motivations as well as gaining insight into what the consumer knows and may not know. What is more important is that you are acknowledging that they are well informed and that you are not at all put off by it. It is important to welcome this information with a smile and a positive attitude. Now you can focus on building value and telling your dealers story. Let’s stop working the steps to the sale pretending that we’ll be able to overcome that “internet” hurdle when we get to it. Getting to it early can remove a lot of tension and be a very effective tool, not to mention shave hours off of the process.
One of the worst byproducts of forcing car shoppers to play by the old rules is that dealers continue to lay fertile ground for third parties to develop marketable strategies that help consumers to circumvent those rules. Although these sites can arm the consumer with a wealth of information, it can also place the consumer into a tenuous situation. If the sales person or dealerships primary goal is to work against the customers knowledge by discrediting it or ignoring it, this will cause the consumer to give even more credence to the research and information that they found online. This of course will create doubt in the consumer and the need to “go home” and re-examine their findings.
I have often heard sales people tell their customer “an educated consumer is our best customer” Why not just show them?
Here we can more closely examine the “Digital Needs Assessment” questions and open the floor to suggestions and ideas.