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Changing Culture, Changing Tides
Women are buying 45% of all vehicles at new car dealers today. Further, whether purchasing for herself or as part of a couple, this market segment retains 100% of the “veto power” at the dealership. Still, less than 1 in 10 front-line positions are held by women. Does it matter if women consumers deal with women or men sales consultants during their shopping and buying experience? Yes, it does.
In an industry-first national report, JoinWomenDrivers.com analyzed car dealer reviews based on the salesperson’s gender. Almost universally, women rated their satisfaction scores higher when dealing with female sales advisors.
This analysis has identified two major areas of improvement for dealerships attracting and retaining women shoppers. The information outlined below can be utilized to both hire and place the right women candidates in an effort to diversify the makeup of staff and/or train male employees in the behaviors, needs and outcomes of women shoppers. Ultimately, the results gathered by JoinWomenDrivers.com illustrates the need for significant culture shifts to address consumer experience concerns that directly impact sales success.
Methodology: Behind the Numbers
JoinWomenDrivers.com categorized 3,013 car dealer reviews and compared responses with 85% of the reviews rating men and 15% rating women.
The company generates its’ Women Satisfaction Index® (WSI) scores, ranging from a high of 5.0 to 1.0 for each car dealer review. After the review is posted, women are asked if they want to participate in a survey to provide more insight into their visit which helps the dealer understand and elevate the consumer experience. 94% of reviewers opt-in to the ‘digital ethnography’ where women self-report and respond to a 25 question survey for Purchasing, Shopping or Service Drive. For this report, the analysis is for Purchasing and Shopping only. The reviews and surveys were captured between
January 2017 and June 31, 2018.
In each of the following categories, purchase review scores that involved female sales consultants ranked higher than those of men:
Higher satisfaction scores are an indicator of higher CSI, more referrals and higher retention of customers for that dealership. A woman who drives her new vehicle away from the dealership and feels positive about her visit will return for service, return when she needs another car, and will “sell” the dealership to friends and family. These higher satisfaction ratings also relate directly to how quickly and how often the consultant can close a deal.
Customer Experiences: The Cornerstone to Successful Relationships
The company tracks customer experience influencers. Customer experiences contributing to purchasing satisfaction include low-pressure sales tactics and the ability of the consultant to listen. An approach that is perceived as high-pressure will send most consumers off to another dealership before the deal is done. If a woman feels the consultant isn’t listening, she will simply find someone who will.
A successful sales consultant with a high EQ understands their job is to assist and guide, not convince. They are also there to “get” the buyer. When a buyer is willing to recommend their salesperson, it is the highest compliment and creates more business opportunity for that individual, especially with reviews. This type of grassroots effort has been a recent focus. With low advertising cost, a customer’s social mention of a dealership or a salesperson can significantly influence Social Media visibility and Search Engine ranking.
In the report, the lowest customer experience influencer reported was how satisfied consumers were being greeted. Women were slightly more satisfied by being greeted by salesmen (58.0%) than by saleswomen (56.5%). This is a clear indicator there is tremendous room for improvement and making a more personal connection with guests at the store level and on-line.
Dealers are also reviewed for ‘shopping.’ A ‘shopping’ review is captured when there is an online engagement or email with a BDC or going into the store, test driving a vehicle, working up the numbers but not finalizing it (or variations).
The shopping WSI scores shows that women’s experience with female consultants are higher and more engaging than with men.
(4.66 vs 4.44)
Of note is that the satisfaction with the successful sales consultant also translates directly to the satisfaction with that dealership (4.74 v 4.55). When dealing with this consultant, her opinion of the dealership was also higher, even though she might have only worked with one woman during the entire dealership journey.
One might question the root of the cause in training a male salesforce. The female sales consultant’s tone, listening skills, and non-pushy demeanor are most noted in responses.
In Her Shoes: How Buyer Choices Are Made
When working with a consultant, women rate trust and respect at the top the list. Price is very important, but women rate that lower, because they believe they can buy the same car elsewhere for within a relatively narrow price margin.
In this report, women consultants were rated higher in each part of creating a successful relationship – Trustworthiness, Being Respectful, Likable and Understanding. Even in degrees, this evidence points to these consultants having a jump-start in getting to a successful sale.
With women salespeople only making up 8% of the force, this is an area that will likely continue to have similar results. A dealership can arm their male salesforce to focus on trustworthiness and respect, but overcoming preconceived notions may only be quelled by a more diverse sales team.
Identify Crucial Emotional Moments of the Sale
Shopping and buying a vehicle creates a range of feelings and emotions that women self-report. The chart to the right shows a tip-over point where the risk becomes higher for the deal to be thwarted. Keeping consumer’s levels high in the top three emotions and low in the remainder keeps a negotiation proceeding toward a sale. Successful sales consultants bring forth more positive emotions from buyers and how they view their own experience.
It’s natural for buyers to be apprehensive and nervous about buying a car as it is a top buying decision in any person’s life. The advisor can make a big difference in minimizing anxiety by observing whether a person is becoming overwhelmed with too many choices or too much information. Paying attention to body language and listening closely is key.
Two of these emotions, relaxed and confident, are the most important emotions to understand. A relaxed consumer will absorb more information and stay in the deal. It is in the interest of the sales advisor to increase buyers’ confidence. Boosting confidence will keep the dialogue and interest on track. A confident woman will ask the questions and get to a decision more quickly.
Fewer Visits Equates to More Sales
Women who purchase from saleswomen reported visiting an average of 1.75 dealerships before buying. Women who rated the 2,561 salesmen reported going to an average of 2.25 dealerships before purchasing their vehicle.
If a deal is not completed on a woman’s first visit, there is a 60% chance that those who leave and don’t buy that day, won’t return. The performance gap between women and men consultants will bring a shopper back or send her to the next dealership. Clearly, female consultants have a 29% edge in creating a higher level of satisfaction to potentially have her return to your store if she did not buy on a given day.
Hiring More Women. It’s Just Good Business.
The results in this breakthrough report indicate that when women car buyers interact with women on the front-line, satisfaction rates are higher at new car dealerships. Women and men don’t shop the same way, and a one-size sales approach does not fit all.
The evidence suggests that higher satisfaction and elevated consumer experiences conclude in higher revenue and stickier retention for your dealership. Hiring, developing and training more qualified female sales consultants is a way to connect better with all guests, especially women. Dealerships who become agents for change and narrow the gender gap in their staffing will reap the benefits by creating return customers who rave about their experience.
There are also opportunities, however, to shift the culture overall to speak more to the women consumer. As we evolve at such rapid rates due to technological and social media, consumers themselves are changing the expectations of the car shopping experience. The material they have in their hands walking into a dealership is far more detailed and researched than in previous years. Empowered women shoppers who may or may not be breadwinners and decision makers, now expect more from their experience. Dealership culture has seen a shift but the data shows there is far more work to be done to recruit and retain women shoppers to resolve their expectations and needs.