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The Right Path to Get Your Dealership Back in the Driver's Seat and on the Road to the Sale

Rob Campbell, Performance Improvement Consultant
by Rob Campbell, Performance Improvement Consultant

The Right Path to Get Your Dealership Back in the Driver's Seat and on the Road to the Sale

When I first came into the car business, I was taught the 10-step Road to the Sale. It went like this: dealership road to the sale

The Road to the Sale

1. Meet and Greet

2. Interview

3. Vehicle Selection

4. Walk-Around

5. Test Drive

6. Trade Evaluation

7. Present Numbers and Ask for the Sale

8. Close

9. F&I Turn

10. Delivery and Service Drive Intro

For as long as there have been car dealerships, salespeople have been trained and have used some form of the above steps with great success. Once I learned the steps and mastered the art of personalizing that road for each customer, it was a powerful and extremely profitable way to sell cars. But over the last few years, I’ve had a number of dealers tell me the road to the sale has dramatically changed. Are they right?

We Don’t Need No Stinking Brochure

When I got into the business in 1993, I would guess that close to half of the customers who walked onto the showroom floor were there for one thing… a brochure. Most people were just starting their car shopping and wanted to know what was available on the latest and greatest models. The brochure signified an initial step on the road. We passed out so many brochures the dealer would routinely complain about how much they cost every time we had to reorder them.

Ask yourself this question: How many customers ask for a brochure today? I was recently at a dealership when a customer asked for one. It took 20 minutes for the salesperson, Sales Manager and General Manager to locate where the brochures were stored.

So what does this mean? Customers don’t need brochures anymore because they arrive at your store much further down the road than they used to. They still move through all the same steps but, the difference is that they’ve done most of their research and shopping without ever talking to anyone at your dealership.

In fact, a recent study by the Corporate Executive Board revealed that 57% of buying decisions are made before a sales rep is even involved.

Let me say that a different way:

Over half of your customers have made a buying decision before they’ve ever talked to anyone at your dealership!

Not that long ago there were relatively few avenues to target your audience with your dealership message, drive them to your showroom and ultimately get them on the Ro

ad to the Sale. You could run truck ads on the local country station or use direct mail to hit customers within specific demographics and zip codes. When done right, your audience would react to your targeted advertising messages and customers would show up at your dealership.

Then, the Internet came along and your ability to target specific audiences went from just a handful of options to virtually thousands. In the process, the customer gained more and more control of what, when and how they consumed information about their vehicles of interest. Today’s s

hopper has taken so much control that in most cases, they’ve already driven themselves through the first 4 stops on the Road to the Sale before they get to your store.

So it’s harder now to guide your customers through the early stops on the road, right? Not at all! As long as you’re willing to take the road out of your dealership.

You Can Take the Road Out of the Dealership, But You Can’t Take the Dealership Off the Road

So how can you continue to manage your audience experience on the road to the sale and personalize that experience the same way you would if it happened in your showroom?

I think we can all agree that no two customers are the same when they walk into your showroom. If no two shoppers are the same, no two website experiences should be the same either. Amazon, Netflix and Google get this. They offer personalized web experiences to each unique visitor. Why? Easy— it works.

A recent Econsultancy study found that businesses that personalize website experiences increase sales by an average of 19%.

Personalizing the way your shoppers experience your brand on your website and across the different sites they shop is no longer reserved exclusively for the online mega-retailers. Your dealership can now greet each individual website visitor with a uniquely personalized digital showroom.

Personalization is no trend. It’s a legitimate game changer. Here’s why…

Flipping the Lens on Personalization

This is the thing— personalization is too often viewed through a consumer lens. Yes— it enhances the consumer experience. And yes— we should care about the consumer experience. As it improves, so does shopper engagement on your site and affinity toward your brand. But that’s only half the story.

Personalization is not just about reacting to shopper behavior. It’s about proactively managing your audience experience. It’s about influencing that behavior. It’s about giving you control over the experience your shoppers have with your brand.

In short— it’s about putting you back on the Road to the Sale.

After all, you’re the car expert. To borrow a line from one of the coolest men on earth, car shoppers want you on that road. They need you on that road. They just might not know it.

Your dynamic website can put you back in the driver’s seat. Yes, it can react to your visitor behavior and show them what they’re looking for. But it can ALSO steer them in the direction of the models you want to move, just as you would if they were on your lot.

Wanna get back on the road? In my latest webinar, I breakdown how you can start personalizing your website experience for your customers and the impact it can have your profit. #audiencematters

About the Author

Rob Campbell is a Cobalt Performance Improvement Consultant. His nearly 20 years in the automotive industry has allowed him to develop a unique automotive marketing skill-set. He’s been able to help dealers develop new and different ways of doing business that achieve high results, and while thriving in a constantly changing environment and quickly adjusting to the individual needs of our clients. His real strength comes not only in the form of new ideas but the also the ability to get those ideas implemented. Give him a shout at at

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Tags: audience, buying, digital, internet, marketing, process, profitibility, sales


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