According to Santander Consumer USA, used cars are expected to outsell new cars nearly 2 to 1 this year, making it more important than ever for dealerships and sales professionals to understand what’s driving this trend and how to work with shoppers as they try to find the best vehicles for their particular needs. Used car shoppers have unique needs that drive them to your dealership, and in order to win their trust and convince them to buy from you, you’ll need to show them you’re able to offer what they’re looking for in a way that makes them feel positive about their purchasing choices.
It’s not surprising consumers often wander toward the shiny new cars on your lot first, but the price tag and payments that go along with new vehicles can be daunting—and more than many shoppers can handle. This fact alone has many shoppers turning to quality used vehicles, and if your dealership handles a large selection of used cars, you’ll want to know how to best connect with your customers.
Used-car sellers have to combat a predetermined reputation that has been built over years. Shoppers often square off against these professionals and assume they are about to be swindled, tricked, or taken advantage of simply because of the nature of the business, and it’s up to your dealership to tear down these walls. Everything matters—from the very first moment of customer contact to the final signing of paperwork to follow-up and vehicle maintenance. When your reputation is on the line, customer perception of your dealership and the service that’s provided is essential
There are several things your dealership professionals can do from the beginning to earn customer trust and ensure used-car shoppers feel comfortable. Consider some of the following to get you started:
Focus on great communication. Take the time to talk—and truly listen—to shoppers in order to understand their needs. Are they shopping out of necessity? Do they want to upgrade for space, mileage improvements, or safety reasons? Often, shoppers feel like they are not heard, and instead feel like salespeople are simply trying to push product on them. By actively listening and working to meet their needs, you’ll have a better chance at a sale, and you’ll be earning trust in the process.
Focus on your relationship. It’s important to let your customers know you’re there for them. While it’s tempting to jump immediately into selling-mode, take a few minutes to get to know your customers and what they’re all about. When you’re able to find some common ground, you’ll be able to create a rapport with them that places you in a role of trusted advisor, rather than salesperson.
Focus on the value you offer, rather than what you sell. As professionals who are in the business of selling, this can be a difficult task, however, by doing this, you’ll end up with more sales in the long run. By sharing the ways your dealership can help shoppers, it will be easier for them to see themselves aligning with you for a purchase. Be sure to show the beyond-the-sale benefits of buying from you, like quick oil changes, maintenance reminders, certified technicians, and anything else that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Focus on a great experience. Many used-car buyers have gone through a car-buying experience before, and it’s likely they have unpleasant stories to share. This is your chance to change their perception of the industry as a whole by providing the best overall buying experience possible. Think about the things you often hear, especially when it comes to used-car purchases, and consider ways you can change the customer perception:
Focus on building dealership credibility. Ditch the bad rep that seems to accompany used car sales for good by doing things like providing great information for your customers, a reliable website with links to outside resources, and updated content that educates rather than pushes consumers to buy. When you lessen the pressure and offer avenues that allow shoppers to explore their options and learn about what’s offered, you’ll be seen as a facilitator and someone they want to turn to when it’s time to purchase.
It’s tough to gain trust and credibility in a market that’s both crowded and slightly suspicious of car dealerships, so it’s important to gain your footing early in the customer/salesperson relationship and then maintain it every step of the way. Remember, your customers walk into your dealership with something specific in mind, and if you listen to their needs, work to assuage their fears and insecurities about the buying process, and offer them what they’re looking for, they’ll likely realize you’re on the same team and see you as an ally throughout their purchasing journey.