Today’s consumer needs are continually changing, and because of that, it’s a good idea to stay on top of current trends and marketplace shifts in order to offer exactly what shoppers are looking for. With the convenience of technology, you’ve likely already noticed your customers turning to online resources for a majority of their research and purchases. While this change is inevitable, it’s also something you can leverage to benefit your dealership and sell more cars—if you get to know your shoppers and find out how you can partner with them to help them have the best buying experience possible.
Within the past several years, shoppers have shifted toward buying more products online—for the sake of convenience and to support their busy lifestyles. In fact, in a recent study of 23,000 consumers in 25 countries, it was shown that 54% buy products online weekly or monthly, with 67% saying that online reviews affect their online purchasing decisions. To the surprise of some businesses, technology is being adopted and utilized by consumers at an amazing rate, but those who are embracing this change and adopting the tools necessary to help them connect with consumers in new and improved ways are succeeding and gaining shopper loyalty.
For your dealership, it’s important to remember that car shopping now begins well before consumers set foot on your lot, and this means you’ll want to find new and innovative ways to reach out and let shoppers know you’re available and able to provide both online and dealership expertise to sell more cars. While the majority of dealerships aren’t likely to be ready to sell vehicles entirely online just yet, there are things you can do to modernize the shopping experience and demonstrate to consumers you have their best interests at heart:
Recognize their pain points. Shoppers have valid reasons for avoiding dealerships, and when you make it a priority to both recognize and lessen the things they view as negative aspects of the buying process, you’ll make great headway toward earning their business. Most consumers think the buying process is too lengthy, some dislike haggling over price, and others are simply looking for better amenities while they wait. When you consider ways to increase communication, decrease wait times, and add to shoppers’ comfort while in your dealership, you’ll begin to build trust in the experience your dealership offers.
Lean in to technology. Not long ago, your customers visited about 5 dealerships before making a purchase decision; now they visit an average of 1.6 dealerships. What does this mean? It means shoppers are leveraging technology to do research, and they are arriving at your dealership more educated about the vehicles they’re interested in. They’re also looking to your dealership staff to be educated about the cars on your lot and ready to meet their needs. By utilizing tools like AutoAlert’s PandoSocial, your employees can access powerful information like reviews and comparisons via their smartphones—giving them the ability to answer customer questions on the spot.
Personalize the experience. While the role of the traditional salesperson is changing, your customers still want to feel like their individual dealership experiences are tailored to them. When your team reaches out to share their knowledge about things like entertainment systems, navigation systems, automated parking, satellite radio, and other great vehicle features, they’ll not only be offering a great experience, but they’ll also be conveying your customers can expect to find product expertise every time they set foot in your dealership. Along these lines, BMW, a leader in the luxury vehicle arena, plans on continuing to invest in its product Geniuses, customer advisers who focus specifically on vehicle features, rather than sales.
Embrace new strategies. A few dealers have been experimenting with the idea of selling cars online and in pop-up showrooms in shopping centers, and Tesla has broken new ground with its innovative selling strategy. While most dealerships won’t be drastically changing their methods or turning solely to online selling anytime soon, there’s definitely something to be said for offering innovation to your customers. For example, customers have responded well to a brand-new environment in dealerships where old business models give way to new ways of thinking which include no haggling, no spiffs, no commissions, and a 1-hour out-the-door guarantee. While you may not get all that accomplished overnight, it’s worth giving some consideration to the ways your dealership can tackle innovation to better meet the needs of today’s shoppers.
Car dealerships and sales teams today have plenty of hard work ahead of them to capture the attention of shoppers in a crowded and busy marketplace and sell more cars. But one thing is certain: when they focus on continual change to benefit the consumers they’re serving, dealerships will win in the end. By embracing change and innovation—as well as leaning in to modern shopper needs—your dealership will sell more cars and end up with more loyal customers who place their trust in the experience your dealership offers.