The Road to the Sale is dead. This concept that consumers arrive at a decision to purchase because we’ve walked them through a drawn-out series of steps is no longer realistic. If the average prospect told us how they would like to buy rather than be sold, I highly doubt any would devise such a tortuous sequence of events as we’ve created for them.
We have to eliminate the idea that a Road to the Sale sells cars. It’s no longer a road for which the customer is searching. They’ve already taken a long path to get to the point in time where they arrive at a dealership. They’ve been on a road already so there is no need to place them on another. Customers base their decisions on a variety of factors found well in advance of buying – and oftentimes even before having contacted your store. They may decide to buy from you because of your location or their proximity to the store. They may choose you because you house the specific piece of inventory in stock they seek. Maybe you have earned their trust with speed and straightforward communication in advance of their arrival. Or they may have been won over based on word of mouth, reviews/ratings, a well-timed ad that details a value proposition, or a previous experience with the store.
What didn’t win them over was the delightful 10-step process they were arduously guided through when visiting your dealership. Certainly, there are actions that must be completed whilst the customer is in store in an effort to answer their questions and confirm their purchase intent. No one is choosing you, though, because of your meticulous explanation regarding the performance specs under-the-hood during a 14-point product presentation. No… customers have decided they will buy from you before they showed up.
I’m not saying that sales skills never come into play. Truth is, the average customer’s mind is made up already when they arrive at your store due to the research they’ve found, or the communication they’ve received from you in advance. If anything, it’s more common that an experience on the sales floor sours their intended purchase than it is to have been their reason for buying.
Look at what information you are offering them on your website, out in the open. Does your website have the ability to answer every question they have, or is it just meant to get a form field submission? Consumers already know that calling or emailing your dealership is an option. They may not know how transparent you’re willing to be with your pricing, inventory, pictures, payments, processes, or personnel information that would allow them to make a decision who and where to buy from before a single point of contact.
At the 18th Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition in Tampa Florida from April 21-23, Mark Stringfellow, Vice President of The Next Up, and I will be giving a presentation titled “Your Road to the Sale is Dead”. We’ll be detailing specific data points culled from tens of thousands of showroom customers, and inbound leads, to help your store better grasp what it takes to streamline the sales process within your dealership.
Customers aren’t looking for someone at a dealership to sell them a vehicle. They are looking for someone who won’t stand in their way when attempting to buy a vehicle. Shoppers just don’t want us to make this process or transaction harder than it needs to be. They just want us to get out of their way… or… dare I say… make their purchase process even faster. They do not want to experience a road to the sale. Your dealership doesn’t need to be a road. Your dealership needs to be the place where they get off the road to have their needs met. Look at yourself online and see what it takes to be their Exit to the sale.