Unconscious behaviors of your front and back end teams can be tricky and difficult to recognize, but they can make all the difference between a successful transaction and one that fails. Taking the intentional steps to realizing unconscious bias when it comes to women has a direct, positive impact for your stores bottom line.
Consider These Numbers:
- 60% of women who leave a dealership without buying a car never return.
- 59% of women don’t buy at a branded dealership closest to their home.
- 46% of women are going to three dealerships while shopping – this is twice the national average
Women and TRUST and RESPECT as their top reasons for buying from a specific dealership and sales advisor. So, women who don’t perceive that this is going to happen or is happening, will go elsewhere. These emotive factors can be challenging to establish if your women customers sense unconscious bias.
What Is It?
Unconscious bias can come in many forms and start with assumptions about a customer and what she needs. Here are some examples where bias might creep in to a sales discussion:
- A woman shopping on her own might only be “looking” until her husband can come with her.
- The male accompanying a woman must be her partner or husband.
- A woman shopping alone or with children probably needs a lot of guidance about the type of car she needs.
- A woman shopping for a luxury car probably can’t afford it.
The above examples show how easily ideas can enter a sales advisor’s thoughts without any effort. Everyone makes assumptions. Our brains work that way; its natural. However, when those assumptions cut into dealership sales, corrective action must be taken.
5 Ways to Prevent Unconscious Bias:
- Know the right questions to ask. The best way to overcome bias is to gather information. Establish a list of questions to ask your customers, and frame them in a positive light. For example, “Do you have a car in mind?” can identify what type car interests your prospect. “Is the car for you personally?” identifies if she is shopping for herself or a family car. Asking short questions opens the discussion for gathering more information and immediately sets the stage for the rest of the deal.
- Assume your prospect has most of the information she needs. Chances are, a woman has done her research before coming to a dealership. Internet searches are standard preparation. A sales advisor’s role today is to help answer questions and guide the process along.
- Don’t try to help a woman make up her mind. The days are long gone when a woman tolerated being led through their decisions. Women are savvy customers when it comes to car shopping. Assume they understand what they need.
- Realize that trust is the number one goal in customer engagement. Selling a car is great, but establishing a long-term, trusted relationship is more important. Trust can never be established if a sales advisor makes an incorrect assumption based on unconscious bias. It is best to create a profile of a prospect based ONLY on what the customer tells you.
- Phrase questions to avoid implying any bias. Questions asked should always be neutral, allowing prospects to fill in the blanks. A young woman who proudly saved money and established credit to buy a car will not appreciate questions that imply otherwise. A single mother will not appreciate asked about her husband. Questions that have the possibility of offending someone will quickly shut down a transaction.
Selling autos in today’s world is challenging. People have volumes of information at their fingertips and have many choices when it comes to buying a car. Savvy dealerships work to enhance their ability to be a trusted partner in and are proactive to eliminate negative bias that can send women customers elsewhere. Eliminating unconscious bias and replacing it with solid information gathering will drive dollars directly to your bottom line and ensure that your dealership becomes a trusted destination for women.
Author: Anne Fleming
Anne Fleming is president of Women-Drivers.com. The company has innovative solutions to assist dealers in showcasing their trust + commitment to women buyers and in turn expand their sales to this powerful buying segment.