A customer walks into your dealership wanting to know all about the 2015 Acura TLX you have on the lot. Wouldn’t it be great if your sales consultant just happened to commit to memory the current Kelly Blue Book price, as well as all the features and options on that exact model? Obviously, you can’t expect your salespeople to be walking encyclopedias. However, your customers do.
The new customer: savvy and distrustful
Today’s consumers are not like they used to be. With the help of technology, they’re a lot more knowledgeable. In fact, the average consumer spends 14 hours researching online before buying a used car*. By the time they walk through your doors, it’s a good bet they’re more informed than your salespeople.
There’s more. Car buyers are still very skeptical of sales consultants. In fact, the percentage who have a high level of trust for salespeople is only 9%*. If your consultants don’t have answers or say something that doesn’t sync up with what a customer has read online, this will throw what little trust customers they have out the window. These are fundamental problems that are getting in the way of our industry’s ability to sell at our asking price. So, where do we go from here?
Dealers need to reframe the selling process. It’s no longer about the dealership’s “Road to the Sale.” It’s about the customer’s “Path to the Purchase.” And making that journey the best it can be by infusing confidence and trust into the process. Here’s how it can be done: First, turn your salespeople into Just-In-Time Experts. Second, make the Car the Star.
While we’d all love for our salespeople to be instant experts on every vehicle. It’s simply not possible. Especially considering the turnover rate for sales consultants is at an all-time high at 67%*.
Dealerships are watching their trained and experienced staff literally walk out the door. However, with the right tools, you can arm your salespeople with the information they need, when they need it. No more guesswork or trying to keep track of every vehicle on the lot. Instead, up-to-the-minute information that customers want to know.
Just imagine the difference a team of Just-In-Time Experts can make. Your salespeople will be more informed about the vehicles they’re selling. And in turn, they’ll be more confident with customers and better able to answer their questions effectively. That confidence builds confidence. Your customers will feel like they’re talking with people who are knowledgeable — and who they can trust. You’ve just killed two birds with one stone and advanced your customer on their journey to purchase.
How to get expertise, just in time?
Where does all this knowledge come from? Same as consumers: technology. Dealers must make the move and adopt information technology to empower their salespeople. The problem is, many dealerships aren’t convinced that technology is not only necessary, but a very worthy investment.
Here are more reasons why.
Make the Car the Star
The car industry has historically relied on a price-driven strategy. This is no longer effective for two reasons. Reason one: Dealers are pricing vehicles at market value. Profit margins are already too skinny, so there’s no room for discounting or negotiating on price. Reason two: Today’s customers aren’t interested in the lowest price. Their “Path to the Purchase” is about finding quality at a fair price. Remember, they’ve done their homework and know what your sticker says. They’re at your dealership to hear about the vehicle’s features and benefits — the technology package, the safety features, and third-party reviews. Note: This is where the Just-In-Time Experts really shine. A sales consultant equipped with knowledge can share compelling, evidence-based proof points that make the Car the Star. And by doing so, they’re justifying the price at the same time. So, without even engaging in a conversation about money, your consultants are helping customers feel good about the value. And when customers feel good about the value, they’re well on their way to the type of purchase they want to experience.
Say good-bye to price drops
When you make the Car the Star, you’ll be able to keep price drops to a minimum. Why? Because you’ve taken steps to infuse confidence and trust in customers. You’ve given them information they want to know. And you’ve proven that the vehicle is a smart buy. Dealers who lead with quality and value find that the drop between asking price and selling price is much smaller. For some, it’s as low as two hundred dollars. This is well below the industry average price drop, which is between $500 and $1000.
The journey ahead for dealers: three takeaways
When something’s not working, it’s time to change course. Here are three practical action steps you can take. 1. Inspire your team to see the car buying process from your customer’s point of view. How can they make their “Path to the Purchase” easier, and even enjoyable? 2. Build confidence with customers by turning your sales consultants into Just-In-Time experts who have the answers consumers are looking for. 3. Give customers the peace of mind and proof they’re making a wise investment by making the Car the Star.
Author: Patrick McMullen
Patrick McMullen is Senior Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at MAXDigital, which provides end-to-end technology solutions that enable dealerships to acquire, price, merchandise, and sell inventory with greater efficiency and profitability.