What the statistics tell you about auto buyers
Here are a couple statistics that all auto dealerships should know:
- The average auto buyer walks into only 1.4 showrooms before purchasing (DMEa's 2014 survey, April 2014).
- 62% of auto buyers say that customer service at the dealership influences their next purchase (Google's statistics, November 2013).
- 52% also say that ongoing dealer interactions after the purchase and throughout ownership also affects their next purchase (Google's statistics, November 2013).
The first takeaway from these statistics is that, buyers entering auto showrooms today are in the final stages of their purchasing journey. They most likely already have a car manufacturer and model in mind before walking onto the lot.
The second thing we learned from these statistics is that, how a dealership manages onsite and phone-based communication with their customers plays a significant role in closing the deal and establishing brand loyalty.
So, if you want to secure the first and future purchases of a new prospect, the keys are to get the prospect into your showroom and keep them engaged while they are there.
How to capture modern auto buyers
Make the first in-store experience the most engaging
Don’t Distract the Buyer
Once you see a new customers walking in, don’t let the little things damage their experience. For example, paging people on the overhead speaker distracts every prospective buyer in the showroom and on the lot, interrupts conversations and breaks engagement.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Many large retail chains have a better way to handle in-store announcements, and are now using: “silent store” solutions, which we also recommended for auto dealerships. The simplest solution is to use a mobile app to centralize instant messaging across every employee in the dealership. This turns a blaring overhead page into a silent instant message that vibrates in your rep’s pocket (and only that rep). Now, your buyers aren’t distracted and can stay focused on the sales process.
Another common distraction is your buyers' smartphones, which they are using to check prices online, search for opinions on your dealership, look for social media comments and ask their friends. To combat this, your salespeople should engage the buyer immediately to minimize any other input on the sale.
Don’t Leave the Buyer
It seems obvious that the salesperson should stick to their buyer like glue once they walk in the door. But unfortunately, there are many reasons for salespeople to leave the buyer’s side: to talk with F&I, to check the inventory, or to get a sales manager’s approval on a request. The trick is to get your answer without having to leave the buyer.
Consider a simple mobile app with instant messaging ability (like Vertical’s Viewpoint Mobile) that can be customized to easily reach everyone in your dealership. Something as simple as this can enable your sales rep to get the extra information or approvals needed to keep the negotiation moving along while never leaving the customer’s side.
Invite Your Manager
The next step to convert showroom visits into closed sales is to get the sales manager involved. Bringing the sales manager into the negotiation has been shown to result in a 38% close ratio for walk-ins. That’s more than a 2x improvement from the industry-standard 17% close ratio!
Think of yourself as a buyer walking in the showroom and talking to a salesperson. If you also “fortuitously” meet the sales manager, who is more experienced, the event will add a sense of importance to your visit. This impression helps build trust and moves the buyer closer towards making a purchasing decision faster.
When the salesperson identifies that the right moment is at-hand (whether the deal is moving forward or starting to stall), he can invite the sales manager to join via instant message. At the same time, it pushes the deal onward by upping the stakes. Try this tactic and see how well your closing ratio improves.
Leverage customer communication for customer loyalty
Eliminate friction in customer communication
Just as you dislike a long line at the grocery checkout, auto buyers dislike waiting on hold when they call in. Long hold times, call transfer times and outdated answering systems are bad experiences that can lead to call abandonment.
So, how can you make sure customer calls are answered even when your sales and service personnel are not at their desks? Integrate their mobile phones into your existing phone system. This way customer and prospect calls can be routed quickly and easily to the right person (not to mention recorded, logged, included in call reports, etc.). The point is to make sure every customer feels like there is an experienced person waiting at their desk to give them the answers they need.
Make sure the call handlers have all the information
When prospects/buyers call into your dealership the first time, they might not expect you to know who they are. But if they call in a few times and you still don’t know who they are, they may get annoyed (not the impression you want your new prospect to have). You need to ensure that all interactions with your buyer are smooth and easy with touches of personalization gleaned from previous interactions.
All your call handlers should have access to real-time call, sales and service history for every person who calls or walks into your dealership. This will allow them to create more personalized experiences for your customers. Consider a phone system that integrates with your existing CRM to help your people track, store and provide the right data when necessary.
Vertical’s Wave IP Communications Platform and Auto Dealer Suite can integrate with a number of CRMs including ELEAD1ONE, DealerSocket, SalesForce, NetSuite and Microsoft DynamicsSalesForce. This ensures a customer-centric conversation every time.
To sum up
Because of new technologies and ever-changing buyer behavior, auto dealers must optimize both in-store and phone-based communications to ensure a smooth, uninterrupted experience for their customers.
Vertical’s Wave IP Communications Platform and Auto Dealer Suite has all the features and functionality needed for you to get prospective new customers into your dealership and ensure they are taken care of when they are there.