The summer selling season is here and so, too, is the pressure to hit sales goals and capture as much margin as is possible in this changing automotive marketplace. During crunch time, it’s natural to seek the comfort and familiarity of the way business used to be done. That could look like emphasizing print, displaying only MSRPs on vehicle details pages, reverting to the old “get ‘em into the dealership” sales mentality, or the urge to load first pencils up with a few grand in product.
Unfortunately, many of these outdated tactics will probably cause you more stress and pressure in the long run. To combat this, look to the future of digital marketing as you finalize your summer sales strategy by considering these three steps – part of a larger digital retailing strategy – to start moving inventory off your lot in the coming weeks.
1. Confirm that your team is working deals, not leads.
Ask your internet manager to see what deal information potential car buyers have pushed across your dealership’s virtual desk using Digital Retailing in the last week. Can you see customers’ trade details, desired payment terms, and the status of finance applications? You’ll need to determine how deep customers dove into the digital buying process to have an effective sales conversation with them.
Do you think customers using Digital Retailing might be hearing, reading or getting any sense of, “When can you come in?” undertones from your dealership – the kind used in traditional form leads? Hopefully not. Customers have given you their personal information and by engaging with Digital Retailing tools are expecting a more efficient car-buying process. Language that confirms the work they have done online and positions your in-store experience as fast and convenient will resonate with these customers and set your communications apart from any of the other email and phone follow-ups that they’re receiving.
Do your managers review new Digital Retailing clients and opportunities daily? If a customer comes into the showroom, walks around your inventory, points to one that he or she likes, and then fills out a credit app, you and your team are going to work together to see what you can collectively do to sell that deal. The same teamwork applies to Digital Retailing. Your customers are walking through those exact steps in your virtual showroom, and it’s up to your whole team to work together to make deals happen.
2. Ensure that your entire sales team is using this powerful sales solution.
Digital Retailing is not a lead generator or a digital widget. People are shopping for cars just like they shop for almost anything else: by weaving digital and physical experiences together. Your sales team should approach selling with these experiences in mind.
Have your F&I manager and internet manager presented the power of Digital Retailing to your sales team? Make sure these parties are connected and can conceptualize the capability of Digital Retailing. Create in-store point of sale material that drives awareness of the time savings and convenience of Digital Retailing. Show customers that your dealership is working hard to satisfy and exceed today’s digital shopping expectations and is delivering a car-buying experience for the 21st century car shopper. Encourage your sales team to weave Digital Retailing into their follow-up conversations with unsold visitors and even traditional leads. If you’re starting to say, “But that will impact my conversion metrics,” remember that Digital Retailing is a sales solution, not a lead-generating tool. Let it help you sell cars.
3. Create a truly different experience for your clients, and then market it.
According to the Autotrader Car Buyer of the Future Study, the vast majority of people still prefer to buy their cars in-person. After all, there’s no online substitute for a walk-around the very vehicle a shopper will purchase. What’s interesting, however, is that 72 percent of all shoppers, regardless of generation, find online paperwork appealing.
Position your dealership’s customer experience as a better way to buy a car by illuminating Digital Retailing. On the digital front, market it on your website, and bridge the gap at the dealership with similar promotional material on display on the showroom floor. As your entire team gets more comfortable with the Digital Retailing process, aim toward a goal of reduced total time your customers spend in your showroom. You know your store and your team best, so that goal is yours alone. But if you can deliver on the promise of significantly reduced in-store time for your customers, you’ve gained a tremendous competitive advantage.
Summer is clearly a busy season at any car dealership. But with business-wide adoption of a digital retailing strategy, your dealership can increase sales efficiency, enable greater throughput, and position you and your staff as innovative, different, and, ultimately, preferable when it comes to choosing a dealership from which to buy a car.
Patrick Wyld is a Digital Retailing enterprise performance manager at Dealer.com