Lately it seems there are plenty of emerging technologies and services to help dealers sell more cars. And if you’ve seen my presentations at industry conferences or if you’ve read some of my previous articles, you know I’m a huge proponent of technologies such as texting, next generation video chat with co-browsing, and the latest in advertising programs designed to drive consumers direct to dealer websites.
The bottom line? This is a great time for the auto industry, and for dealers looking to capitalize on technologies to drive leads and grow sales from their own websites.
But no matter how a customer reaches you – through your desktop site, your mobile site, your virtual showroom, by way of text, or through highly targeted ads – process has always been…and will always be…the single most important factor when it comes to closing the sale.
There are a lot of dealers out there who have nailed process, but there are others who haven’t. It’s discouraging for me to see missed sales opportunities when all it takes is some fine tuning for dealers to realize a dramatic and positive impact on their businesses.
The top three process tips listed below are what I believe to be the most critical for dealers to follow, to open up new windows of sales opportunities and to improve overall customer service.
- Get to know your Internet customers as if they were on your lot by asking the right questions such as who will be driving the car, what the car will be used for, and what features the primary driver finds most important. Then, offer alternative new car options and, when possible, pre-owned options to engage customers.
- When responding to a lead, reply quickly and be sure to answer the customer’s questions clearly and concisely. Provide a range of pricing (based on equipment options) for the make and model the customer is interested in purchasing. Offer alternative makes and models, and pre-owned inventory, to keep the process moving forward.
- Be sure to follow up after the initial inquiry – and change the subject of the conversation. Start by determining where the customer is in the car buying process. Offer different options, such as pre-owned vehicles that were received on trade the prior weekend, to reignite interest in your brand, your store, and your inventory. Offering pre-owned alternatives is a great way to re-engage with customers.
And when it comes to implementing new and emerging technologies to help you sell more cars, consider the following:
- Take advantage of unique pay-per-click advertising technology that engages consumers at automotive websites with highly relevant offers based on the make and model they’re researching, and their geographical location – and then drive those consumers direct to your website to whichever page you choose. Additional low-funnel in-market consumer traffic to your website each month means increased sales opportunities for you.
- Once you get consumers to your website, nothing engages them better than next generation video chat with co-browsing which turns your website into a virtual showroom. This technology enables you to see exactly what customers are doing on your website as they navigate from car to car, from page to page, and from section to section in real time. It also enables you to communicate one-on-one, in real time with your customers, in the manner they prefer (chat, audio or video) while they are on your website, to help guide them through the sales process and your inventory much like you would if they were in your showroom.
- Texting is the preferred method of communication among today’s car buyers, so implement a texting platform at your dealership – one that assists with legal compliance. Prominently display ‘Text Us’ buttons on your home page, your ‘Contact Us’ page, your lead form, your vehicle search results pages, and your vehicle description pages. You can also text-enable your existing landline phone numbers, such as toll free numbers, special vanity numbers, service numbers and call tracking numbers.
Sure, technology is great, and there are plenty of exciting products out there that help drive leads and increase sales. But if your process is poor, there isn’t a technology in the world that will help you close the deal...or keep your customers coming back.
Scott Pechstein is VP of National Sales for Autobytel Inc., offering the industry a full suite of high quality lead products and marketing services, including Autobytel Direct pay-per-click advertising, TextShield, SaleMove, and Payment Pro. For more information, text or call (949) 278-8618 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more dealer training, tips, advice, and news, visit dealer.autobytel.com.