A recurring theme we have seen all year long is the speed of change in buyer behavior. Almost everyone now does their research online and spends upwards of 11 hours on the activity. Customers visit fewer dealerships in person than ever - their short list is very short! The high quality shopping tools available online mean that a shopper can research, match vehicle features to their needs, review prices, and obtain finance options.
More than a third are now doing this shopping on mobile devices. They can make a pretty well-informed selection before they first contact a dealership.
It used to be that this was more difficult and required a skilled sales consultant interviewing to understand their needs and selecting the best vehicle to match these needs. Now they come to us with a selection and our role is consultative to verify that it is the best match to their needs - the order of things is reversed.
They still need our professional help to feel confident enough in their selection to buy. They still can't touch, feel and drive the car online. And they don't know of other inventory choices you have that may offer a better match to their needs or offer better value.
With these dramatic and ongoing changes to shopping behavior we would expect that sales teams would be adapting and "meeting the customer where they are" in their buying process. Unfortunately we have seen far too many dealership sales teams this year struggle because they have been slower to adjust their sales process than customers have their buying process.
Does your team have any of these nasty ghosts from Christmas past?
• Withholding information so they have to come in - then trying to switch them off their selection
• Ignoring the time and effort they have invested in researching their selection
• Trying to force them into your sales process regardless of where they are in their decision-making
• Picking up the phone unprepared for a caller who is looking at your online inventory
• Reacting slowly to internet leads and then failing to add value or personalize our response
• Giving trade value ball park estimates or low-ball pricing to get them in
• Assuming they know nothing
• Assuming they know everything
• Assuming the man makes the decisions
• Waiting for traffic instead of creating it
We all have seen an evolution to lower floor traffic, more highly informed customers, and greater demands on our knowledge and professionalism.
These ghosts of Christmas past just don't fly in today's environment.
Give yourself a gift of higher performance by retiring them before the New Year.