By Mo Zahabi, Director of Product Consulting at VinSolutions
“How can I sell to the modern customer?” It’s one of the most common questions dealers ask me. And here’s my answer: There isn’t one modern customer. In fact, if today’s customers have one thing in common, it’s that no two are alike. However, they do share one thing — they each expect a personalized buying experience that meets their unique needs. A one-size-fits-all sales strategy was never a great idea, but today it’s officially a bad one.
Today’s advanced technology — a modern CRM with a segmented database, for example — can help you personalize the buying experience. But tech doesn’t know or think about customers the way you can. You need to start with a full understanding of who your buyers are and how they want to be sold to, then implement your tech solutions accordingly. Otherwise, it’s technology for technology’s sake, which nobody wants.
So, let’s get personal. What makes modern customers so modern, and what do you need to know about how they like to buy?
1. They know what they want
These days, most of the car-buying process happens before customers visit your lot. Customers spend 14+ hours researching vehicles online, which is why 52 percent only test-drive one vehicle before buying. They know what they want — and they don’t want you to change their mind.
If you’re used to controlling the sale, I know this can be frustrating. But to win these customers over, you need a different tactic. Because they’ve done so much research, transparency is essential. They know what offers and features are available, so if you get it wrong, they’ll know. Prove you’re committed to meeting the customer’s needs, and let them run the show. They’ll lead you to the revenue you want.
2. They want to buy on their terms
Today’s customers visit only one or two dealerships in person before they buy — so if they’re on your lot, they’re not there to browse. But if you think you can rush into closing the deal, think again. Customers expect the process to happen on their timeline. If you push too hard to speed things up, you can say goodbye to the sale.
So resist the urge to rush customers, even if it feels like the process is dragging. Instead, perform a needs analysis to make sure you understand what’s keeping them from committing, and restate their concerns to show you get it. If you take your time and treat them with respect, they’ll be happy to move things along.
3. They get personal with technology
Thanks to social media and online review sites, your customers can have a role in whatever interests them. They can comment on, question and influence everything, and they expect the same of the car ownership experience. If you’re not giving them an opportunity to engage with you, you’re doing them and your bottom line a disservice.
So take advantage of your customers’ favorite tools: blogs, social media, text messaging, tablets… the options are endless. And if you interact with customers regularly through these platforms, you’ll show them you’re an engaged member of the automotive community — the kind they can’t wait to do business with.
Today’s customers have unique expectations. But if you shift your sales strategy, you can meet all of them and close more with modern buyers.