The military adage “the best defense is a good offense” applies to selling cars, as well. If you keep moving forward, attracting new customers and advancing those customers down the path to purchase, your competitors are eliminated from consideration. Exactly what are the necessary ingredients to successfully reach and engage with consumers though? What do you need to do to drive customers to your Website and to your store — and ensure they stay loyal to you?
Here are just a few tips for a solid offense strategy to help you infiltrate the competition while protecting your own backyard in the process.
Offense Tactic No. 1: Be where competitive consumers are.
With ever-increasing digital ad costs and fierce competition for eyeballs and traffic, dealers are turning to alternative traffic sources with proven track records of delivering low-funnel, high-converting traffic. If you want to reach a much broader audience of in-market automotive traffic, you need to reach people at the precise place and time when they are researching their next vehicle purchase, and pay only when a customer visits your Website.
Offense Tactic No. 2: Drive traffic to the right pages of your Website.
If a consumer is in the used car market, drop them into a Vehicle Search Results (VSR) page versus a Vehicle Details Page (VDP) to give them more options with a broader range of models. If they are coming from a competitive brand, consider directing them to your “specials” page or, better yet, a product comparison page. Advertising that is inflexible when it comes to destination URLs pigeonholes customers, ultimately resulting in a less-than-stellar experience.
Offense Tactic No. 3: Make your Website sticky with the right tools and information.
Your Website needs to be both informative and uncluttered, complete with clear call-to-action buttons or links. Showcase your inventory in the best light, be sure your specials and incentives are clearly defined and provide helpful information such as the benefits of buying CPO or the differences between buying versus leasing. Enable your customers to review your F&I products and get an estimated or firm trade-in price. Tools such as shop-by-payment calculators, texting capabilities and audio/video/co-browsing features are great for converting Website visitors into showroom visitors. If consumers get all the information they need from you, there is less reason for them to go to another dealership’s Website.
Offense Tactic No. 4: Shift your process from one of sales to one of buying.
I recommend shifting your sales process by shifting your mindset first — from “I am a dealer who wants to sell you something,” to “You are a customer and I want you to buy from me.”
How do you do this? First, it’s important to understand the steps of the traditional process along with modifications to that process.
1. Here are the reasons why you should buy from me.
Advice: Add the line “and buying from me includes why you should buy my brand from my dealership!”
Today’s traditional sales funnel in which consumers narrow their options until they make a purchase decision has changed. It is now a dynamic process where consumers add brands — or eliminate brands — as they research, which means you can’t get a consumer to buy from you until he is convinced he should buy your brand in the first place.
2. Here is the price of the vehicle you are interested in buying.
Advice: Be transparent by giving them a fair price.
3. Here are a couple of other optional vehicles you might want to consider buying.
Advice: Always offer lower-priced options and don’t assume all new car intenders will only buy new and all used car intenders will only buy used.
What’s more, many consumers start new but end up buying used (our data shows that this happens nearly 50 percent of the time). And with the prediction that used car prices are dropping, it’s important to expose every customer to your entire used car inventory.
To provide a high-level recap, the new buying process looks like this.
1. Here are the reasons why you should buy my brand.
2. Here are the reasons why you should buy from me.
3. Here is the price of the vehicle you are interested in buying.
4. Here are a couple of other optional vehicles you might want to consider buying (always lower-priced options).
5. Here are comparable used car options (all brands) you might consider buying.
The bottom line is simply this: Your objective is to get consumers more interested in buying from you than you’re interested in selling to them.