How Dealers Can Capitalize on Pre-sales Amid Inventory Shortages
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Dealers: Capitalize on Pre-Sales Amid Inventory Shortages

By taking a proactive approach to identifying and engaging prospects, pre-sales have become a key way for dealers to meet customer demands and maximize their sales ROI.

Ian Grace is the director, partner performance at automotiveMastermind. Mastermind helps dealers generate success in their loyalty, service and conquest portfolios through a combination of turnkey predictive analytics, proactive marketing and dedicated consultative services. Learn more at

In the dealership world, all eyes are on  inventory shortages. Across the country, nearly every brand is experiencing new vehicle inventory shortages, challenging dealers to adapt amid increased consumer demand being further driven by buyer concerns over vehicle availability.   

While relief is on the horizon as production ramps up, new reports from IHS Markit forecast real recovery efforts to begin in early 2022. 

In the meantime, some dealers are leveraging pre-orders and pre-selling incoming deliveries, a strategy once reserved almost entirely for highly anticipated model releases or fulfilling a specific product or feature request, to keep up with consumer demand amid shortages. 

By taking a proactive approach to identifying and engaging prospects, pre-sales have become a key way for dealers to meet customer demands and maximize their sales ROI.

First, Seek Proactive Sales Opportunities

With constantly evolving supply chain challenges complicating OEM production schedules, some dealers will wait even longer than anticipated for new vehicle deliveries.   

To stay ahead of delays, dealers need to stay ahead of buyers. Start by leveraging marketing technology that integrates with data from your CRM and DMS to identify prospective buyers preparing to return to market, such as those approaching the end of their lease, finance term or warranty.  

By using these same insights to map potential buyers to in-bound vehicles marked for pre-sale, dealers are empowered to meet customers where they are in their buying journey.  With this personalized approach, customers will get the vehicle they actually want, when they need it, versus picking from limited inventory.  

Next, Focus on Convenience for Your Customers 

New retailing options at dealerships ushered in by the pandemic have led to significant improvements in the car-buying experience for customers — and new, higher expectations from buyers. As inventory shortages inherently inconvenience buyers, offering an exceptionally easy buying experience enables dealers to stand out from the competition.

When pre-selling vehicles or marketing pre-orders, it’s critical dealers offer convenience from the first customer touch point by reaching buyers with personalized messaging in the format and timeline they prefer.   

To make the pre-selling experience better for customers, consider convenience from their perspective. This means more than haggle-free pricing and keeping your inbound inventory online. It should come from your dealership’s internal culture while reflecting customer needs.

Interactions and processes that speak to customers’ concerns with pre-ordering will leave them feeling assured and, in turn, convert them into loyal service and sales customers. Gather and analyze common customer qualms from your sales and service teams to identify areas of improvement such as solutions to trade-ins, ordering and even F&I assistance for customers to raise their credit scores during their long wait. 

Finally, Deliver Consistent Messaging  

It’s critical to build trust with customers through the pre-selling process, starting with transparent messaging that offers buyers a sense of security from that first touch point.

Customers should find consistent and clear messaging from your dealership online and in-store. Brand-specific messaging on your dealership’s website focused on solving your customers’ problems is especially important when pre-selling new inventory. Consider creating an easy-to-access information center on your website related to the sales availability of inbound units or allowing your customers to place specific orders while they wait.  

Finally, ensure your customer experience is consistent across your dealership at every step of the pre-sales process. When a customer calls, your BDC and sales teams need to know each vehicle’s estimated timeline, including what is currently available for pre-sale. Consider creating guides for your team detailing the pre-selling process and answering commonly asked questions.

While for most dealers, pre-sales may have been possible before the chip shortage, the practice has never been as critical as it is today. But to offer a convenient sales experience and meet buyer expectations amid inventory shortages, it’s critical dealers take a data-driven approach to staying a step ahead. 

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