The right marketing program drives buyers to your store, and the right technology solutions help your sales team close deals.
As 2018 is winding down, you might be reflecting on this past year and looking to either build on your success or revamp your strategy for 2019. Wherever you find your dealership at the end of this year, there are some best practices you can leverage for your marketing efforts to drive sales through relationship building and customized experiences. By combining the art of selling cars (the what to do) versus the science of selling cars (the how to do it), you will easily find the recipe for your success.
The Art: Building Customer Loyalty
We’ve written previously about how important human interaction is at each step of the sales process and that data should be used to supplement the entire customer journey. As a dealer, it’s important to communicate with buyers on their terms. If a potential customer emails you, provide them with a personal email as soon as possible; if they text you, text them back; if they call you, call them back. When returning inquiries, make sure you are providing the exact information the customer asked for, so they have everything they need to take the next step in their decision-making process.
Once you’ve provided the buyer with the information they’re looking for, lock in an appointment for them to test drive a vehicle (or three!).
By building loyalty, through a foundation built on a solid relationship, you’ll be able to retain the customer for life.
The Science: How to Sell More Cars
There are several services out on the market today that claim you can buy a car like a candy bar out of vending machine, but there’s a science to leveraging information about a customer to help personalize even that experience.
Successful dealers leverage the information they already have about a customer, whether it’s through an OEM or CRM tool, or another third-party application. This information can range from customer preferences regarding make, model, features, and leasing versus buying, in addition to car accident history, credit scores, banking information, and more. When researching is done right, all of this information is used to offer a personalized deal to each customer.
Know Your Audience
Cox Automotive, through their annual Car Buyer Journey Survey reports most car buyers are undecided at the start of the shopping process, and many will repeat previous decisions. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), the sale funnel is approximately six months, with the most activity taking place 90 – 100 days before purchase intent. If you aren’t talking to a customer before that, you might be too late. They’ve already made up their mind and researched their trade-in value. If you reach out to a potential buyer six to 18 months before they are thinking of buying, you’ll help establish yourself as a key component to their sales cycle.
Use all the tools at your disposal to understand clients. Look at their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and what you can find about them on Google. Understand how their life has changed to help create a 360-degree view. By finding out all you can, you’ll have a jump start on what their motivating buying triggers are and can make outreach using those drivers. (For example, is the customer’s daughter going off to college? Perhaps you focus on safety features within your initial outreach.)
According to PwC’s recent customer experience survey, when customers feel appreciated, they are more likely to recommend or endorse a brand on social media, subscribe to a newsletter, or sign up for promotions and make repeat purchases. Furthermore, customers say they are more likely to try additional services or products from brands that provide superior customer experience, fueling your customer retention program.
The Right Marketing
Get up close and personal with your customers – it’s what they’re looking for! Make sure your messages are personalized, timely and actionable. Dealer sites and search engines complement each other during the shopping process, and automotive marketers need to have a broad yet integrated marketing strategy. This includes a strong presence in the online inventory marketplace to effectively reach and influence shoppers wherever they are shopping online (Cox Automotive Buyer’s Journey, 2018).
Like we discussed above, be sure you’re present early in the ‘pre-shopping’ phase and be sure to include specific messaging that will drive action. Leverage marketing and advertising to build on your relationship.
Make sure the customer experience is the right customer experience. Have a knowledgeable sales team. Make sure talk tracks match marketing communications. And don’t forget about the service drive – offer a personalized offer there, too – why not?
Benefits of the Right Customer Experience
How Can automotiveMastermind Help?
Do you have any questions or comments about predictive analytics and how it’s changing automotive retail? Contact us today. Our vision is to radically transform the traditional consumer purchase journey.
Learn how to take this approach even further with a holistic market view in Part II of our Art or Science series.