Be a Winner in Today’s Car-Buying Revolution

How dealers can take advantage of shifts in buying behavior to sell more cars

Wikipedia defines revolution (from the Latin word revolutio, which means “turn around”) as a fundamental change in political power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time when the population rises up in revolt against the current authorities.



Aristotle described two types of political revolution: The first being a complete change from one constitution to another, and the second being a modification of an existing constitution.

Wow. This may sound like a political science class, but the important thing to understand is this: There is a real revolution going on in our industry now in the form of how consumers buy vehicles.

Just what is changing? People are still buying cars, but they’re buying cars differently. It’s no secret that today’s consumers spend more time online researching their next vehicle purchase.

Various OEMs and dealer groups are now transforming their sales processes to meet the desires of consumers, who are spending more time online and want to move some (or all) of the transaction online too. You can be assured that every OEM and large dealer group has some kind of task force looking to change the sales transaction process to bring more of that process online.

On top of all of this, we have start-ups aiming to take a bite out of the used-car market, such as Beepi, Vroom, and Carvana (to name a few), as well as Roadster, Drive Motors, and others who are trying to take the new-car buying process entirely online.

Even with this revolution, however, the majority of consumers still want to test drive a vehicle and take final delivery at the dealership. So how does this impact individual dealerships, and what can dealers do to take advantage of this shift in buying behaviors to sell more cars?

Amidst this digital revolution, there are two very important dealership goals you need to consider:

  1. Get consumers to visit your dealership website. You need to own consideration before you can move consumers down the transaction funnel. Be sure to utilize search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, as well as vertical advertising, social media, referrals, dealer review sites, and other programs to get consumers to your site.
  2. Most importantly—this this is where the digital revolution comes into play—you need to keep consumers from leaving your website to do more research at another dealership or another brand.

To meet these goals, it is critically important to have a clean, easy-to-navigate website with tools that help consumers move down the transaction funnel quickly and efficiently. This will help guide them to their final purchase decision.

Provide tools that enable consumers to:

  • Research by payment
  • Get credit approval (hard or soft), and fill out a finance application
  • See all of your inventory, with specials and incentives clearly identified
  • Review your F&I products or see the benefits of certified pre-owned (CPO) versus new or used
  • Get a firm or estimated trade-in price
  • Help them understand the benefits of buying versus leasing

After you’ve provided these tools, make sure you have text, chat, or—better still—engagement tools that feature audio, video, and co-browsing to turn your website into a virtual showroom that moves you closer to a sale.

Finally, does all of the work you’ve done on your website transfer seamlessly into customers’ dealership visit? Remember, the dealership visit is just one step in a multistep process. It should never restart the process all over again.

The bottom line is this: Get consumers to visit your website, and then get them to visit your dealership without feeling the need to continue their car-buying research.

Although no revolution happens overnight, by historical definition, revolutions do happen in a relatively short period of time. Being a true leader—and a pioneer—means being on the winning side of this new revolution.

Rich Shugg is senior director of strategic accounts for Autobytel, offering the industry a full suite of high-quality lead products and advertising services. Book an appointment with Autobytel to view a 10-minute demo at the 2017 NADA Convention & Exposition and walk away with a valuable gift. Book your appointment today at dealer.autobytel.com/nada2017.

Rich Shugg

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