Proactive Customer Strategies That Redefine How to Sell

Two recent auto industry reports offer valuable insight into evolving dealer-consumer dynamics. These reports, created from research by the consulting companies Capgemini and McKinsey & Co., can help dealers prepare for this relational change. In the reports, Capgemini and McKinsey suggest that dealers must embrace this change to remain successful.

The Internet, mobile, and other information within marketing channels continue to reshape how consumers engage with dealerships. For instance, McKinsey reported that “80% of new-car and almost 100% of used-car customers now begin their journey online.”

The research shows that modern consumers prefer to visit a physical dealership only at the end of their buy cycle. Thus, a redefined “meet and greet” may simply point them to the vehicle they want to touch, sit in, and test drive. With consumers now asking for an upgraded customer experience, McKinsey reported, “Advanced dealer networks are already starting on this transformational journey.”

One illustration of this comes from AutoNation. Its newly launched digital storefront, SmartChoice Express, moves its dealers’ websites from informational to transactional. Another redefining strategy is to use data mining to engage customers proactively to sell more vehicles. McKinsey’s report implied that data management like this can yield “faster and better customer insights” for improving customer experiences.

Stimulating existing customers’ earlier re-entry into the car-buying market is analogous to a blitz defense in football. The right data mining model at the right time creates unique sales opportunities. It does this by identifying existing customers whose current vehicle situations place them in position to want to buy again now if the dealer can get them a new payment near their old one.

Using a proactive data mining strategy is a decidedly different way for dealers to interact with consumers who want a unique dealership experience. In addition, it is also a practical and highly effective way to improve inventory turn and generate quality trades that retail at high gross.

Engagement like this wins customers—potentially as much as 20% additional monthly vehicle sales—because it solves real problems for consumers who might otherwise have no other financially realistic option. It makes a dealership more competitive and it helps improve retention. How can that not be a transformational way to relate to customers that changes everything?

Brian Skutta is CEO of AutoAlert, Inc., North America’s premier data mining, lead generation and sales opportunity provider. Skutta brings to AutoAlert more than a decade of leadership in helping auto dealerships sell more vehicles and retain more customers. He has a proven history of successfully managing innovation and growth, most recently at VinSolutions and’s Trade-In Marketplace. Reach him at or visit

Brian Skutta

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