There’s no denying the power of digital platforms in car sales.
According to recent research, 80% of drivers looking to purchase a new vehicle used some form of digital technology during the research process, and 75% of car shoppers would even consider completing the entire car-buying process online if given the chance. This includes common automotive needs like financing, paperwork, price negotiation, and delivery.
Not only are car buyers turning to digital solutions to make purchases, but many are conducting their initial research online as well. Of drivers looking to purchase a new vehicle, 62% initiate the car-buying process online. Many are even leveraging social media channels as a preemptive form of research.
What this means for dealers is that now is the time to better align all internal (onsite) and digital sales efforts. In 2015, a record-breaking 17.5 million vehicles were sold in the U.S., with Americans spending $570 billion on new cars alone.
Based on these percentages, 14 million U.S. car buyers completed purchasing decisions informed by digital research, and $350 billion of those annual sales came from vehicle purchases that began online. These margins are too great for dealers to pass up.
Dealers that don’t embrace the digital revolution or keep up with consumers’ purchasing behaviors and trends risk alienating buyers and losing long-term customer trust.
The following are three tips to align your dealership’s internal and digital sales efforts.
1. Improve ad copy
Disagreement between digital marketing and onsite sales information is a surefire way to upset shoppers. For example, if a shopper sees an advertisement on Facebook for her favorite car with the right deal and is inspired to head to the lot for purchase, she will be incredibly disappointed if she finds out that specific make and model is no longer available.
This can also pose an issue for time-sensitive deals, or offerings that are based upon specific qualifications. For instance, many dealers offer holiday sales or low-rate financing offerings, but these promotions depend on time frames, location, or other variables. If this information is not clearly communicated online, car buyers will suffer from a disjointed online and in-store experience.
Clear and consistent ad copy is the best way to avoid this error. Online advertisements, no matter what type or where they appear, must be up to date, easy to read, and support the inventory and offerings that can actually be found at the dealership.
2. Keep dealership teams up to date
According to 2016 Pew Research data, nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans own a smartphone. The widespread use of smartphones allows car buyers to conduct digital research from anywhere, at any time, even while on the lot. This means that shoppers can double-check facts about makes, models, or promotions, which has the potential to contradict information from sales representatives.
On-site sales representatives should be working with existing digital advertisements, not against them. For instance, if a dealer is allocating digital ad spend to promote Chevrolets, sales teams should be encouraging the same when interacting with shoppers onsite.
To keep sales teams in the loop, it is key to provide frequent training sessions, and update employees on what’s happening in the digital world. Likewise, sales representatives should have full knowledge of supporting sales opportunities like add-ons, gross margins. and financing options.
3. Stay on top of market conditions
Among many other factors, market conditions can greatly influence consumers’ car-purchasing habits. For example, economic shifts can alter what shoppers are willing to spend on a new car, or high gas prices can impact the type of vehicle consumers want to purchase.
By staying on top of market conditions, sales representatives on the floor can make more focused suggestions to meet consumers’ needs. Often, these trends can be followed online—through search behavior or what demographics are known about a shopper—and then applied in-store.
Here again, the combined power of internal and digital sales efforts creates a stronger, seamless shopping experience that customers trust and enjoy.
Although more car buyers are researching and starting searches online, many are still coming to the physical lot for additional research and final purchases. Until that changes, dealers must align their internal and digital sales efforts and generate a cohesive sales experience that is fueled by consistent information and competent employees.
Jeremy Anspach is the CEO of PureCars, a digital advertising platform designed exclusively for the automotive industry. Armed with the industry’s most extensive data library, Jeremy founded PureCars in 2007. A Detroit native and renowned industry speaker, his drive and passion has led PureCars to become one of only seven automotive Google Premier SMB Partners, powering digital for over 3,000 dealers across the country.
Latest posts by Jeremy Anspach
- Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Make You Your Own Worst Enemy? - March 1, 2017
- The Digital Dealership: Are You Ready? - January 17, 2017
- 3 Ways to Align Your Internal and Digital Sales Strategies - December 27, 2016