ResearchNov 24th, 2019

A Salesperson’s POV on Digital Retailing


The automotive industry’s shift into digital retailing is no longer a possibility, but a reality. With the accessibility of information and commerce tools on any device, car buyers have already started to expect an experience closer to that of shopping on Amazon, Apple, or even Walmart. In fact, a recent Cox study showed that 83% of car buyers want to do all or some of the purchase process online. The tools are out there and many of the dealerships that have already made the plunge are benefiting from new operational efficiencies and higher customer engagement.

At Roadster, we recently hosted a webinar with two industry sales veterans who use Roadster’s Omnichannel Commerce tools every day (and sometimes in the middle of the night, as we learned). Dustin Dutterer from Sun Automotive Group went from selling 15 cars on a good month to averaging 36. Gabriel Hale from Rallye BMW is on track to sell 400 cars by himself for the end of the year. Both were kind enough to share their first-hand accounts of how implementing new processes allowed them to work multiple deals at the same time and provide improved customer experiences, helping to nearly double their individual monthly sales.

Digital Retailing Brings a New Efficiency

With a digital-first process, the buyer and the salesperson can walk through more transparent pricing together, eliminating the time-consuming back-and-forth so many buyers have come to dread. We have found that those “let me check with my manager” moments, where buyers are left alone, are a clear point of dissatisfaction. In our study, the Roadster Time Study, we calculated that throughout the car buying process customers are left alone for an average of 2.5 hours. After the third time being left alone, satisfaction will likely have dropped as much as 30%.

Gabriel discussed how many customers now walk into an experience that’s clean and clear, which eliminates an hour or two of his usual needs analysis and presentation process. He added that because buyers now have the opportunity to hit the pause button in-store and later go online to continue where they left off, he’s able to save time as the sale moves forward remotely. The buyer has already sold themselves on the deal and he can work more on simply facilitating the experience. He has also found a surprising amount of deal-building happens around 2 a.m.

It’s about planting seeds

Omnichannel Commerce tools have allowed a different sales process to emerge. It’s one that feels more transparent to the buyer and builds loyalty. The salesperson and customer can look at the deal together to see how each add-on affects the price, how their monthly payments can go up or down, and the buyer is generally in control of their own process.

Dustin shared that even when the price is higher than a competitor’s, he is able to have a guided, transparent conversation with the customers that increases his credibility. They’re more likely to trust him and if he sends out 5 deals within 10 minutes of each other, usually 2-3 of them will close within a day’s time.

In developing a relationship with one salesperson throughout the process, the buyer [1] [2] is empowered to move their purchase along in the way that they are most comfortable. Gabriel or Dustin can email or text the deal to the customer at any stage and then support them remotely.

The data backs up a collaborative sales approach, as well. In our Customer Experience Study, we asked car buyers what they wanted most out of their experience. 39% of respondents wanted to deal with the same person from start to finish — beating out inventory selection and price transparency. When salespeople are able to act as facilitators and connect with their customers, it feels more transparent and grows investment in the process.

Leadership Drives Culture

Both Dustin and Gabriel agreed that their experience expanding into an Omnichannel approach would not have been the same without leadership that was eager to change with the times. Both described dealers who were hungry for better efficiency and unafraid to jump into the rising digital retailing tide.

At Sun Automotive Group, the sales team was provided with technology, high-quality inventory and a customer-first mindset. They started with just a few iPads but increased the showroom technology footprint as they found more car buyers using them. The ease of use meant they could also bring in staff from more diverse backgrounds. "One of our best guys was a bartender at Red Lobster," Dustin said, highlighting the importance of having people skills, not just sales experience.

The leaders at Rallye BMW built foundational skills and empowered their salespeople through frequent 1-on-1 training with the Roadster team. Gabriel shared that there was anxiety because of the newness of the system, but everyone quickly realized how simple the process was once they just dove in. For them, he said, “It’s a tool to get you to the next level.”

You can literally see the anxiety leave their bodies

Dustin consistently gets a few young, professional couples coming into his store each week. He explains the process, the tools and the transparent pricing, and he almost always witnesses a dramatic shift. “You can literally see the anxiety leave their bodies. They relax, they settle into their seats a little bit more...everything just changes when the anxiety leaves and they know they’re going to be treated fairly.”

A customer recently said to Gabriel, “There’s no way you can give me this deal, deliver the car, take in my trade and that’ll be that.” Four hours later they delivered the car to his home. “One of the easiest sales I’ve ever made,” Gabriel said, “It’s so flawless from start to finish. He sold himself on it. Easier than buying an iPhone or ordering something from Amazon.”

When you’re able to break personal sales records and remain excited to help the people walking through your door every day, you know you’re doing something right. Watch the full webinar with more insights, ideas and tactics here.

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