We live in an age where technology provides dealerships with an immense amount of data about what customers want — but only if they read their buying signals correctly.
Even though this data is available to the sales staff, salespeople don’t always know the best way to capitalize on it, missing key opportunities to improve the customer’s experience and close the deal.
So, how can dealers ensure their sales operation takes full advantage of the technology and data available to it?
It starts with understanding that technology is changing how dealers interact with customers. Random cold calls are obsolete when there is ample background information collected in your CRM to create a more timely and personalized conversation with customers.
Information such as customer sentiment, what cars customers have looked at online, what their budget is, what type of car they are looking for, etc., all can help create an intelligent interaction when reaching out to or responding to the customer.
The most successful dealers are indeed the proactive ones. For dealerships that use their CRMs religiously and enforce the process, all customer data that is needed to be successful is available in the tool. When dealers are armed with data from the CRM, customers’ three key buying signals are easier to pick up on.
The first buying signal is positive equity standing. If a customer has positive equity and has been making payments on the same vehicle for several years, there could be an opportunity to get them in a new car without increasing payments. It’s the dealer’s job to let customers know if they are in positive equity because they may not realize it themselves.
Alerting customers to their positive equity could help create desire for a new vehicle, and where there is desire, there could be a deal.
Rebates and incentives change every day, so a customer’s equity may be changing daily too.
Dealers should be proactive and use the CRM to alert customers when their equity becomes positive, and then convey how it can correspond to new deals and offers.
The second buying signal is service activity. Maybe a customer’s old car is due for an expensive repair, or a customer keeps repairing the same part in a car. Or maybe the customer simply has had the same car for a long time.
A variety of service lane behaviors can indicate a customer might be ready for a new vehicle. If a dealership’s CRM is connected to the service side of the business, dealers can read service signals right off the CRM on the service appointment dashboard.
Access to service activity data allows dealers to proactively reach out to customers with special offers, or meet them in the service drive for a conversation to gauge their appetite for a new car.
All of these interactions, whether the customer moves forward or not, must be recorded back into the CRM to inform the next exchange.
The final — and maybe the most obvious — buying signal is website behavior. Dealerships can and should record all online data so that they know what each customer is looking for based on their online activity. Some CRMs have a web behavior–tracking tool, which can help dealers easily see what customers are searching for on their website.
With information on website browsing history in hand, salespeople can gain unique insights, allowing the dealership to present the most relevant vehicles and features consumers are already interested in.
Dealers need to be cautious with this data, however, and look for repeat behavior across multiple visits instead of contacting someone who has only looked at one car on the website. In this increasingly competitive environment, proactivity will get dealers ahead.
Having the right tools to help dealers turn data into insights and technology will enable them to read the signs that customers are ready to buy. Once dealerships can read the signals correctly, it will help them close more deals and increase their bottom line.
Mo Zahabi is the senior director of sales and product consulting at VinSolutions, a Cox Automotive brand that seamlessly integrates systems and tools to deliver a single view of the customer across a dealership, so dealers can maintain relationships and make more repeat sales.
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