Responsive selling. It's a phrase currently being debated and examined in great detail, mainly because it suggests that the traditional fixed and stepped approach to auto sales is no longer effective -- and in fact is losing relevance. With the evolution toward an online to in-store workflow, the reality on car lots across America is that customers –- especially Millennials –- are increasingly frustrated when they’re asked to re-do things they’ve already accomplished on a website. They want a nimble, flexible approach, and that introduces a critical shift that touches more than buying habits: it impacts how cars are sold, employee retention and training, CSI scores, and much more.
That’s the reality of today. The question is whether your workflows can be as responsive as your sales approach needs to be.
In addition to examining sales scripts, dealership managers should be scrutinizing sales and ops systems to make sure they’re optimized for efficiency, accuracy and volume. They should test how convenient the process is to actually purchase a car –- from website to showroom -– in order to discover where the hand-off of information breaks down. For example, last year’s J.D. Power and Associate’s U.S. Dealer Financing Satisfaction Study found that the speed of funding has become a critical differentiator, one answered at least in part by the use of electronic contracting solutions that cut the process time to hours and eliminated errors.
Managers should also be thinking about how to leverage all that work consumers do online in order to reduce the amount of time it takes to complete the sale. That’s of massive importance to customers. According to last year’s AutoTrader Sourcing Study, customer satisfaction is highest within the first 90 minutes at the dealership and declines from there on out. So the longer the sale takes, the faster your CSI score is likely to plummet. It’s not just time, however, but also the way the process is presented and the relationship that comes from it.
The Styrofoam Cup Test
Think of the old way like a Styrofoam cup of old and cold coffee, straight from a vending machine: it's bitter, and pretty hard to take. The new way is more like a fresh latte: tablets and interactive presentations that not only get to the sale but also build trust between salesperson and customer. In fact, again according to JD Power and Associates, dealerships that use in-store tablets to create a friendly and inclusive environment score 54 percent better on SSI than those that don’t use the technology.
Statistics like these summarize a simple overall truth: Consumers are eager to have more of an authentic relationship with dealers, earlier in the deal making process (online), and to be able to extend that into the store without starting from scratch. That starts with optimizing the online to showroom experience into a fully connected, seamless and flexible process, one that kicks off online and continues the conversation as a nimble – and yes, responsive – next chapter to the sale.