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The Road to the Sale is DEAD

Sep 13, 2015
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First Name
Candice
Consumers have been doing much of their "shopping" process -- their research -- online for years. As dealer websites become more transactional (not necessarily fully transactional) consumers are, or soon will be, starting their "buying" process online. That it makes it imperative that the folks on the floor and in the tower recognize where the customer is in their buying process, quickly verify that, and seamlessly continue the process the customer started online.Starting off at square one from when the customer enters the showroom and following a strict prescribed sales process may actually be counterproductive.

I'm convinced that how seamlessly the transition from online to offline happens is going to be a big determining factor in dealerships' success in the very near future.
@EdBrooks- Love this quote "I'm convinced that how seamlessly the transition from online to offline happens is going to be a big determining factor in dealerships' success in the very near future".

@BHavican- Your process is still very linear. Why do an interview if the customer already knows what they want? What if the customer wants to go on a test drive by themselves or is not interested in test driving the car at all? I can tell you from personal experience I would not be comfortable with someone telling me to wait and have a drink while they go and pull up another car because they have a "great idea". All that would do is frustrate me. While I'm waiting I would probably observe other customers waiting to go into F&I or for their sales person to return from their "great idea". Now my blood is starting to boil. I a Mom of 4 and a small business owner. I don't have time and I certainly don't trust anyone in the dealership. I am going to assume the sales person has an ulterior motive for showing me their "great idea". Even if it might make sense I won't consider it because I don't trust the process and certainly don't trust the person who is making a commission off my large purchase.
 

Tallcool1

Sr. Refresher
Mar 17, 2014
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First Name
Clint
@EdBrooks- Love this quote "I'm convinced that how seamlessly the transition from online to offline happens is going to be a big determining factor in dealerships' success in the very near future".

@BHavican- Your process is still very linear. Why do an interview if the customer already knows what they want? What if the customer wants to go on a test drive by themselves or is not interested in test driving the car at all? I can tell you from personal experience I would not be comfortable with someone telling me to wait and have a drink while they go and pull up another car because they have a "great idea". All that would do is frustrate me. While I'm waiting I would probably observe other customers waiting to go into F&I or for their sales person to return from their "great idea". Now my blood is starting to boil. I a Mom of 4 and a small business owner. I don't have time and I certainly don't trust anyone in the dealership. I am going to assume the sales person has an ulterior motive for showing me their "great idea". Even if it might make sense I won't consider it because I don't trust the process and certainly don't trust the person who is making a commission off my large purchase.
For me, the reason for an interview is simple. Customers, nomatter how much research they have done, only know what they know. .....they do NOT know what we know. It is our job to make sure that customers learn the things that they don't know yet.
 

Alex Snyder

President Skroob
May 1, 2006
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1,466
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Alex
Also, the 1970-1990 road to the sale correlates to lower unit counts, pressure from the OEM, lower CSI, slower used turn, difficulty retaining new/younger sales people etc. It may not be dead but she's hanging on by a thread.
We all talk about the "road to a sale" but I sometimes wonder if we're defining it the same way. Here's a simplified version of the the one I was trained on and believe still exists today:

Meet & Greet
Sell Yourself
Sell the house
*Find a car
Demo the car
Do the paperwork
*Negotiations/Trade
Finalize the paperwork
Deliver the car



The road to a sale is simply a process; one that helps to guide through a very complex purchase. The argument around this process solely rests on the notion that dealers' response to online has been to develop an Internet department whose job is to grease the customer for going through the traditional process.

People need a linear process to follow. People need guidance. It doesn't have to be a gestapo process, but few people function well with ambiguity.

Where I think dealers are messing up is they believe they know how a customer thinks prior to coming into the dealership. It is hard to understand car buying when you yourself have not been a customer. Trust me, I had to move to Vermont and start working with dealerships where the paychecks weren't signed by a Snyder to realize this. I was so blind.
 
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Baron Ringler

Getting Refreshed
Jul 6, 2010
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Baron
One of the things I always hear is that the Internet has "changed the way we sell cars". No, what the Internet has done is change how quickly the process takes.

Anyone who has changed their selling processes to match a perceived shift in how vehicles are sold is admitting defeat and coughing up gross for the sake of pushing a unit. You can lose money to sell a car, pay a flat to a salesperson, pay a BDC rep, pay per customer to get them in to the store; all for a few small maintenance items and hopefully some heavy warranty work, and MAYBE a referral or repeat business. Maybe your manufacturer will send you a nice shiny plaque, but that's about all you get.

And you do it because that is what you believe needs to happen to sell cars to an online customer. So you teach your BDC reps to be weak (out the door numbers, payments, etc.), the salespeople are weak (looking to move a unit rather then making money and just not even bothering to switch vehicles; trim or Certified. And if they do, they go running to the BDC for the new giveaway price on that model), and their managers, who are supposed to be the experts that make money for the store, don't.

All because of a false impression.

Yes, you will always have customers who are 100% number oriented. You had them 20 years ago, you have them now.

But the sales steps that have been tried and true for decades still work, including online, if they are done right. Meet and Greet (be personable), qualify (is that car they asking about really the one they want?), test drive (features and benefits, "why buy" from our store, etc.), trial close, overcome objections, close.

Meet and greet - My name is <X> and thank you for working with <ABC MOTORS> My job is to help you.

Qualify - I see you asked about an base model, and we have a great stock, and we also have a trim level up and Certified used as well. (this is the biggest issue with online sales. People are more interested in taking the easy way out, just throwing numbers to the wind, then really grinding out the deal).

Test Drive (Features and Benefits) - Here is why the upgraded trim, or the Certified, or anything else. (If you get the customer confused as to what they want you are the only one that knows it. So while you are actually working the customers wants and needs the weak stores are pushing numbers. Most customers WILL recognize the level of Customer Service.

Trial close. - Let's see if we have done enough for the appointment. For every question we answered we needed to bring up two others. If you are the only person that knows those questions exists you have an advantage.

Overcome objections - take one-by-one every objection that you are given and overcome them using the right scripts and tracks. The "out the door" questions, which everyone thinks is so hard to deal with, is actually the EASIEST objection to overcome if you think on it a bit for a good track to overcome it.

Close - Get your appointment.

The sales steps have never changed: most of us have changed instead due to a false perception that it is necessary.

The greatest word of advice I've ever received concerning sales is this: when all else fails, the basics never will. And I have never seen that as being more true than right now.

Alex Snyder is dead on with the steps.
 

Mitch Gallant

Refresh Team
Apr 6, 2009
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Mitch
No, what the Internet has done is change how quickly the process takes.

Anyone who has changed their selling processes to match a perceived shift in how vehicles are sold ...

All because of a false impression.
Really? A false impression? The largest shift in consumer behavior to a point it's widely considered a revolution?

Consumers access and behaviors are different than they were 20 years ago. That numbers focused guy is coming in with an RPG not the slingshot he used to have. His personality and how we should adapt to him is the same. Great salesmanship is the same but the sales tactics need to be different.

I understand why people hold on. The fundamentals are alive and well but the approach, the tactics and the behaviors of our sales staff needs to be in line with what Ed put forward, easing that online to offline experience. Gotta get with the times, turn down the MC Hammer and turn up the Bruno Mars. (Or whatever those damn gen Yers listen to - they're the problem too, right?)
 

Chris Leslie

Sr. Refresher
Oct 28, 2012
401
268
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Chris K
Hey Baron, I'm curious as to how you adapted your approach.

Conversions like this always remind me of the cognitive bias called the Choice-Supportive Bias

In cognitive science, choice-supportive bias is the tendency to retroactively ascribe positive attributes to an option one has selected. It is a cognitive bias. For example, if a person chooses option A instead of option B, they are likely to ignore or downplay the faults of option A while amplifying those of option B. Conversely, they are also likely to notice and amplify the advantages of option A and not notice or de-emphasize those of option B.

There seems to be a lot of talk about how a certain way is the only way to do things with complete disregard for other possible options. Even at a time when new information is presented that might challenge ones previous beliefs.
 
Sep 13, 2015
5
6
3
First Name
Candice
One of the things I always hear is that the Internet has "changed the way we sell cars". No, what the Internet has done is change how quickly the process takes.

Anyone who has changed their selling processes to match a perceived shift in how vehicles are sold is admitting defeat and coughing up gross for the sake of pushing a unit. You can lose money to sell a car, pay a flat to a salesperson, pay a BDC rep, pay per customer to get them in to the store; all for a few small maintenance items and hopefully some heavy warranty work, and MAYBE a referral or repeat business. Maybe your manufacturer will send you a nice shiny plaque, but that's about all you get.

And you do it because that is what you believe needs to happen to sell cars to an online customer. So you teach your BDC reps to be weak (out the door numbers, payments, etc.), the salespeople are weak (looking to move a unit rather then making money and just not even bothering to switch vehicles; trim or Certified. And if they do, they go running to the BDC for the new giveaway price on that model), and their managers, who are supposed to be the experts that make money for the store, don't.

All because of a false impression.

Yes, you will always have customers who are 100% number oriented. You had them 20 years ago, you have them now.

But the sales steps that have been tried and true for decades still work, including online, if they are done right. Meet and Greet (be personable), qualify (is that car they asking about really the one they want?), test drive (features and benefits, "why buy" from our store, etc.), trial close, overcome objections, close.

Meet and greet - My name is <X> and thank you for working with <ABC MOTORS> My job is to help you.

Qualify - I see you asked about an base model, and we have a great stock, and we also have a trim level up and Certified used as well. (this is the biggest issue with online sales. People are more interested in taking the easy way out, just throwing numbers to the wind, then really grinding out the deal).

Test Drive (Features and Benefits) - Here is why the upgraded trim, or the Certified, or anything else. (If you get the customer confused as to what they want you are the only one that knows it. So while you are actually working the customers wants and needs the weak stores are pushing numbers. Most customers WILL recognize the level of Customer Service.

Trial close. - Let's see if we have done enough for the appointment. For every question we answered we needed to bring up two others. If you are the only person that knows those questions exists you have an advantage.

Overcome objections - take one-by-one every objection that you are given and overcome them using the right scripts and tracks. The "out the door" questions, which everyone thinks is so hard to deal with, is actually the EASIEST objection to overcome if you think on it a bit for a good track to overcome it.

Close - Get your appointment.

The sales steps have never changed: most of us have changed instead due to a false perception that it is necessary.

The greatest word of advice I've ever received concerning sales is this: when all else fails, the basics never will. And I have never seen that as being more true than right now.

Alex Snyder is dead on with the steps.

@Baron Ringler, be careful about stating what the customer wants. Here's my take on your process as a women and borderline Millennial.

1- During the meet and greet I already don't trust you. I'm anxious to make this large purchase and feel like I have to keep my guard up in order to not get taken advantage of. I've spent a month researching the car I want and know what I can afford. I also know what's important to me (keyless entry/sunroof) and what I could care less about (engine size/color combination).

2- Your "qualifying" is not for my benefit, its for yours. You may think I don't realize what you are trying to do but it couldn't be more obvious. Instead of building trust by actually listening to me, you ignore what I'm saying and immediately begin talking to me about other options. This is exactly what I have come to expect as a car buying consumer- being forced to consider something I don't want because it makes more money for the store and sales rep. At this point my concerns about this process have been validated. Not only is my guard up but now I'm irritated.

3- I especially hate the test drive. I don't want to listen to someone talk to me about trim levels and/or certifications. I want to experience the car. Alone. Your pressure filled conversation and constant need to ask questions is annoying. I can tell you are trying to set me up for something. I know within the first 60 seconds of sitting in the car whether I want to buy it or not. Your need to "validate" my experience is just turning me off to your process. At this point I need to make a decision- do I have the energy to push through and buy the car today or am I so annoyed by this person that I decide to start all over somewhere else.

4- Stop trying to slow down the process with questions and trial closing. If you are going to ask a question, actually LISTEN to my response and don't try to use it to your advantage. I would love it if someone asked me this question "Mrs. Crane, I can tell you are a very busy person, can we expedite this transaction for you and have you out the door within the next 30 minutes?" YES!!!! If someone asked me this question I would immediately believe they have my best interest in mind and would be more willing to say yes to warranty and accessories. On the contrary, if you don't recognize that I already know what I want and continue to pepper with me questions so you can try and sell me more I'm going to shut down and say no.

5- If for some reason I end up buying the car from you because I don't want to have to go through this dreadful experience again, please know that I will avoid servicing my car here if at all possible. Of course I'll come for warranty work but even then I'll assume you will try and sell me on maintaince that I don't need. I won't trust what the advisor is saying even if I know they are probably right. I'd rather take my car to the local shop and tell them to do what your advisor recommended.

In conclusion, you are right- the traditional steps to the sale may very well result in a car being sold. What you are not considering is how terrible that experience is and the negative impact it has on service retention and repeat business. As soon as I have another buying option (Carvana is in my market) I will take advantage of that. Oh...I'll also tell my friends and family that if they go to your dealership to buy a car, they can expect the same old tactics. We all know what that means because so many dealers do it the same "basic" way.
 
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