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How Digital Retailing Relates to Real Life Car Sales

Does your digital presence match your in-person experience? Find out what it takes on the Flex blog!

Moving into 2022, one of the expectations I have as a marketer is that we’ll see dealers experience a turn of the tides back to creating in-person dealership experiences that go above and beyond. Your digital efforts are still incredibly important, but what happens when you get on the phone with a customer, meet them on the sales floor, or sit next to them during a test drive?

In this article, I’ll be exploring why it’s vital that your digital retailing efforts and your in-person dealership experience stay aligned in order to move more metal and grow your business.

1. Treat In-Store, Warm Lead Handling as a Priority

Sure, you can get plenty of leads through your online efforts, but if your sales team is dropping the ball, they are essentially wasted leads. Here are some tips on in-store lead handling so you can maximize the results of your digital marketing strategy and spending:

checkmarkAnswer your leads! I shouldn’t need to say this!

checkmarkCreate a process for answering your leads for each platform (email, Facebook message, etc.) that is consistent and puts the customer in the driver’s seat.

checkmarkDon’t leave them hanging; answering their questions should be your top priority - not just getting them in for a test drive.

checkmarkMake your appointments: nothing should take a higher priority than meeting a customer at their booked appointment time.

checkmarkTreat the customer like gold - and like a good friend. Stay with them during their visit to make them feel they’re supported.

checkmarkHave sufficient inventory and know the specs inside-out. They might not love the vehicle they inquired about online, so be prepared with options that will better meet their needs.

In short: meet their needs. Create an environment that makes them want to do business with you by ensuring that they’re the star of the show.

Don’t handle the e-lead and forget to create the experience when the customer comes to your lot. What you’re doing in-person and online need to reflect each other.


2. You Can Talk the Talk, But Be Sure to Walk the Walk.

If I had a dollar for every dealership that thought transparency and being nice was their USP, I’d have approximately 357 dollars. Do those things always come across in your team’s actions? Eh, not so much. The actions that every single member of your team takes should reflect the image that you are portraying in your digital efforts.  

checkmarkIf you are funny on Instagram, the customer should be laughing when they are on your lot.

checkmarkDo you brag about washing every vehicle before each test drive? The customer better not smell someone else’s cologne and find mud on the bumper.

checkmarkIf you claim that you have the lowest prices in town: actually have the lowest prices in town. 

checkmarkIf price transparency is important to you, make sure that the customer can see what you paid for it, what’s been added to it, any fees, and their end price. Don’t make it confusing to figure out, either.

checkmarkIf you promise a gas card, remember to offer the gas card and don’t make customers ask for it. 

checkmarkIf your website offers same-day delivery, make that happen for every single buyer.

checkmarkSubprime options? If your advertisements say that you can get anyone approved, there better not be a single person walking away without an approval.

You get the point!

3. Share the Many Faces of Your Dealership Across All Platforms

You know how that one salesperson you’ve had in your dealership for 15 years is recognized wherever he goes? That means something. People like affinity; people do business with people they trust. 

Share the faces of your dealership on your website and across social media outlets. The staff page is one of the most-viewed pages on almost all monthly performance reports that we see and for good reason! A vehicle is a big purchase and people want to know who they’re dealing with. If they feel like they already know you before they visit your lot, you’re doing something right.

4. Create Continuity in your Advertising

The real-life promotions need to be online, and the online promotions need to be known to your entire team. These promotions should be one-in-the-same. Imagine if a customer came into your dealership, and mentioned something they saw online, and your sales rep had no idea what they were talking about? Pretty awkward and off-putting.

The visual collateral you’re presenting, the offers available, and the inventory being showcased should be consistent across every touchpoint your dealership has.

5. Stop Worrying About Attribution

It’s no secret that there’s almost no true way to track the impact of digital marketing on a one-to-one matching basis for sales. Can you understand where subsets of traffic and leads are coming from? Definitely! But how that trickles down to sales is more complex, and you shouldn’t try to get this granular. 

Making a sustainable business that will grow all comes back to:

checkmarkBeing authentic

checkmarkDoing the right thing for your customers, no matter what

checkmarkBeing honest

How do you track the impact of doing business with someone you trust? You just know.

Building that relationship of trust often starts online these days, and that’s okay! Build it to your ultimate advantage with honesty, authenticity, and the confidence that the intangible brand you’re building will win.

We’re here to help.

Whit Norrad      

Whit Norrad      

Whether she's in the dealership rocking USPs with clients or behind the screen, Whit's on mission to scale your local business. With over 10 years of experience in marketing and biz dev at the height of tech expansion, Whit supports individual dealerships as they navigate changing landscapes and grow their businesses.

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