Though digital retail continues to take off in the world of automotive, the majority of customers still want to visit your dealership and work with a real person before pulling the trigger on that new car. In fact, we shared a 2-part blog post about this exact topic when it comes to car sales in the senior demographic, which you can check out here.
One of the key takeaways from those case studies was that the in-person dealership experience remains a vital part of any vehicle sale. Today’s shopper can decipher stale sales tactics and has become wary of the “car salesman” trope. What your customers are looking for is connection, somebody who understands their needs, and a salesperson who can think creatively to solve their problems.
Sure, to sell more cars at a dealership, it doesn’t hurt to have a wide selection of inventory, competitive prices, financial options, a robust online experience, etc. But in this post, we’ll be focusing on how understanding the needs and wants of your customers, and enabling your sales team to meet those needs, can help boost your car sales in 2022 and beyond.
To Start: ask yourself, “what is fuelling my sales team’s tactics?
Many salespeople are still paid on a commission structure, and there is nothing wrong with that. When used properly, commissions and bonuses can be excellent incentives in the world of sales. But you’ll want to make sure your people are still representing the values of your dealership regardless of how your pay structure is defined.
Are they trying to push customers into a car that’s not the best fit for their needs? Using high-pressure sales tactics to force customers into vehicles they don’t need or can’t afford? Ignoring customers with a lower budget because they don’t think the commission is “worth it?”
These types of tactics can backfire, particularly if they lead to bad reviews and dwindling referrals. No matter how your commission structure works at your dealership, put effort into training your team to use quality sales tactics. This can include treating all customers with the respect they deserve, listening to their needs, not wasting a customer’s time, and working with honesty and integrity. You can also consider implementing different incentives that don’t encourage poor salesmanship - namely, building a healthy and respectful culture at your dealership that makes your employees proud to show up each day and put their best foot forward.
Customer Psychological Profiling 101
Psychological profiling is a form of marketing that is used to target potential customers based on psychological factors. This type of marketing can target customers based on their personality type, values, and needs with specific ads and messages designed to appeal to their psychological needs.
That’s all good and well, but how does psychological profiling help car dealers? Well, you might use psychological profiling to target potential customers who are likely to be interested in a new product. A common example might be dealers having their ads team target geographic areas with a high number of students through the fall.
Psychological profiling sounds fancy, but it can be done quite simply and for minimal cost while also leading to improved sales conversions, making it a valuable sales tool to explore. Some examples include:
Send surveys in your area (you can offer an incentive for surveys, such as $20 off your next oil change). You can do this via email, set up a bake sale and exchange a free treat for a brief survey, or by getting active on social media to engage with your followers.
Get out into the community via volunteering efforts or sponsoring local teams/events to learn more about your potential customers (and also to do some good!)
Get Personal With Your Customers
When customers enter a store, they want to feel like they matter and are not just another number. By learning the customer's name, their needs, their problems, and basically as much about the customer as possible, the salesperson can create a more personal interaction and make the customer feel valued. All of these things will help build trust and ensure the customer drives away in the best vehicle for their needs. Referring to someone by name is particularly important in sales because it shows that you are listening, interested in having a conversation, and helps build rapport.
Enable Your Team to Use the BANT Approach
The BANT approach is a system for qualifying sales leads. BANT stands for:
When a sales representative calls on a lead that has been generated from a marketing campaign, consider training them to use the BANT approach to assess whether the lead is qualified to buy.
The BANT approach's first step is determining the client's budget. This can be done by asking questions about their financial situation and what they can afford. For example, you could ask the client how much they are willing to spend on a vehicle and their monthly budget for car payments. Is there wiggle room in these figures? Are there credit concerns? Many car dealers are realizing the value in working budget-first, which is a departure from more old school sales tactics.
The second step in the BANT approach is to determine whether the client has the authority to make a purchase. This can be done by asking questions about their decision-making process. For example, you could ask the client who will be making the final decision on the purchase and what their timeline is for making a decision. Is the car for them? A dependent? When are they hoping to drive away with their vehicle?
The third step in the BANT approach is determining the client's need for the product or service. This can be done by asking questions about their current situation and goals. For example, you could ask the client their current vehicle and why they are looking to replace it. Other important questions include whether they do mostly city/highway driving, how big their family is, if it’s primarily a work or leisure vehicle, will they have towing needs, is the aesthetic of the vehicle important to them, and what level of technology do they want from their vehicle.
You don’t need to ask these questions flat out to find the answers. Simply have a friendly conversation with your customer and their various needs should naturally come up. Then your salesperson can piece together a profile of best-fit vehicles for the customer.
The fourth step in the BANT approach is determining the client's timeline for making a purchase. This can be done by asking questions about their current situation and when they want the product or service. For example, you could ask the client when their current vehicle lease is up or if they need the vehicle in order to start a new job, welcome a new baby, move to a new city, or start school in September.
The Bottom Line: Customer Care is at the Heart of Car Sales
There are many ways to sell more cars at a dealership, and your specific business will have its own way of doing things. But some lead handling and sales methods are more effective than others, not to mention that shifting demographics will continue to change the buying habits of your customers. If you don’t adapt to their needs, then you’re likely to be missing out on car sales. So train your sales team well, and provide them with various techniques that can better appeal to potential buyers and help close more sales.
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