Putting the Customer First

One of the reasons people want to avoid going to a dealership until it’s absolutely necessary is that they are anticipating a fight. Through their own experiences, the experiences of family and friends or just buying into the stereotype, many see dealerships as a battlefield where only the most committed walk away with a “good deal.”

If you want to earn a customer’s business — and earn it for life — your dealership must be seen as the opposite of what they expect. Instead of being their adversary, you’ve got to be their advocate.

The Same Team

The difference between an adversarial relationship and a mutually beneficial one starts at the very top of the sales funnel—the initial marketing phase. In order to be seen as different from the stereotype, a dealership must reach the consumer with targeted, relevant information. The good news is that there’s a staggering amount of data consumers generate through their day-to-day online and offline shopping activities to help a dealership accomplish this goal. To make the most of the data available that matters to consumers, however, tools such as artificial intelligence and predictive analytics must be brought into play.

There’s a fine line between using the data and getting lost in it. You’ve got to make sure what you’re doing is relevant to each consumer. Utilizing AI is imperative because dealerships don’t have time to do this on their own. Tools such as the email blast have become things of the past. You want to make sure that your dealership is there for the customer and sends an individualized message at the right stage of their sales and maintenance lifecycle.

Getting Off to the Right Start

While a dealership needs to get the consumer’s attention, it’s important that you not overwhelm them by showing just how much information you have on each consumer through the use of AI. Instead, bringing up timely, appropriate messages is key to becoming top of mind and forging a relationship.

Using a “soft-sell” approach lets the consumer guide when they’re ready to buy without pushing the dealership’s agenda onto them. Timely communication — even just checking in to see where they are in their lifecycle — can help you capture a consumer’s attention.

The Modern Marketing Mindset

Successful dealerships have found that individualized communication gets consumers onto the lot in ways that “pray and spray” marketing can’t, and simply opening the doors and expecting business is no longer an option. You have to build relationships and the key is to start digitally.

To stand apart from the competition, dealerships must demonstrate they understand what the consumer wants and where they are on the path to sale or service. Tools such as marketing automation driven by AI allow dealerships to do just that and, as a result, can help them be seen as advocates rather than “pushy” salespeople in the journey to a new vehicle.

The Win-Win Scenario

While moving from the classic advertising tactics to a new, more focused approach might require a period of transition for the dealership in the short run, the effects will be worth it for both the business and the consumer long-term.

Preparing consumers with correct, relevant information about their vehicle of interest, the dealership and the process, allows dealers to build an offer with an educated customer who’s happy to be there, rather than one who comes in with their defenses raised, ready for a fight. Dealers can retain profit on each vehicle more effectively, get better reviews and word-of-mouth references and bring a customer back for servicing and additional vehicle purchases in the future.

Stay tuned for the next article in this series as we dive into the three customer questions dealers must be able to answer, and REGISTER NOW for our upcoming webinar December 13 at 2pm EST “Success Through Innovation: Tips for Your Dealership” with James Kurtenbach, Marketing Director at Schomp Automotive Group, and Jill Howard, Director of Client Services at A2Z Sync.