According to recent studies, consumer adoption of online vehicle sales processes are skyrocketing. The Rise of the Digital Experience in the COVID-19 Era reports that buyers are 65% more likely to complete the steps necessary for purchasing their next car online—and it doesn’t stop there¹. One report shows that 95% of consumers want companies to implement social distancing and safety measures before they will consider buying². The fact is: virtual options for buying a car are here to stay. Below are best-practice tips for building a long-term virtual sales model at your dealership from our guide, Reimagining the Road to the Sale.
Optimize Your New Virtual Sales Model
Selling online and building a virtual experience was a must-do at the beginning of 2020. The biggest mistake dealers can make will be to consider this option as a “nice to have,” when things return to normal. According to research, 89% of dealers agree they must find alternative ways to sell cars if they want to survive³. It’s simply imperative that you build a selling model that works for buyers who may never visit your showroom in person.
Stay Human in a Digital Environment
Don’t make the mistake of thinking about your buyers as an abstract concept, simply because you cannot see them. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine going through the buying process—for what may be the biggest purchase they make in several years—as if you were the one making the commitment. Just because you may be using chat features and email, try to humanize the experience. Keep the same buying agent with your customer throughout the entire experience from virtual meet and greet to video walk arounds and virtual test drives to signing. Make sure your salespeople have their profiles updated online so that your buyers know they’re talking with real people. And, don’t underestimate the value of a real, live phone call to let people hear your voice.
Offer Options for Consumers
The rise of the digital deal has made digital retailing and virtual sales easier than ever. Make sure to incorporate digital document management, utilizing cloud storage and data management, to deliver important documents to your buyers. But, always allow your buyer to decide their level of comfort along the way. While 2 out of 3 buyers report they’d prefer to buy a car 100% online, there may still be a percentage of shoppers who are more comfortable with a hybrid sales process¹. As long as your sales team is ready to offer multiple options for buyers to choose from, your dealership will be ready to close the next deal.
The new normal will replace the traditional retail automotive dealership and sales process as the economy recovers. Building a better digital sales experience will position your team to deliver the best buying experience for customers now, and in the future.
² Prosper Insights & Analytics from Forbes: Customer Experience Mindset In A Post COVID-19 World: An Infograph
³Source: 2019 Urban Science “Consumer & Dealer Perceptions on the Future of Automotive Networks”