Don’t Forget the Eighth Element

Customer Satisfaction

By Steve Hanson

Back in the ear­ly sales days, con­sumers would dri­ve from deal­er­ship to deal­er­ship, gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion and brochures while adding or remov­ing cars from their con­sid­er­a­tion list. In-store sales process­es, back then were con­struct­ed around stop­ping the shop­ping, and if we failed to do so, our manager’s idea of con­struc­tive crit­i­cism and coach­ing was to call us “weak.” Yikes! What a mem­o­rable First Moment of Truth (FMOT) that must have been for the con­sumer!

Today, the mod­ern car-shop­ping process has changed. We know from the Google ZMOT play­book that sev­en of the top eight auto­mo­tive buy­ing influ­ences are online. The “eighth ele­ment” is your in-store process­es. Sad­ly though, too many deal­er­ships com­bine a win­ning ZMOT strat­e­gy with an in-store process­es as anti­quat­ed as a K-car.

Tips and Tricks for Cre­at­ing a Mod­ern In-Store Process

•  Man­ag­er Meet and Greet: The Man­ag­er T.O. worked great when cars still had retractable seat belts and cas­sette play­ers, but now con­sumers don’t want to be turned over to a man­ag­er after they have made a deci­sion to leave…or intro­duced to some mys­te­ri­ous per­son when a deal can’t be agreed upon. Deal­er­ship man­agers should get out from behind their desks and walk the show­room meet­ing and greet­ing cus­tomers at the begin­ning of the sales process, not at the end.

•  Cus­tomer Qual­i­fy­ing: Embrace the fact that your con­sumers will like­ly have received some seri­ous edu­ca­tion by the time they set foot in your show­room. Let your cus­tomer know that if they have ques­tions or need access to addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion while they are shop­ping, that you have a com­put­er or iPad avail­able where they can pri­vate­ly get online.

• Nego­ti­at­ing: Con­sumers want trans­paren­cy as well as an expe­dit­ed sales process. They don’t want to spend five hours in your deal­er­ship buy­ing a car. As Sales Man­agers, you con­trol the deal flow. So when it comes to nego­ti­at­ing price, don’t imple­ment a sales process that requires your sales­peo­ple to run back and forth nego­ti­at­ing num­bers with the desk. Your deal­er­ship sales process should allow the sales manager’s first pen­cil to be direct­ly with the con­sumer.

Steve Han­son is Cobalt’s Senior Man­ag­er of Per­for­mance Improve­ment Con­sult­ing and can be reached at



    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required field are marked *.