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.