The Reality of Car Buying

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Dennis Galbraith, Chief Marketing Officer

Dennis Galbraith, Chief Marketing Officer

There are a wide range of reality TV shows about conflicts couples or families go through when shopping for an expensive item (e.g. home buying/remodel, wedding dress, etc.). Obviously, these shows dramatize the tension and conflicts occurring between the various decision makers and influencers, but there would be no basis for the shows if some level of real-world tension didn’t exist in this type of shopping experience. In our business, most vehicles are still purchased with more than one person involved in the shopping process, and with that, brings challenges.

A portion of the reality show dramas revolve around the business professional and how they interact or don’t interact with the shoppers as tensions arise. Negotiating this kind of sales challenge was a tricky prospect when I started selling cars in 1979 and remains so today. However, much of the real-life drama that used to take place at the store now happens before the shoppers ever get to the store. We often say vehicle consideration sets are expanded and contracted online, but it is more correct to say this process is aided by information found online. That information may be shared with other shoppers via text, email, Skype conversation, print outs, or by the same screen, but the shoppers are engaged with the content and making purchase decisions in complete absence of any person in the store.

Every dealership experiences thousands of site visits from unique individuals each month, and only a small fraction of them ever phone, email, text, chat, or come into the store. Clearly every store is losing a number of shoppers not to a direct competitor but to the shopping experience itself. The prospective benefit of buying no longer outweighs the very real cost of shopping, and the shoppers agree to delay their vehicle purchase for months or even years.

Minimizing this fallout is a key component to maximizing sales. The first salesperson involved in the shopping process is often the shopper most desiring the purchase. They try to sell their partner or partners on the vehicle purchase. Progressive dealerships now provide more vehicle content on their websites than ever before. They recognize the need to go beyond the information needs of the site visitor – often the person who most wants the vehicle – to giving the site visitor the tools they need to persuade the other decision makers or influencers.

Once we recognize some shoppers are actually on the site gathering information to successfully sell someone else on the prospective purchase, giving them access to all the tools they might need only makes sense. All-new Responsive Server Side (RESS) sites provided by Dealer eProcess come standard with downloadable factory brochures and owner’s manuals, NHTSA crash test ratings, EPS green scores, and a comprehensive list of the awards and accolades won by the vehicle in the model year it was created new.

responsive vdp

Conflicts between shoppers are nothing new, but a higher percentage of them occur prior to any human engagement from the store with any of the shoppers. Fortunately, dealership websites are being used by more shoppers than ever before, and the new standard for vehicle merchandising allows dealers to step up with information to help resolve conflicts even before anyone in the dealership is engaged. It doesn’t happen at most stores because the problem is both out of sight and out of mind. Modern selling means being effective across both the human and technological touchpoints. The latter requires content most dealerships have never provided, further expanding the competitive advantage for those who do.

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