As I walked through the showroom of a dealership I was training, I noticed something very customary, quite disturbing, and yet unspoken. I saw every customer looking at their phone while in the process of purchasing a car. The moment a salesperson would get up from their desk to speak to a manager, get paperwork, or check on an item, they customer whipped their phone back out and began surfing. I’m guessing your sales team and management see this same process play out daily. Let’s talk about how to enhance the customer’s showroom experience by making your showroom mobile-friendly.
First off, customers utilizing mobile devices in every retail environment shouldn’t come as a surprise, My youngest son knew how to use an iPod since before he was 2 years old. My 8 year old knows how to text, shoot video, post to Youtube and search through mobile devices. You have a smartphone within 3 feet of you right now as a matter of fact. Consumer behavior has changed and our showroom processes must fall in line.
Over 60% of all emails are opened using a mobile device. Anyone having worked at a dealership has experienced the dread in the pit of their stomach when, midway through a deal, the potential customer cracks open their smartphone and begins “browsing”. This is known as “Showrooming”. And it needs to be addressed proactively. Here is a study that shows what customers are doing while being mobile on your showroom.
Whenever a consumer shops available inventory, pricing, competitors, or alternatives from their phone while on-site at your location, they are “showrooming”. I’ve met with countless dealers who’ve lost deals (and profit) because of something a customer found on their phone during the showroom process. Some dealer clients have asked if they should shut off Wi-Fi and block all cell reception. Don’t go that route.
If consumers believe the information residing on mobile devices more than information your staff provides them, you need to embrace it, not fight it. Simply put, this new era of “validation selling” lends extremely well to having a mobile-friendly sales team.
If I were back in retail, I would equip every salesperson with a tablet and that tablet would dictate their road to the sale, their days’ duties, and their livelihood. Here are the apps, tools, and items I would place on iPads/tablets for my sales team in an effort to streamline the process, educate the individual, engage the customer, and increase trust.
Instead of sitting visitors down at a desk before or after the test drive, why not simply have the salesperson enter their info into the CRM while on the lot or during the test drive (if they have 4g) to save time? Having an iPad in the sales professional’s hand alone should lend more credibility to them, and isn’t as daunting for customers. Think about it. You give your information to someone who plugs it in a desktop, you feel as if you’re forever trapped in a national telemarketing database. You give your information to someone inputting it into a tablet, and you feel that you’ve only answered a survey question.
(If your CRM doesn’t offer a mobile-friendly version, demand one from them. If they can’t deliver it soon, or don’t have it in the pipeline, switch to a provider that knows what is actually going on in the market)
Advantastar (or another Vehicle Comparison tool)
Customers often knows more about your vehicles than your own salespeople do. If they’re shopping more than one new car brand, you can rest assured they have A LOT more info about your competitor than your team does. For that reason, we need to use tablets and apps to put the knowledge back into your salespeople’s hands. And then place it in the customers’ hands. Within seconds in Advantastar, you can pull up a list of reasons (features, options, specs, and safety info) why your make/model is superior to its competitor. Giving your team a tool that can educate shoppers as to why the alternative to yours shouldn’t be considered is simply a must. You’re not “badmouthing” a competitor if you’re only sharing factual information on a tablet. Use this as an educational resource (for both your team and the client). Do it properly and it becomes a closing tool.
AutoTrader TIM (or another trade evaluator that has a conditions quiz)
Consumers will always believe the 3rd party site’s valuation of their vehicle over that of your Used Car Manager’s, even though they recognize the dollar amount from the UCM is what they’re getting. Now imagine handing an iPad to a customer, taking them to their vehicle, and asking them to evaluate their trade (with your salesperson by their side). Tools like AutoTrader TIM will give a true value (one they can receive a check for) of their vehicle and it is now a legitimate figure in the customer’s eyes since it came from an unbiased source. Moreover, it engages them and makes them part of the process. No more mystery as to what is happening while they sit back at a poorly lit desk waiting for final word from an unknown entity’s interpretation of their vehicle’s value. They do it for themselves. They grasp the honesty of the condition of their vehicle. They manage their own expectations. And they never look at you as a disruptive force when it comes to the value of their trade.
CarStory by Vast (or another selling tool app)
Your sales team may be able to read window stickers and a few specs on some of your used cars, but often it appears the salesperson is experiencing each vehicle for the first time when presenting it to the shopper. The salesperson (or the customer) can use this app to increase their knowledge of the true, worthwhile selling points of each vehicle on the lot. They can learn about its beneficial features, its lower-than-normal mileage, how it compares to others, and how it is priced competitively to the market. Even better, it can help your sales team more quickly find what is available on their lot, as well as what comparable alternatives to show the customer (without flipping through a used car list or walking the lot aimlessly).
(We are sure there are other process and selling-based apps that we aren’t aware of. Intellicar, for instance, is one we liked a couple of years ago, but don’t have enough understanding about its current version to add it to the list.)
App /Tool #5
Insignia (or another accessory-presentation app)
Considering the fact that new car profits continue to dwindle, and dealers are aggressively pricing/presenting their near best-price from the outset online, profits need to be generated from every department. Accessory sales are one easy way to increase the bottom line. After the customer agrees to purchase, while the salesperson runs around getting the vehicle clean and paperwork in order, (and before the customer begins showrooming on their own phones), try handing them the iPad and inviting them to customize their new vehicle to their lifestyle. These interactive apps allow the customer the ability to choose items that may fit their needs, and it can show how their vehicle will look with those aftermarket/dealer-installed features added. They see the price of each option as they make the decision. And best of all… it is their decision. They don’t feel they’re being sold. They feel they are accessorizing.
Your OEM app
I love that our own manufacturers are progressing with dealer-focused apps of their own. Kudos to those particular OEMs that have already created apps intended to help educate sales professionals. They recognize that we need the same weapons in our hands that the customers have in theirs. We especially like it when we see manufacturers such as General Motors and Mazda slowly distributing iPads into their dealership partner’s stores on their behalf.
Let it be known that DealerKnows refuses to accept referral, kick-back, or reseller money from any vendors so these recommendations are not made with the intent to be self-serving marketing propositions. While we do actively consult for a few automotive and non-automotive vendors, none of the apps or tools listed above are clients of DealerKnows. These are simply apps we’ve found during our research, training, and consulting of dealers that could play a positive role in enhancing the art of showrooming for today’s mobile-in-hand customers.
Once you accept that your sales team deserves all the same resources if not more than a customer already has at their fingertips, you must focus on obtaining the hardware. Tablets aren’t cheap, but they aren’t overly expensive either. $299 or so for an iPad mini would suffice. Don’t always count on tablets finding their way from the OEM. Take it upon yourself. You can either purchase them outright with a strong usage contract with your sales team, ensuring they assume responsibility of the devices. Or you can make it a mandate that all employees must use a tablet while working at the dealership. Purchase one for each salesperson upfront and then begin withdrawing $15-20 every two weeks from their pay until they’ve reimbursed the store. Then it is theirs to keep. But they still have to use it. If they lose it, you buy them another and withdraw the monies again. Nonetheless, it needs to be accepted that this is the way the world operates and it is the way the consumer wants to absorb information. Dealers must embrace this sooner rather than later.
We need to have our customers engaging and connecting with our devices rather than their own. This allows you to fashion a better consumer experience for them. Making your dealership mobile friendly will allow you to educate your team, build credibility in your sales force, and guide the customer to their own decision.
[blockquote name=”Joe Webb” organization=”@zonewebb”]Making your dealership mobile friendly will allow you to educate your team, build credibility in your sales force, and guide the customer to their own decision.[/blockquote]