Right now, this inventory shortage is making salespeople lazy. Sales skills have flown out the window because all it takes to sell an in-stock unit to a customer is letting them know you do indeed have it available. Shoppers want what they want and if there isn’t a sea of those vehicles for them to consider, they go to the dealership that has it. This also proves dealers must do a better job obtaining inventory by opening up seldom-used channels to fill their lots.
This inventory shortage highlights two skillsets that have been either never strengthened or rarely explored.
1. Purchasing Vehicles from Private Party Sellers
The first is acquiring inventory beyond the auction and trade. Software that collects and aggregates private party sellers is now being used by dealerships to open a new channel to buying quality cars. (Vehicle Acquisition Network is one example.) DealerKnows has been helping dealers find these prospects and teach how to communicate with them to either set an appraisal appointment or make sight-unseen offers on their available automobiles.
Adding an additional 20 used cars to your lot from local private sellers goes a long way toward keeping inventory full and fresh. If not sending sight-unseen purchase offers on these vehicles, we have re-configured our “Appraisal Appointment” tactics. Consumers already believe KBB and Edmunds is a “professional appraisal” so inviting them into a store for that seems frustrating to shoppers. Instead, we urge them to talk to the shoppers about these evaluator sites, align themselves with the sites, and invite them in for a “simple condition check and quick drivability test”. This has shown to be more understandable to customers. “Of course, they need to see what condition it’s in and make sure it drives”, they justify.
2. Setting Appointments When You Don’t Have the Inventory
The second skillset the inventory shortage has shown is lacking is how to invite customers in when you don’t have the inventory. Whether it be the cause of the pandemic or people’s general need for instant gratification, much like Veruca Salt, customers want it now. Unfortunately, between chip shortages and manufacturing plants closed, supply has not kept up with demand, and dealers do not have an infinite assortment of the vehicles shoppers seek. My partner, Bill Playford’s, mantras is, “Get them to stop shopping.” So… how do can we take someone out of the market when we don’t have what they want to buy readily available?
Setting appointments is one of our strengths. I’ve written (and trained) endlessly on the best techniques on how to set appointments. Always invite them in for something actionable. This is the key to BDC training. In the case of auto dealers, that is changing your technique to craft the invite for a “test drive”, “trade appraisal” (recreated above), “credit approval”, or “purchase”. Well now there is a fifth option, still actionable, that allows you to take a customer out of the market and have them stop shopping. The Build and Order Appointment. Here is the conversation with an online or on-phone shopper…
“As I’m sure you have heard or seen on the news, there is a significant inventory shortage right now. Since most shoppers don’t just want to settle on whatever is still available on dealer lots, but rather want exactly what they want, considering they’ll be driving it for the next 5-7 years, most are placing refundable deposits on inbound, in-transit units, or ordering their perfect vehicle right from the factory. When is the best time for you to sit down with a product expert and build out the exact vehicle you want. We can show you what is incoming and not spoken for, as well as get one right from the assembly line for you. Is today good or tomorrow better?”
As salespeople, your team is expected to be, not just the facilitator of a sale, but an authority on how best to buy. This means educating customers as to current market conditions and showing them the options available for them to purchase.
By exploring a new ocean of inventory at your fingertips and training your team to acquire it, you can keep the flow of traffic online and in-store, alive and well. By training your team to overcome the lack of inventory when setting appointments, you’ll take shoppers out of the market while giving them the best chance to get a vehicle sooner rather than later.
This inventory shortage isn’t going away anytime soon, and it will take our inventory a while to rebound to normal levels of vehicles and sold units. Times like these are not when we should let our selling skills atrophy, but rather when we must explore new exercises to keep our people sharp and our sales strong.
Not everyone was born to do this, remember. Make sure you have the right people in place in Joe’s blog Not Everyone Was Born to Run the Ball.