While I really look forward to the day I won’t be blogging about inventory constraints, based on the newest information regarding chip shortages, talk is it could affect vehicle production into 2023. We have clients that have already filled their entire allocations with orders for future vehicles. Ordering vehicles will now have to become a sales skill for today’s automotive professionals. Yet how does one learn to take orders for vehicles without being an order taker? There is a way.
Just because you’re taking orders doesn’t mean “selling” is over. Let’s face it, we could have a software program or showroom kiosk take orders, but there are still valuable opportunities we must explore.
When engaging with shoppers, there are 10 steps to ordering vehicles the right way.
First off, for your own sanity, recognize this is the world we live in now. (Accept that this is a part of the new world so understanding inventory availability is imperative. A firm grasp on one’s inventory needs to be part of every consistent car sales training you emphasize for your team).
An early acknowledgment to the shopper that their desired vehicle is one sought by many with limited supply and production is important. Don’t get their hopes up just to delay their excitement for 6 months. An early introduction to the process of ordering vehicles process needs to be made.
Educating the customer as to why this is happening in our industry, across all makes, referencing sources, and giving them certainty it’s only an obstacle, but one easily managed is important. Ask if they have heard news about inventory shortages.
It is important, now, to not go straight for the deposit, as so many salespeople do. This is where asking questions to best understand your customer is necessary. When you first decided you wanted to get a new vehicle, what steps did you first take in your research? What makes did you consider (or are still considering)? What made you decide on this model? Have you looked into ordering vehicles before? What about the vehicle you desire is a need vs a want? Are there any time constraints you have? Are you concerned with the reliability of your current vehicle? Is your budget available now that may not be later that you should take into consideration? Have you always bought new, or have you purchased a pre-owned in the past? What was your experience with that?
Regardless how dead set they are on their desire to order a vehicle from you (which is still awesome if you think about it), you must let them know you wouldn’t be a good adviser if you didn’t at least recommend a couple alternative vehicles ready right then and there. It is your job to recommend they at least take a peek at something that may serve them better sooner. If you can put their eyes on another vehicle available and open up their potential outcomes, you’re not being an order-taker, you’re providing a solution as an adviser. (This is why understanding your inventory is so necessary.) If they go with that recommendation, which could be financially beneficial to them, continue as you know to handle every sale
Hey – maybe they want what they want, and a deposit is the only way to go. Still realize, while they may only be putting down a small amount of money they may later ask to be refunded, at the very least be enthusiastic about them getting their place in line for an order. Selling a place in line must be equivalent in enthusiasm to buying a vehicle in person. You sell incredible vehicles and they should still be excited about this inevitable purchase. Take that deposit as if they’re winning a bid on a new home. They may not be able to move in right away, but it’s theirs.
It is not too early to get them thinking about accessorizing their vehicles. Right now, because they aren’t going to be having a payment 45 days out, adding accessories to their future vehicle is like spending play money. There is no sting if they see what it converts to in payments. They don’t get sticker shock. Consider using accessory-focused software that shows the consumer what their vehicle will look like if they don’t just take it as stock, but have it customized with dealer-installed accessories to fit their lifestyle. They can always choose to withdraw it any time between now and when it hits the lot, but this both improves profitability and helps them take some mental ownership of the future vehicle.
We need to set realistic expectations on how the deposit works, how long the vehicle is truly estimated to arrive, and also how you will keep them updated throughout the waiting period. Don’t just take the deposit and ring them 3 months from now when you have info on it. Keep engaging them, every 10 days to 2 weeks with any relevant news. It could be anything from info about a factory opening back up to new designs for a model year, all the way to your dealership’s involvement in local charities. Make them a part of the conversation.
If you’re already going to be making them a part of the conversation, why not try to bring them into the fold of the dealership as well? Your service department building long lasting relationships that improve retention. If ordering vehicles means customers are several months out before their new car or truck arrives, why not ensure your team is caring for their current vehicle between now and then? Whether it could be a perk from the dealership that the vehicle they’re trading in gets a free oil change between now and the time their car arrives, or not, you can start building a strong relationship between dealer and customer well in advance of the customer taking delivery.
In the end, be grateful. (As we listen to sales calls and provide phone training to dealerships, we hear a lot of “take it or leave it” language, and this is not the way to start a positive relationship with a client.) Show them how grateful you are they picked your brand, your model, your dealership, and yourself to place this order for their future vehicle. Be grateful they gave you attention and time while you assisted them. Ordering vehicles might be nothing more than paperwork, but it still involves commitment and trust. Salespeople must not overlook this when assisting customers with such a transaction.
At DealerKnows, we spend a lot of time training salespeople and BDC agents on how to overcome obstacles and convert shoppers to customers. Inventory constraints, be damned, ordering vehicles cannot be viewed as a secondary job. Using these 10 steps above will improve the customer experience when ordering vehicles while increasing profits. While ordering vehicles is typically not what excites salespeople, as I’ve shared in my past blog, an important car salesperson tip is to appreciate the small wins. A deposit is definitely something to be happy with.