There can be forks in the road, dead ends, and detours on the way to a sale that sometimes seem simply inexplicable. Of course, factors out of your control–inventory issues, pandemic uncertainty, and consumers choosing to wait out record-high prices–can play a role. But imagine the advantage you would have over the competition if you knew the secret to what makes a customer purchase from one dealer instead of another. The good news is we do know one way to make a customer’s shortlist: earn their trust.
Today, most consumers are just unwilling to get close to signing paperwork with a dealership that has not sufficiently answered all their questions from day one. That means providing as much information as possible on your website for buyers in the research process. But it also means that the first contact they have with your dealership can play a huge role. How can you build trust from day one?
Be There for Your Customers
Despite the increase in online activity in the last several years, the phone remains a critical contact point. On average, research shows that nearly two-thirds of sales leads at car dealerships still come in via phone call. Don’t let those opportunities pass by without a plan for re-engaging. When you do connect with the customer, make sure you have access to the same information they do online. If the information you share during that call doesn’t match what caught their eye online, it can feel like you’re not transparent with your pricing.
Respond to emails, chats, and texts as though the customer was in front of you asking the same questions. Research shows that buyers are three times more likely to keep engaging with your dealership if your response time frame ranges from 10 to 30 minutes. And remember, personalization really makes a difference. If you use a “cut and paste” response, customers start to feel a disconnect.
Be Consistent with Pricing
Customers don’t appreciate a surprise. When they make first contact and learn that some fees and other pricing information weren’t accurately presented online during their research, that’s a red flag. Inconsistent price details between a third-party website and the dealer’s website, a disconnect when moving from online to contacting a salesperson, or surprise fees can erode trust past the breaking point.
Especially with today’s record prices, consumers can be wary about the actual value of the vehicle they’re considering compared to the deal they’re offered. They want to know how the price was derived and what fees are included (or excluded). The same goes for a trade. If a customer has researched their trade value on a third-party site, they expect to hear the same value at the dealership.
Listen to Their Concerns
Help your customers fight “decision fatigue” by evaluating the factors that are giving them pause. If you’re having the conversation about F&I products early in the process, be sure to understand how to navigate the four most common customer objections. By showing that you understand their concerns, you can prove that you intend to be the best advocate for your customers.
Customers are much further along in the process than they used to be when they contact a dealership. They do not want to feel like they’re back at square one when they reach out to speak to someone at your dealership. If you focus on building trust right away, potential buyers will feel like they made the right choice.