Hyundai Motor America’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Dean Evans has been doing his part to turn the automotive retailing process on its head. Hyundai has been leading the way in adapting to changes in its sales journey, ultimately leading to improved buyer behavior.

In an article on www.thinkwithgoogle.com, Evans writes:

“During my 25-plus years in the auto industry, I’ve seen the buying experience change drastically. Thanks to mobile and other new technologies, today’s consumers are not only more demanding than ever, they’re also research-obsessed. Their purchase journey no longer starts when they walk through the door—it’s instantaneous.”

It is no secret that the information age has changed the way that cars are sold. In the past, the average car buyer used to visit five dealerships during the buying process. Now, that number has dropped to two. More information is available online than ever before, which enables buyers to make better informed decisions before ever setting foot in a dealership.

“Seeing this shift, we knew we needed to connect with our customers in the moments they turned to digital to do their research, or there was little chance we’d get them into our dealerships. This is critical, because while car sales today start online, more than 95% of purchases still happen at the dealership. That meant rethinking our strategy to close the gap between online and offline,” Evans wrote.

Selling an Experience vs. Selling a Car

So, what does this mean for automotive retailing? It means looking beyond the traditional goal of selling a car and focusing on providing a better overall experience for buyers. Many dealers place a high emphasis on the vehicles. When presented with the questions: “why should I buy this car”, these dealers place features, price and incentives at the forefront.

Trends are proving that these things are less important to buyers than ever before. Buyers can get all of that information online before setting foot in the dealership. What buyers really want is an honest price, a simply buying process, and someone to guide them effortlessly through every step of the process, and at their own pace. The biggest differentiating factor between two makes, or two dealerships is not the vehicle and price, but the experience.

Determining Intentions

Hyundai is pioneering this new approach to selling cars. The ever increasing amount of data being collected provides unprecedented insight into buyer behavior and helps to better understand buyer intent.

When a buyer is typing search terms into a search engine, it is important to be able to interpret what they buyer intends to accomplish with each search. Evans’s goal is to understand what the buyer is trying to accomplish at every step, and providing the appropriate information, tools and guidance at each touch.

It would be inappropriate to push hard sell tactics on a buyer who is only starting to explore options and is not ready to buy yet. Likewise, it would be a missed opportunity to focus only on product features when a buyer is obviously ready to buy and needs to know the bottom-line price.

By utilizing all of the tools available, dealers and manufacturers can do a better job of guiding buyers toward the sale before they ever visit a dealership. When done right, the process will be effective and natural.

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