Four Ways That Sales Staff Can Embrace the Role of Consultant for Potential Car Buyers

Cox Automotive

In the last decade, the role of the consumer has changed. These days, customers enjoy more control over their purchasing experiences. They no longer have to wait for a show to come on television, consumers have Netflix or other television choice options to choose from. The hotel and taxi industry have been shaken to its core since consumers can now share their own homes and cars through companies like Airbnb and Uber.

Consumers Have a Lot of Information at Their Disposal

In addition to the shift of the consumer’s role, the internet provides a treasure trove of information for customers to make informed decisions about what they want to purchase. This extends to the auto industry. According to the 2017 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Survey, 60 percent of the car buying process is spent researching and shopping online. Today, consumers have an extensive amount of information at their fingertips. It is common for consumers to enter the dealership with an idea of what they are looking for in an automobile.

A Lack of Trust Threatens the Car Buyer Process

This fact coupled with a lack of trust in the dealership process has spurred the data found by CDK Global. In 2017, their research revealed that consumers prefer salespeople to take on a consultative role. How can dealerships begin to implement this finding with their sales staff, and empower them to better support customers? Below are four ways that salespeople can step into a consultative role with potential car buyers.

Ask as many questions as possible – Each customer needs a sales experience tailored to their wants and needs. Many things could impact their decision to purchase a new vehicle such as the status of the current car, a new addition to the family, or a change in income. Knowing these factors can help salespeople provide an option that fits the car buyer’s lifestyle as well as their budget. It also shows they are taking the time to actively listen to what the customer is saying which shows consideration and excellent customer service.

Embrace the role of expert – Again, many customers have an idea of what they are looking for, even if they are not yet exactly sure of the specific model they would like. However, it is helpful when salespeople can tell the consumer something they do not already know. The technical specifications of the car, technology capabilities, and the loan approval process are details that will help customers make a decision. Instead of seeking to “sell” the car, salespeople can instead become experts to give consumers all the information they need to make a well-informed choice for their budget and current lifestyle.

Settle anxiousness about the loan process – According to the 2017 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Survey, consumers are the least satisfied with the F&I process. It can be overwhelming, frustrating, and arduous. This is even more so for individuals who may fear they do not have the best financial history. While the salesperson may not have total control over this process, they can help ease the anxiety of consumers. Asking questions about what they are looking to spend, their credit history, and a potential down payment amount can give the salesperson an idea of the financial situation of the buyer. It helps if the salesperson acknowledges their concerns, and assures them the F&I team will do what they can to put them in a car they can afford. Stepping out of the sales process to ease this worry will go a long way.

Have information about each vehicle readily accessible – Car buyers could plan to visit multiple dealerships in the day, making for an even longer experience. Consumers would appreciate a salesperson that can quickly retrieve information on each vehicle. Some dealerships now give their sales staff tablets that include pricing, mileage, historical, service, and specification information on each car in the lot. This again reinforces the salesperson as information expert and makes consumers feel they are efficient and respect their time. A tablet can also help sales staff answer fundamental financial questions before they get to the F&I office.

Every consumer needs to feel listened to and respected. The attitudes of sales staff impact how consumers see them. If dealers train their staff to be considerate and empathetic and treat customers like peers, then the trust and loyalty of consumers will increase. These factors will likely lead to more sales and referrals.