Impress both the buyer and her companion to improve dealership sales. BY ANNE FLEMING
When buying a car, 54 percent of women bring someone with them to the dealership, in contrast to only 44 percent when simply shopping for a car. Why do women feel the need to bring someone with them when they are ready to sign the deal?
Obviously, if a woman is buying a car for herself or her family, in most cases she and her partner will buy together. But in other circumstances, a woman may want or need additional support while making a car purchase. This article explores the reasons women might feel the need for extra help and how dealerships can make purchasing cars more comfortable, expedient and reliable for women buyers.
An Extra Pair of Eyes
When making any big decision (like when buying a condo or house), it is natural for a woman to bring a trusted advisor as an extra pair of eyes on the deal. A woman may bring a partner or spouse, a friend or a trusted colleague. A sales advisor should always assume that the person accompanying the woman buyer is an important part of the deal. In fact, the accompanying person may be the one most likely to make or break the deal. A sales advisor must realize that the other person in the room has been tasked with finding a reason not to do the deal. This person is likely less emotionally involved and will be looking out for the car buyer. Learning to read body language and understanding subtext – what the other person is really saying – will help a sales advisor intercept any objections that might arise. More importantly, a sales advisor should never engage in conflict with the buyer’s companion, as this could easily break the deal. Any questions from either the buyer or the companion should be met with clear, helpful answers that quickly resolve any issues. As an additional bonus, this is a great chance to impress the companion and set the stage for a future sale.
A Case of Nerves
When surveyed, women car buyers ranked “apprehension” as their No. 2 emotion during the car buying process. It is only natural, then, for a woman to bring someone along to provide calming support. Dealerships can help encourage a relaxed environment by providing a private, quiet area for completing the purchase. Gone are the days where a cold, hard-pressure environment was an effective sales tool. For women, a high-pressure approach may make them walk out of your dealership to find a more supportive way to purchase a car. A warm, genuine smile and a calm demeanor from a sales advisor can go a long way towards establishing trust and ensure that the experience will fall within the woman buyer’s comfort zone.
Lack of Confidence
A lack of confidence may be the “elephant in the room” during a woman’s car buying effort. While buying cars used to be largely a male-dominated task, today’s numbers show that women are an ever-increasing segment of car buyers. Women now account for more than half of the vehicle sales each year and influence up to 80 percent of car purchases. Thirty-eight percent of women car buyers out earn their husbands. On average, women buy or lease eight cars in their lifetime. Dealerships will be ahead of the game if they provide ways for a woman to feel confident about her current deal. Sales advisors can help boost confidence by using facts and avoiding any attempts to provide false encouragement or pressure. At the same time, a savvy advisor will learn ways to positively encourage a woman’s questions about the deal so she leaves feeling that her needs were met or exceeded.
Women can often feel their negotiating skills are not up to par with men’s. This is reflected in the way women will spend extra time researching their choice of cars, and will visit more dealerships than men while shopping for a car. While many women may feel under-confident while negotiating, chances are they have done their research and are very well prepared. A sales advisor who listens carefully to a woman’s questions and explains deal terms in a professional manner is sealing a deal now and creating potential for future sales.
We’ve addressed the 54 percent of women who bring someone with them when buying a car. What about the 46 percent who buy a car solo? What can a dealership do to complete today’s deal and lay the groundwork for future sales?
A woman buying a car alone encounters the same issues as the one who brings company with her. There are many reasons a woman might come alone to buy a car. She most likely is completely at ease and confidant doing so. Or, she is used to making purchases on her own. Or, timing might not have been right to bring someone to the buying appointment. When a woman chooses to finalize a car deal on her own, it is up to the dealership to fill the role of trusted and respected advisor. If a sales advisor has taken the time to create a comfortable, trusting relationship with the buyer, the sales process can be relaxed and efficient.
The Deal Isn’t Over Yet
The papers are signed, the handshakes are done and the keys are handed over. Is the deal done? Not by a long shot. Now is where an astute dealership knows to take stock and analyze the deal. Ask questions to see if the woman buyer is satisfied. Find out if there are areas where the buying process could be improved. Conduct a follow-up survey in a non-threatening environment to assess the sales process. Encourage satisfied buyers to write reviews for your dealership. If your buyer wasn’t satisfied, take immediate steps to remedy her issues and implement strategies to avoid the problems with future buyers. Never underestimate a woman’s power to influence her friends and family in a positive – or negative – way.
Taking the time to understand women’s motivations during a car sale can drive more business to your dealership. After all, you want her coming to your service drive. Whether solo or in numbers, women car buyers are an increasingly important part of your dealership’s success.