Relationships, Gross Profit, CSI... OH MY! How do customers want to communicate today? Is the selling process at the dealership designed for the dealership or is it designed for the customer? In this day of ever advancing technology, is the automotive dealership using technology or is technology using the dealership?
These were all topics discussed in an article posted in The Automotive News by Lindsay Chappell. Mr. Chappell states that not only have cars changed, but the way people shop for and buy cars have changed. The question is, has the way cars are sold changed?
FACT: J.D. Power states that customers are now visiting an average of no more than 1.4 dealerships before purchasing; down from 4.5 in 2005.
Grant Cardone has been at the forefront calling for a shorter more customer focused selling cycle and has leveraged Information Based Selling to increase profit and customer satisfaction with Nissan, Infiniti, Chrysler and Kawasaki.
FACT: AutoTrader reports that the average car shopper spends 13.75 hours researching online before engaging a dealership.
What does this tell us about the customer? It says they are looking to minimize time at the dealership. What it also says is that there is no need to spend 4 - 5 hours at the dealership or any shopping environment for that matter. Especially when so much of the shopping is done on-line now.
Is relationship important? Absolutely. Now more than ever, but what the customer (think people who give us the money that allows us to support our families) is telling us is that the way we build that relationship needs to be different.
In Sell Or Be Sold, Grant Cardone states fundamentals of selling like service is senior, treat 'em like millionaires, love the one you're with and a great attitude is worth more than a great product. These fundamentals also reverberate all through Grant's online programs Cardone On Demand and Cardone University.
With that in mind, Oren Klaff in Pitch Anything also observes that customers and clients have been seeing the same old school tactics for 50+ years and they're over it. Courtesy of Google one can access 893,000 ways to unclog a toilet in 0.51 seconds. Look how rapid and abundant information is. Even Bob and Betty are using the Internet to shop. It may be Bob and Betty's grandson at the keyboard, but let me tell you, they saw the TrueCar commercial during Good Morning America and they are there. Times change, industries change, markets change and most of the time it's consumer driven.
Try this: Run down to the local video store and rent a copy of Weekend At Bernie's. What's that you say? There is no video store anymore? Why bother, when you have Netflix? The music industry was convinced that their customers would never abandon the thrill of flipping through CD bins and walking the cassette wall. Napster single handedly destroyed retail music. And there are people reading this right now too young to remember not just Napster but the local record store. Point being, retail environments (a car dealership is retail) change with the flow and demand of the customer and technology.
While not all customers need or want a faster process, they all need a process that is about them, not about working them through a series of steps designed to control them. Grant challenges, "Would you advertise your selling process?" Would you tell a customer "in order to do business with us you have to go through a 12 step process that will take about 4-5 hours and encompass everything you hate about car buying."
Why wouldn't you simplify it for the customer? People need things to be fast, simple and easy now. No one willingly allows anyone to waste their respective time. Again, consider Netflix, Amazon, and Google. People get information, shop and buy differently. There are some who believe that you absolutely have to drive a car before you buy it. Most people do, but not everyone. Take a look at Zappos. People buying shoes before trying them on would have sounded foolish 10 years ago, but now thousands of people do it everyday. Zappos literally brings the shoe store to you. If dealerships do not adapt and become flexible to the customer and their actual wants and needs, the customer will discipline the dealership. Those that are not willing to go to the customer, for example, will lose business to the ones that are.
So to answer the question, how long should it take to buy a car? The car buying process should be streamlined to make it as efficient and as easy as possible for a customer to say yes and do a deal. Not all customers are looking for a long term relationship. Some will be however and sales people need to be trained to handle the relationship buyer as well as the "don't waste my time mudda-#$%^ time" buyer.
This is exactly why sales training also needs to modernize it's approach. How do the people entering the workforce consume information these days? They go to Google and Wikipedia for information. They watch 3 videos a day on YouTube and only crack open 1 book per year. Why wouldn't a company want to train their staff in the same environment that the staff goes to for all other information and more importantly a solution. Doesn't it make since? Sales managers and sales people have unique and specific problems. Giving them the ability to quickly solve those problems is what gets them trained.
"Speed is power." Says Grant and to show that the world is speeding up, Gary Vaynerchuk in Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook points out that it took 38 years before 50 million people had radios. 13 years for TV to be in 50 million homes and Instagram did it in a year and a half. That's 18 months son! If your company isn't moving forward, it is going backwards.
Joe Verde may be a little right and that "nothing has really changed," that there is no actual modern buyer. There is however and will always be a unique human being who is looking for someone to help him or her make the right decision and solve a problem. A good majority of people want that to happen as quickly as possible. That doesn't mean you stop selling and building value. Customers will and do pay more for a good attitude and a great experience long before they will pay extra for the same car they can get down the street. Sales people truly are the competitive advantage and the more efficiently they can service a client and wrap up a deal the better for everyone involved.
The bottom line here goes back to the Golden Rule: Treat customers with respect, help them efficiently make the right decision, and give them the experience you would want for yourself or your family member.