3 Steps to Modernize Your Dealership’s Sales Process

April 7, 2016

We’ve spoken at length about ways to modernize your inventory management platform and the types of software that can improve your marketing and merchandising. What about your sales process, though?

Let’s talk about several ways you can modernize your sales process to prepare for today’s digital consumers.

A Better Sales Process Starts with a Prepared Sales Staff

Any updates to your sales process will begin with the people who carry it out. It’s likely that you already tout your sales staff as one of your strongest assets. You tell customers that you have the most professional, the most knowledgeable, and the most personable sales team they will encounter. Your goal now is to make sure that’s the case.

There are two routes you can take when training your sales associates to handle today’s car buyers.

The first involves segmentation.

You might have one person greet people as they walk in the door, one person acting as a product and tech specialist, and another person who accompanies customers on test drives. Then you might have a person who handles all of the financing and paperwork, and finally someone who deals with delivery.

This approach could be attractive for dealerships with a large staff, and it’s important to remember that different people have different strengths. Your employees might appreciate the chance to focus on what they excel at while leaving other tasks to peers who are better suited.

The other approach is to enlist a team of super sales people.

These are people who can do it all, walking the customer through every step of your sales process. They not only know the cars you sell, but they know technology and how best to interact with a modern car shopper.

The super sales person approach likely entails a more intense training regimen and even a more intense hiring process. It will work best for smaller dealerships and premium brands with a smaller selection of vehicles.

If you’re having trouble deciding between these approaches, this article from Automotive News carries both sides of the debate, with ideas from thought leaders Grant Cardone and Joe Verde.

Regardless of what your sales team looks like, your ultimate end goal should be customer satisfaction. Make sure everyone involved in your sales process cares about the customer. Their happiness is your success.

Streamline Your Sales Process for Faster Turnaround

We’ve mentioned customer satisfaction once already, and one of the best ways to satisfy the modern car shopper is to make the most of his or her time.

Remember: online research drives the decision process for 95% of new car buyers today. They’ve already narrowed down their choice of cars, which means they’ve cut out a chunk of your sales process template for you. Instead of launching into the whole spiel about the car, ask the customer what they don’t already know. This shows you respect both their time and their initiative. You can spend less time standing or sitting around and more time on a test drive.

That brings us to the next point: Focus on the parts of the sales process a customer is likely to enjoy and clean up the steps that normally bog people down. Today’s shoppers are more likely to open up and let you get to know them if they’re already sitting behind a wheel, getting a feel for the car they’re thinking about buying. They’ll be less inclined to talk to your staff if they’re waiting 20 minutes for you to find the right key fob.

It’s also important to simplify your F&I management. You can improve the overall flow of your sales process by giving the customer more tools to use online like a payment calculator and a chance to pre-qualify for a loan.

Ultimately, the more you value a customer’s time during the sales process, the more likely they are to value your customer service. That opens them up for chances to return to your dealership for service, maintenance, parts, and, of course, their next car.

Transparent Pricing Gives Customers Confidence

This won’t be the first time we’ve talked about your customers’ needs for transparent pricing tools, but this notion is also critical to modernizing your sales process. When we talk about transparency of this kind, we mean your pricing information needs to be freely available. A customer should know why you’re asking that price for that car.

At this point, most dealers step in to say “But what about our gross profit margins?”

If that’s a concern, it might be time to consider whether or not you’re properly leveraging the data from your region and your market. The kinds of pricing and appraisal software that lets you consult that data is out there, and it’s up to you to implement it. It’s possible to set a price on new cars, used cars, and trade-ins that is the greatest benefit to you and your customers.

As the culmination of your sales process, this is one of the most important steps to get right. It’s tricky, and it might be the hardest part to adapt, but doing so will let you and your dealership reap major rewards.

Hopefully this outlines a path that you can take to start bringing your sales process into clear definition. If you have more questions about this topic, or if you would like to share some of your own experiences adapting your sales process to today’s car buyers, you know who to ask.