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Jared Hamilton
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4 Ways Dealerships Can Sell More Cars by Bringing in More Customers

As game-changing as the Internet has been for dealers, the best way to sell more cars at a dealership continues to be getting more customers in the door and onto the showroom floor. In this article, automotiveMastermind covers four ways to increase customer traffic at your dealership:

- Have the vehicles they want and make them easy to find 

- Target prospects who have never stepped foot in your dealership

- Use personalized marketing messages to contact prospects in the most effective manner

- Provide a great customer experience to help encourage dealership loyalty

Have the vehicles customers want and make them easy to find

It may seem simplistic to say that the best way to increase car sales is to have the cars on hand that people want to buy, but it’s surprising how many dealerships aren’t successful at this. It’s critical to have a varied inventory, because today’s Internet-enabled shopper is going to be able to find a dealership that has the trim package they want on their lot and you’ll have lost the chance at a sale.

This, of course, also gives you the opportunity to be that dealership. One of the lowest-effort conquesting options you have to get someone onto your lot is simply to make sure as much of your inventory as possible is listed on the third-party sites where people browse for cars in their area. This is especially useful when it’s integrated into the responsibilities of a well-run Business Development Center team that is focused on connecting with Internet leads and turning them into sales appointments that get those new customers in the door and engaged with the sales team.

Target prospects who have never stepped foot in your dealership

It’s simple math, in a way: If you want to increase customer traffic through your doors and sell more cars at a dealership, one of the best ways to do so is to bring in new customers who haven’t been there before. Loyalty is critical (we’ll get to that in a moment), but growing the business requires identifying new dealership leads and converting them into hot prospects who are standing next to the car, talking to a salesperson.

For almost a century, dealers largely did this through advertising and direct mail. Dealers used “spray and pray” marketing and advertising messages to broad consumer demographics in their markets that they believed were the most fertile ground for the cars they were trying to move. 

Today, through data and analytics-based marketing, dealers can move from marketing to demographic groups to personalized marketing. This involves using a combination of proprietary and publicly-available databases to identify and score potential prospects as dealership leads, using a system that constantly learns from your real-world results to improve its ability to pick out the best prospects in your market and develop an individualized marketing campaign to get them in the door.

This leads us to:

Use personalized dealership marketing messaging to contact prospects in the most effective manner

Personalized marketing means contacting the right person, with the right message, at the right time and in the right format.

Once your predictive marketing tools have identified the prospects in your market who are the highest-quality dealership leads, the focus turns to using what you know about those prospects to get them in the door. It starts with putting together the right offer components, with the right vehicle and terms to fit their situation, based on data from a variety of sources. It involves not only using the right channel – direct mail, digital or otherwise – but also a cadence of touchpoints and connections that is appropriate for where they’re showing themselves to be in the sales cycle and that changes with their interactions – or inaction.

When you connect to the most qualified prospects with messaging that is relevant to their unique needs and circumstances, the results are higher response rates, increased customer traffic to your dealership and ultimately increased sales at a much higher ROI.

In today’s marketplace, consumers don’t view personalized marketing as an intrusion when it’s making them an excellent offer on a product they truly want. Great personalized marketing is a solid foundation for the broader customer experience they’ll have with your dealership, and the start of a relationship that can pay dividends for years to come.

Provide a great dealership customer experience to help word of mouth and encourage loyalty

Today’s consumers have been trained by analytics-driven companies like Amazon and Netflix to expect you to know just as much about what they want and need – and maybe even more – than they do. Ironically, the transformation of the American business landscape by data and artificial intelligence has increased consumers’ expectations that they will receive personalized, human service from the companies with whom they’re doing business. And when that business involves the largest purchase they’re likely to make that year (or more), they are holding dealers to a customer experience standard that many traditionally-successful dealers are failing to meet.

Dealers have long understood that their customers care about the totality of their experience. That’s why they’ve invested in everything from free coffee in the service waiting area to major showroom upgrades. But in today’s economy, truly impactful customer experience – often abbreviated “CX” – goes beyond having a baby changing area or service satisfaction follow-up call.

The kind of dealership CX that makes a true difference in building loyalty, increasing your word of mouth and improving your bottom line requires you to arm your team with meaningful information and insights about the customers with whom they are interacting. Your customers consider themselves to have a relationship with your dealership as a single entity, and expect the dealership to return the compliment by treating them as a valued customer in every department, even when they’re interacting with a new team after only ever having been a sales or service customer in the past. In most dealerships, it’s the gaps and handoffs between departments that cause the greatest CX frustrations that degrade loyalty and can ruin a multi-year relationship in moments.

Can your dealership use some help in getting more customer traffic through the showroom door? Contact us today to learn how a data-backed automotive sales platform can help identify and convert the best prospects in your market.

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