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Recently, I had the pleasure of teaming up with my daughter on her quest to buy her first new car. She’d just landed a full-time teaching gig in Virginia, so she could afford to trade in her used Chevy Aveo for something new. Like most young Millennials, she began the buying process online. She determined which brands, models, and packages she wanted to see and had a general understanding of what she could afford. After much research, we were off to the showrooms.
As someone who has been working in the dealer management system (DMS) business for over a year now, I was curious to see how the selling process has changed, and how technology now shapes the car buying experience.
I must say, I was a bit disappointed. For the most part, the experience was the same traditional process that I went through 30 years ago. At some dealerships, we were met by someone in the lot who listened to my daughter’s wishes and then took us inside to sit and wait while they looked up a few options they could show us and grabbed the driver’s license information. In other cases, the sales consultant left us hanging out in the lot while they went inside to check on the inventory. Only one salesperson took us immediately to the vehicles my daughter was interested in seeing.
In any case, once we were out in the lot, it became obvious that most of the sales consultants were determined that my daughter should take a test drive immediately, and they pushed hard for one. In several cases, the test drive wasn’t even for the exact car she wanted to see, but for one that was “close.” They did not seem to consider that my daughter had a lot of questions from her research or that she was interested in getting those answers first. But she did have questions and she did want answers. When my daughter started asking those questions, if she sensed that the sales consultant didn’t know the answers or was “just making it up,” her instinct was to move on the next store.
From my perspective, the lack of mobile technology to enhance the buying experience was very notable. Many DMS providers offer solid solutions for the Sales and F&I process. With those solutions available, a sales consultant should have been able to meet us in the lot, look up the exact inventory on the spot, and take us immediately to the vehicles we were interested in seeing.
Mobile technology should give salespeople the ability to scan the buyer’s driver’s license and potential trade vehicle VIN number without retreating inside. A salesperson should be able to begin gathering the information needed to move the experience along quickly and efficiently, all without leaving the customer’s side.
For Millennials, this type of streamlined, technology-driven, and personalized process is what satisfies their thirst for information, their desire to feel that they’re being heard, and their expectation that you respect their time. Once this process is achieved, completing sales should be a matter of matching buyers to the right vehicle and payment. And, once again, mobile technology can make that happen more easily and efficiently.
Imagine, during the test drive, being able to discuss different payment options and how they’d impact the monthly payment. Think about how you could be discussing how affordable a higher package could be when spread out over 48 or 60 months while your buyer is behind the wheel, falling in love with the vehicle.
And if interest seemed really high, picture how efficient it would be if you could communicate back to the store for help to begin the trade evaluation process, the search for the best financing, etc. As a result of a faster, more streamlined buying experience, your focus could more easily be on getting the buyer the greatest value rather than the lowest price. The overall result, then: a better buying experience for the customer and a better deal for the dealership.
In talking with other recent auto buyers, I’ve discovered that it seems many dealerships could benefit from an evolution in their selling practices to catch up with the changing industry. Better technology should play a big role in that. What do you think?
For more on how to better engage Millennials and the iGeneration, visit the Autosoft resource center at https://www.autosoftdms.com/resources/.