This is part one of a two part series conducted about the internet customer and how they are changing the selling landscape for automotive salespeople.
When you take anyone out of their natural element, the adjustment is always difficult and sometimes impossible to overcome. This theory holds true in the automotive industry. Internet customers are a misunderstood species to the car salesperson and its dealership.
There are typically two types of customers who shop for automobiles on the internet. You have the customer that wishes to make the most informed decision possible. They want to see every statistic, every opinion, and any other piece of data they can get their hands on before they begin to approach a dealership. Then, once they gather all the information, they then begin the process of emailing dealerships to obtain availability, options, and price.
The second type of internet customer is one that truly has a fear. They are very uncomfortable with the entire shopping and buying process and simply want to get in over with. The biggest problem that dealer have with this customer is that they really don’t want to communicate with the dealership about a car.
There are two major roadblocks the dealerships have with each type of customer. They don’t know which is which and so they assume that the customer is the very informed of the two. That is good from a customer satisfaction perspective. You never want to assume the customer does not know what they are buying. It is also bad from the dealership perspective and this is why.
Because the assumption is made that the internet customer is all knowing, the dealership generally quotes drop dead pricing to the internet customer with their initial response back to the internet lead. This is a knee jerk reaction that is very costly to the dealership. Even if the customer asks specific questions in there email that have nothing to do with price, the greatest majority of time the salesperson still quotes a drop dead price. Capitalism never had it so bad.
The second type of customer, the scared customer hiding behind their computer screen, presents the other daunting challenge for the salesperson and his dealership. They are typically so timid that they either provide incorrect contact information or simply do not respond to emails or phone calls. It makes the deal wonder why they initiated an internet lead in the first place.
Car salespeople function best with a home field advantage, having the customer in the showroom. If they can’t get the customer in the showroom, the next best thing is to be able to communicate over the phone. When this doesn’t occur, for most salespeople, it’s all over. If the customer does not respond to the initial response email from the salesperson, most will give up and a wasted opportunity reveals itself. Salespeople are conditioned to call a customer numbers of times before they give up, but sending more than one or sometimes two emails without a response is a rare occurrence.