The COVID-19 pandemic and this period of social distancing has forced many dealers to invest in digital retailing and e-contracting tools to help facilitate a remote sales process. As a result, thousands of customers have purchased vehicles from the comfort of their homes. As things settle into a new normal, will the remote sales process fade into oblivion? Not likely.
For many future car shoppers, the ability to buy a vehicle remotely will be a key consideration.
One of the biggest challenges for sales and F&I professionals when working remote deals is keeping customers engaged when they’re not sitting in front of you. With a traditional in-person sales process, customers are most often “hooked” when they are literally sitting in the driver’s seat, where they can see, feel, and become emotionally attached to that vehicle.
But when a customer is on the phone or online, it’s easy for them to become distracted or disinterested. Once they’ve said the magical words, “Yes, I want to buy that car,” how do you keep them engaged until the deal is truly done?
The best way to keep remote customers captive throughout the sales presentation is to respect their time. Simplify and streamline your car-buying process as much as possible.
During the desking process, salespeople are trained to present numerous buying options, such as finance and lease terms. But when a customer is on their own, too many choices on a screen can seem overwhelming. It’s easy for customers to say they need more time. Try presenting only two or three payment options and suggest the one you think best matches their needs.
Don’t try to pitch a half-dozen F&I products over the phone, or via complicated emails with links to product videos. You’re bound to lose the customer’s attention. Pick out two or three of your highest-grossing options, such as the service contract or guaranteed asset protection, and offer those.
If you haven’t already, think about a one-price, no-haggle pricing policy for internet purchases. You don’t want to waste precious time negotiating. If customers feel like they’re not getting the deal they want, it’s easy for them to disengage by not responding to emails, phone calls, or texts.
Additionally, strive to streamline your virtual sales process so the customer only has to interact with one person. Having one contact feels more professional to customers, and customers are more likely to trust a knowledgeable rep who can make decisions.
Ensure the associates who are dealing with remote buyers have the tools and knowledge to complete the sale. Utilizing the previous tips of implementing a one-price policy or pitching fewer products will make it easier to deliver a one-person process.
Completing the sale requires the daunting task of finalizing all the paperwork. If this process is cumbersome or disorganized, it’s very easy for remote customers to become disengaged.
Ask your DMS vendor if they have an electronic document solution, but don’t stop there. Make sure it has a remote signing capability; you can’t be tethered to the dealership. Also look for these key features:
- Signature boxes already set up on the forms to prevent missed signatures and speed up the overall process.
- Ability to save the signing session, giving you the flexibility to suspend the current session to add forms or prep multiple deals in advance.
- Digital deal jacket, or a “package” of all the signed documents that can be emailed to the customer or provided to them on a thumb drive.
- Storage of signed documents in your DMS, which should always be accessible and easy to find via a search by deal or customer name.
You might only get one chance to send all of the necessary paperwork to a remote customer. Therefore, it’s critical to triple check everything to make sure nothing is missing.
Finally, provide your sales and F&I team with continued support and training for the tools that enhance your virtual sales process. For many future car shoppers, the ability to buy a vehicle remotely will be a key consideration.
Anna Puzier is a business analyst at Auto/Mate by DealerSocket, where she uses her decade-long tenure in the automotive industry to develop Auto/Mate's software around the workflow and best practices of dealerships, large and small.