It seems like you can’t turn around right now without someone telling you the future of automotive retail lies within creating a frictionless path to sale for your digital buyers. Marketing folks, website folks, customer experience folks, and everyone in between seem to think the answer to this frictionless path to sales lies in providing an omnichannel experience.
No matter the technology used or how it’s described, at the end of the day, we’re still a business built on people dealing with other people.
We’re setting ourselves up for failure with this model. Here’s why: Pay plans at dealerships drive behavior. If the website says you’ll give a firm trade-in value to a customer, yet when the person calls the dealership, they are told they need to bring the car in for valuation, that’s friction. So how do we create a truly frictionless experience?
We bring the “I” back into the omnichannel experience. We focus on both the one who has to know how to execute (the individual salesperson) and the individual customer who needs a true advocate.
Re-Align Your Dealership for Modern Retailing
While digital retailing is the current buzzword in our industry, I agree with Ron Frey who simply refers to any way of selling to today’s online customer as “modern retailing.” Only after we teach our sales and service staff to meet each individual customer where they are in their own sales journey, will we be ready to really embrace the “I” in omnichannel.
In order to make this business shift, dealerships will need to make three realignments: culture, people, and training.
- Culture Alignment: Be consistent. Your dealership must agree on the customer experience while training staff to meet the customer where they are: over the phone, online, over text. or in the dealership (or a combination of all of these). Managers must follow the same process and address compensation as well. If aligned, then everyone — both the salesperson and the customer — gets their needs met and the result is increased monthly profits.
- People Alignment: Hire right. The traditional problem of salesperson turnover will never allow for a true omnichannel experience. If you use data to appraise a vehicle, you should be willing to use data to appraise new hires. And you don’t have to do it alone. There are companies and processes that are great sources for data designed to improve your employee selection.
- Training Alignment: Train for modern retail. Customers are taking their own journey, interacting with some of your tools but perhaps not others. They will expect to meet a real person who will embrace what they have already done and who will be their advocate. This will require new skills. Your individual salespeople will need to learn how to ask questions about needs and motivations; how to build a plan to move forward with each individual customer; how to positively handle questions or resistance; and how to go beyond CRM to build lifetime value with each customer.
No matter the technology used or how it’s described, at the end of the day, we’re still a business built on people dealing with other people. As a dealership, you can’t afford to ignore the individual players in your own omnichannel. Listen to them and reap the rewards.
David O'Brien is the President and CEO of Quantum5, a first of its kind training and technology company delivering skill development and learning through a community-based, gaming solution focused on higher engagement and retention.