by : Aimee Romero
From Digital Dealer Magazine – December 2007
Though most of the people who visit your dealership have first researched online, consumers who actually submit leads online are in a league of their own. These people are at a different point in the buying cycle and should be treated accordingly. To successfully turn Internet leads into sales, there are a few things you should know about online consumers and how to get through to them.
Online leads are often submitted early in the buying process
In other words, online consumers are interested in information first, a purchase later. The J.D. Power and Associates 2006 New Autoshopper.com Study indicates a change in the focus of online car shopping in general; consumers are increasingly interested in finding the right car, as opposed to the right price.
Online consumers use the Internet for research. They’re looking for the right car. When they find it, they will buy. Make sure that sale is yours; walk your Internet leads through the process of finding their perfect car. Let them go at their own pace. Be careful not to jump the gun and ask for a sale too quickly. You want to build trust by listening to their criteria, making solid suggestions, and helping them find a car that works for them. If you keep them comfortable, they’re far less likely to buy from another dealer at the last minute.
Give online consumers what they want
According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 New Autoshopper.com Study, more shoppers are looking to manufacturer sites for the information they can’t get elsewhere. One way to keep your dealership in step with this growing trend is to make sure your web site’s calls to action aren’t all based on “get a quote” or “take a test drive.” Many online consumers would be more interested in submitting a lead if your dealership offered to answer questions and help them find their dream car.
Follow up with your leads quickly
Internet shoppers are not just looking for information on a specific car, but on many cars. They expect help finding the car that best fits their lifestyle and needs. It’s more important than ever to quickly respond to your leads. Because Internet users are reaching out for information, chances are they’re looking in multiple places. The sooner you respond to them with the information they need, the more likely they are to stick with your dealership. Once you are in communication with your lead, make sure to listen and be helpful. Don’t push the sale.
Online consumers shouldn’t be the only ones digging for information. You should help them by doing the same. It’s in your best interest to listen intently to what your consumers are saying. Use the data your web site has collected in their lead submission. Ask questions that will help you determine not only what your consumers think they want, but also what their lifestyle is like. Do they have a family? Are they buying a car for their teenager? Do they primarily drive in the city? Find out about your consumers and their habits. This will help you offer them qualified help while building trust and increasing their comfort.
While price will always be a large factor in decision-making, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 New AutoShopper.com Study, almost three-fourths of online lead submitters do not consider themselves “highly price sensitive.” This is a dream come true for dealers! It’s not about the bottom line anymore. It’s about the relationships you are building with your customers and satisfying their needs.
When you’re gently leading your online consumers to the car that best fits their lifestyle, requirements and dreams, keep in mind that building this relationship will likely result not only in a car sale, but in a returning customer – and consequently, many sales to come.