There are countless ways to research and buy your next car in the digital age.
For auto dealerships to be successful, they need to take advantage of every touchpoint during the sales process. And they can only do that with the right omnichannel automotive CRM platform such as OneDealer in place.
Let’s consider a common car buyer journey and discover how it slides between the online and offline worlds.
The customer discovers the brand, along with its special offers and promotions. They configure and compare different models online, share their experiences via social media platforms and, if sufficiently engaged, decide to digitally book an appointment.
This transitions to the offline world, where they make a traditional visit to the dealership, undertake a test drive and obtain preliminary cost information.
We’re now back online. Following the test drive, the sales associate follows-up the visit with a semi-automated email with additional information. The customer is likely to begin researching more information on both the car the dealership and competition via online review platforms, social media sites or comparison websites. However it’s unlikely that most dealers will be able to contain this digital communication at the interest phase as tightly without a robust workflow-enabled automotive CRM.
If the level of interest is high enough, the customer receives a personalized offer and trade-in value for their existing vehicle, in both digital and written format.
When the decision has been made to purchase, the customer may once again share their experiences of the purchasing process on social media (the excitement of a new car on the way, for instance), while ordering the vehicle. The order confirmation usually happens offline but this trend is increasingly changing towards online.
Connected services and contracts can then usually be purchased online or offline.
It’s often during the purchasing phase when the customer will decide to follow the dealer on social media. This growing online connection to the brand is key for customer engagement and retention.
Once the customer receives and begins driving their new car, they’ll also indulge in the services from the brand and feel safe in the knowledge that they can contact them about any issues and elicit a quick response at any time.
This offline element of the sales journey once again slips into the online world where they again provide their feedback on the purchase process and the initial driving experience.
In due time, aftersales offers and promos begin to arrive from the dealership, which are usually compared by the customer and, if one hits the spot, an appointment can be instantly booked online for servicing. The drivers checks the car in for service at the dealership while remaining in control of the process, communicating digitally with the service team for any issues that may arise, including exchanging photos and other media. The ability to consistently pick up their car at the time and price agreed boosts customer satisfaction and retention increases even further.
The vehicle or lease renewal phase is another chance for the customer to provide online feedback about the dealership and begin comparing potential new options.
This is where we have come full circle, with the customer flipping between the online and offline worlds, comparing, test driving and benefitting from even more attractive personalized offers thanks to being a loyal advocate of the brand.
What happens behind the scenes?
For dealerships to take advantage of the above process and be present when it matters most, they need a digital sales workplace driven by a workflow approach.
These workflows include strategic triggers along the sales journey, the touchpoints of which may include:
- Organic social media engagement and interactions
- WhatsApp, Messenger and other message apps
- The dealership website touchpoints
- The dealership app (e.g. OneDealer MyAccount)
- Google and social paid ads
They also encourage customers to explore additional options and make informed decisions by transitioning between offline and online.
At the dealership, the sales team is empowered by a sales and lead management CRM platform that minimizes response time to leads and helps staff effectively contain the car buyer journey, transforming incoming enquiries into closed deals.
The role of AI
One of the most exciting innovations in car sales is artificial intelligence (AI). Rapidly becoming a core CRM element, AI acts as a powerful assistant for sales teams.
Capable of real-time, predictive planning, AI can help dealerships stretch every dollar within each purchase by suggesting the most profitable deals.
It can look for outlying datapoints, too, thus helping the business uncover lost potential revenue within each deal. Add to that personalized recommendations for sales reps to increase revenue, and AI clearly has a bright future in automotive sales.
Is your dealership taking advantage of the modern sales workflow?