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Personalised processes key to car sales conversion in 2021, opinion

James Hill, managing director of Dealerweb

As we entered lockdown back in March, many dealers would have feared the worst for 2020 but a strong bounce back in both new and used sales through the summer will have gone some way to mitigating the impact of the pandemic.

Data collected from dealers across the country showed in September that new car orders leapt 15%, and used cars increased 10.5% on September 2019.

Enquiries increased by 16% for new cars and 11% for used cars with digital channels continuing to gain momentum. Average sale prices increased by 13% for new vehicles, £31,726 and 4% for used cars to £19,518.

The market is cooling as we head toward Christmas and many dealers will be thinking about what’s in store for 2021.

The overwhelming picture painted by industry bodies and vehicle data companies is that motor retail is in for a tough year in 2021 with the potential to bounce back in 2022.

In an economy facing the challenges of Brexit and a COVID-19 driven recession, it will be likely that demand for new and used cars will be under pressure.

In this environment, it is key to give sales teams the tools they need to operate effectively. With pressure on margins, it will be vital to squeeze the value from every lead.

Dealers have access to the data and technology they need to maximise conversion rates in a challenging market. The laser focus must be to minimise wastage and deliver an exemplary buying experience to every customer.

Buyers are becoming more comfortable conducting more of the purchase process remotely. As a result, the sales call has never been more critical.

Data shows that providing a personalised sales process will improve conversion rates and dealers now have the tools to ensure that every customer contact and preference is logged and available for the whole sales team to use, from wherever they are working.

The old truism is that people buy from people, and it remains the case today. A customer will expect the salesperson to remember every detail of their dealings with the company, from the last service to the last purchase and their favourite colour.

While teams are working from home and in the dealership, it is also vital to have a process in place to ensure customer enquiries are responded to promptly.

Research from Dealerweb shows that 42% of buyers are more likely to complete a vehicle purchase if they receive a response to an online enquiry within 30 minutes. While 30% of buyers said, they expected a dealer to respond in under 15 minutes.

The new data-rich environment of automotive retailing can provide a wealth of insight for the savvy retailer. A better understanding of the customer journey, purchase process and buying trends will ensure that every pound of marketing spend is optimised, and every lead is nurtured.

Real-time analytics and dashboards can give management teams the information they need to make adjustments to optimise operations quickly. A focus in this area will enhance insight across the business and inform mission-critical actions.

Realising the most value from data starts with understanding what data you have, how it moves through the business and is stored, and how it can be analysed and visualised to create insights that can be used in every department.

The road ahead isn’t an easy one but the future of automotive retail is bright, and technology has the ability to bring the salesperson closer to the customer than ever before. It enables the sales process to be tailored in a powerful and unprecedented way.

The opportunity is there, and the industry needs to work together to take it.

Author: James Hill, managing director of Dealerweb

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