It’s Valentine’s Day, and relationships are the topic de jour. Amidst the chocolate, flowers and fanfare, we of course got to thinking about car sales. After all, relationships between buyers and sellers aren’t all that different than dating. Sometimes the sales process is a match-made in heaven, but more often than not, car shoppers just aren’t that into to you.
So we have to ask, is your dealership courting romance or flirting with disaster? We extensively researched today’s buying process, partnering with leading research firm Conifer to understand what motivates car buyers. Not surprising, much of what we learned about how they choose dealerships gets back to the basics of good relationships.
Cars.com training manager Jack Simmons notes that in the age of internet sales, we’ve forgotten the basics of courtship. “We tend to get so caught up in our sales process, we forget to think about things from the consumers perspective.”
Dating Advice from Car Shoppers
Despite all of the excitement of getting a new car, shoppers often feel confused and overwhelmed. Many even dread engaging with car dealers. This doesn’t have to be the case. Here’s what car shoppers want you to know to make for a better experience.
Get to Know Me: In the good old days, I showed up at the lot to explore my options. You could see what I was driving and engaged me in the process with relevant questions that helped you understand my needs. Now that I do most of my homework online, please don’t forget to take the time to get to know me.
When I call and email, it seems like you are just rushing me toward a sale without taking time to understand me. Instead, why not ask me some questions to find out more about my needs? Ask me what I drive now, find out why I am looking to buy, and ask me how to plan to use the car. Not only will you find out how cool I really am, but you just might learn a thing or two that will help you earn my business.
I’m Looking for the One: You may think my mind is made up and assume I worked my way through that silly funnel you’ve built your marketing plan around. Does anybody really shop that way? But the truth is, this is a big decision and I am not going to take it lightly or fall for the first car that catches my eye.
I have a general idea about what I want in a vehicle, but I also know there are lots of fish in the sea. I constantly keep my options open, seeing what my neighbors drive and looking at cars driving down the highway. I am always adding and eliminating options from my list, and I’d be open to some guidance from you. So instead of forcing me into the first car I test drive or call you about, help me find a car that best meets my needs.
Let’s face it – I don’t do this every day and don’t know the ins and outs. I thought CPO was R2-D2’s sidekick in Star Wars, not a more affordable way to get the car I really want with all the benefits of a new car warranty. And I had no idea leasing was even an option for me. With a little help from you, I’ll find my dreamboat and chances are you’ll be the one to get my business. I may even surprise you and buy the nicer model!
I Want this to be Fun: These are exciting times – I’m buying a new car. But somewhere along the way it went from fun to dread. I am spending a lot of money and there are so many decisions to make. I am overwhelmed and don’t want to make a mistake. To top it off, I am not sure I can really trust you. After all, my friends tell me you like to play games.
So, can you help make things a little simpler and bring back some of the joy? Let me get swept away on a test drive, or fall in love with the heated seats. After all, it’s these simple joys that just may lead me to an impulse buy on the day I only intended to check out my options. But please don’t kill my buzz by going to get your manager, or taking half my day with F&I. Bring back the fun.
I’m Looking for a Committed Relationship: Of course I want my buying experience to be great -that’s a given, but I also want to know you won’t leave me after we’ve sealed the deal. When I am shopping for a car, I want to know I am buying from a dealer that is going to treat me right long after sale. And as nice as it is to see shiny, happy reviews from the last 10 people who bought a car from you last month, I really want to hear from your service customers. When I look all over the web and can’t find a single review from an owner whose car you’ve faithfully maintained, it just leaves me to wonder – and I don’t always assume the best.
I’m also sizing up your service department while I’m shopping for a car. Do your customers seem happy, are your facilities nice, is this a place I will want to return to over the long-haul? Let’s face it, we’ll spend much more time together in the years to come for service visits than we will today. So if you seem a little too interested in the here and now, and don’t show me your value as a committed partner, there is a good chance I’ll take my business elsewhere.
It’s Not Me, It’s You: There I was at your dealership with money burning a hole in my pocket. I was ready to buy, but when I arrived at your store there were some serious turnoffs. The car you advertised online, (you know the one I called about an hour ago and you promised was still there), well for starters it wasn’t on the lot when I arrived. I drove halfway across town for that car, and now I’m not sure you ever had it. Can I really trust you now?
I try to move on to other options, but the pushy sales tactics just don’t put me in the mood. As I look up your prices online, I also see they are different than what you are advertising on the lot. Call me a skeptic, but I’m out of here.
Whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, I want to feel special. If you take the time to get to know me, understand my needs, offer me advice and make my experience fun, you just might get lucky and earn my business.