While the car is the star of any sale, don’t underestimate the role of process. In fact, your ability to follow the procedures you’ve outlined to work with car shoppers is often what keeps them on track to buy from you rather than your competitors. Let’s take a look at a few of the most effective tips that helped dealers like you close more deals in 2007.

Provide a Timely, Accurate Response

Dealers with the highest close rates tell us that they reply to prospects’ inquiries within an hour and stay in regular contact throughout the shopping process. The idea is to begin building a relationship with car buyers as soon as possible and quickly establish yourself as the dealer best able to ease the transition from the web to the store and guide them to the right car. In fact, a recent Capgemini study[1] found that a significant percentage of customers who do not receive a response to their inquiry within 4 hours will go someplace else to make their purchase. The problem? A similar Cobalt study[2] concluded that dealers take an average of 5.4 hours to reply.

Offer Options

When shoppers contact you about one of your listings, they’re looking for you to help them determine whether it’s a good fit. They’re also giving you a chance to bring to their attention other cars in your inventory – an opportunity that increases your likelihood of making a sale. When prospects ask about a new car at your store, for example, include in your response information on at least two other vehicles: a similar manufacturer-certified used model and a similar used model that offers the features they want but can save them money. This approach positions you as a professional committed to helping buyers find the ideal match and sets you apart from the “order takers” with whom they may be working. It also provides the basis for an ongoing conversation with the shopper and, going forward, casts you as the dealer to beat.

Give Every Lead its Due

If you work in a franchise store, you know just how much of your store’s budget – and your time — are invested in new-car leads. While it may be tempting to concentrate your efforts on the ones you believe are most likely to close, you’re better served by following your store’s processes with every inquiry you manage. Not only is a lead impossible to judge on its surface, but the loss of a few minutes of your time pales in comparison to the cost of a lost sale and the potential for repeat and referral business when you guess wrong.

Process plays such a critical part in the sale of a vehicle that it’s difficult to overstate its importance. One of the reasons that it’s so essential is that it gives shoppers a glimpse into the future: If this is how I’m treated, what treatment can I expect as an owner? Pass the audition, so to speak, and you might win the deal and be called back for repeat and referral business.

Additional Resources
Looking for additional tips you can implement in your store today to drive more traffic with your online advertising and desk more deals with your internet sales processes? Check out Cars.com’s DealerCenter. Here, you can read previous editions of our DealerADvantage newsletter or listen to archived recordings of our DealerADvantage LIVE webinar series.

[1] Capgemini: Cars Online 06/07: Understanding the Dynamics of Consumer Buying Behavior and Customer Loyalty

[2] 2007 Cobalt National eMystery Shop