Things are about to get interesting in dealership showrooms.
By 2020, customers will manage 85% of the buying process online, Gartner predicts. They’ll still come in. Consumers want to see, touch and try, especially when it comes to purchasing a car.
But they may not buy right away. Many Gen Xers and more Millennials visit a store to see a product in person, then go home and complete the purchase online, according to marketing firm Euclid.
Dealership personnel are even more critical than ever, contrary to popular belief. Dealerships should resemble Apple or Best Buy stores staffed by educated sales associates equipped with the right tools. Every moment your team spends with customers will matter. Invest in them now to transform them into product geniuses. Here’s how to get started.
Flashy kiosks may seem shiny and modern, but they’re the equivalent to what Henry Ford called a “faster horse.” Car shoppers have spent hours researching online before even visiting a showroom. They didn’t go to the showroom to do more online research. They went to speak with an expert and see the product.
Kiosks distract the buyer from the product and take control away. If it doesn’t allow a user to save choices to review later, what good is it? No matter how many bells and whistles it may have, a kiosk is static and stationary. It doesn’t deliver what customers really want: a personalized, immersive experience that’s seamless from sofa to store.
Make It Frictionless
Consumers want interactive, informative and exciting experiences. Customer experience is becoming more important than price in many ways. Invest in quality people and transparent software that puts the buyer in the driver’s seat.
Many salespeople believe buyers depend on them less during the buying process. Exactly! Their job is evolving. Today’s salespeople need to do more than facilitate transactions. They need to become product specialists and trusted advisers.
Remove the buying pressure and let the consumer take the lead. Today’s customers still want to talk to an expert; they just don’t want to be “sold.”
Train salespeople to leverage industry expertise and demonstrate a high level of product knowledge, taking the focus off of sales tactics. By the time customers walk into your showroom, they are already more than halfway through the sales cycle. It’s the salesperson’s job to further educate them and confirm their decision about what already has piqued their interest.
Give your sales staff conversational commerce tools that make the process frictionless. Qualtrics says more than half of Millennial shoppers feel store associates lack necessary tools to deliver great customer service. Equip your sales team with software that complements the low-pressure experience that customers receive online.
This can be easily resolved with a tablet and creating a convenient and enjoyable buying environment. Salespeople will have the latest information at their fingertips, and if a customer isn’t ready to buy while in the showroom, they can send checkout links for the customer to finish the purchase later, and in their comfort zone.
Elevate the Experience
Consider your showroom design. It’s not enough to have a beautiful display. You need to elevate the experience, encouraging customers to take action after they’ve left the showroom.
Kia’s Stinger Salons enable buyers to become fully immersed in the product and make connections with the brand. Located in shopping centers to capture more foot traffic, these showrooms exhibit the car and use video displays and virtual reality to enhance the product experience. Shoppers have the freedom to explore, while simultaneously looking, touching and trying the product and the brand.
The bottom line? Customers are demanding smarter, more personalized sales experiences. They want sales associates to act like personal consultants, addressing their challenges and desires, instead of treating them like just another sale. Hubspot says only 29% of customers want to learn more about a product from a salesperson. The rest are getting their information online. Deliver what they want, and you will stay relevant in this new retail landscape.
Aaron Krane is the CEO and founder of Drive Motors, which offers dealerships e-commerce solutions and online buying tools.