A Tin Hat Opinion

Digital Retail is missing something: YOU

Written by Tim Kelly

Written on June 15, 2020

Every car deal involves numbers, the dollars and cents of the deal. When numbers are presented, customers react. This has been happening since the first car was sold. With current automotive digital retail tools, we lose the rudimentary act of gauging a customer’s reactions. Essentially guaranteeing that we will start off on the wrong foot every time. Inaccuracy in the tools ensures that, when the customer arrives at the showroom, we end up with our foot in our mouth.  And, with the clunky, linear “step one, step two, step three.. ” interface, most customers simply give up, resulting in massive abandonment rates. We shot ourselves in the foot. All undesirable outcomes. Really bad day for feet.

About reactions;  often a customer’s first reaction to the numbers is negative. No surprise there.  This is why the good Lord invented professional car salespeople. When the buyer has a negative reaction to the numbers, the sales job truly begins. We have gotten really good at this over the last 100 years.

  • Sometimes the reaction is unexpected: They lay down and buy the car.
  • Sometimes the reaction is predictable: They want a lower payment and more for their trade.
  • Sometimes the reaction is controlled: They require a gurney and CPR, or at least help peeling them off the ceiling

A great sales person monitors the nuances of his customer’s body language, tone of voice, behavior, and demeanor along every step of the interaction. With this insight, he is better prepared to predict which type of reaction is forthcoming – and how to control it. That’s a talented individual who is playing chess; not checkers!

Previously, car dealers performed this silent psych evaluation during the walk around, the test drive, and service walk. This gave us time to chit chat, shoot the shit, and acclimate to the customer’s unique demeanor. Well before numbers were presented, we knew how the customer would likely react.  It’s salesman science. Seriously, we deserve some letters after our names.  Tank Henderson M.B.D (Master Bullshit Detector), or something classier. Whatever.

Back to the first pass. The “he who speaks first loses” pass. Have you ever kicked a green pea under the desk for breaking that awkward silence? If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’re the green pea and you should probably invest in some shin guards – or shut the hell up.

But, BREAKING NEWS, it actually isn’t all about the first pass.

Your likelihood of winning the deal hinges on the second pass presentation. Whether they buy or fly, subsequent passes are like extra credit you earn based on how well the second pass was presented.

We’re masters at this art. We were trained for this. Once we sit a customer down the chances are high we’re closing them!

Now let’s throw a wrench in the cogs. What about online?

With most digital retailing tools we can’t see shit. There’s no arm crossing, eye contact avoidance, feet shuffling, or stuttering. We have no idea what the customer is thinking and feeling.

  • Are they struggling with the money down, with their credit, or is it the payment?
  • Are we not giving them enough for their trade or did we show them more than they expected?
  • Are they nervous about the price?
  • Are they even on the right vehicle?

These are questions that need exploration. It’s nearly impossible to set a customer down the road-to-sale without discovering their wants/needs/desires/fears. The customer also still desperately needs the encouragement from an informed third party, the “pat on that ass” that reassures them, “Yes, this is a great vehicle for you and your family. Yes! Now is the best time to buy it. Yes! You are a smart, informed shopper and are making a wise choice. Yes! You’re getting top dollar for your trade. Yes! You did a great job buying this car!”

We are only human, after all, and encouragement goes a long way. Never underestimate the importance of relationship in sales. People need people. Even now. Especially now!

None of this can be accomplished when we send the customer, ALONE, down a tunnel of linear and sterile processes. The stagnant number on the screen is uninspiring. The vehicle of interest may or may not be right for them. The monthly payment might make no sense to them. It’s probably not even accurate!

And while the customer is braving the icy tundra that is your website digital retail “solution,” the sales team is entirely IN THE DARK.  We are NOT privy to their thoughts and feelings. We have no body language to evaluate. We can’t see the stink face or beaming smile when they see the monthly payment and trade value. The reactions which traditionally inform our path forward are masked behind a screen.

We are using tools that take away the oldest most important part of the car buying process. Then, we are blaming you the dealer, saying that YOUR process is broken and needs to be changed.

We don’t FRIKIN think so.

Speaking of FRIKIN, there is FRIKINtech’s illumiQUOTE built by old-dog car guys that was never meant to be a digital retailing solution, but ended up there. It was built to engage shoppers while making dealers’ lives easier.

It was built with the understanding that reading a shopper’s digital body language is the closest way to reading their physical body language on the lot. And it was built to arm you with the insights you always wanted to know how to make the second pass. By the way, illumiQUOTE automatically makes your first pass for you.

  • What payment are they looking for?
  • What do they want to put down?
  • What do they think their credit score is?
  • Did they think the payment was too high?
  • Did they think we were high? “are you kidding me”
  • What do they really want for their trade?

All of the insights you are used to gathering are now available to you again, online. You now have a competitive advantage again!

IllumiQUOTE Illuminates the way. (that’s why we named it that.) It gives you back the competitive insights other tools have stripped from you. It shines a light on what the customer is thinking and how the customer is reacting.

Now you have your process back along with the insights you need to make your second pass. illumiQUOTE’s job is to present the numbers, shut up, and feed the reaction back to you. Just like we have done for 100 years, but now online.

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