How much of your business can directly be traced back to the internet? 50% maybe? Or is it more like 10% or possibly as low as 3%?
If you exclude internet leads being sent directly to your store, and you add up all your phone-opportunities and fresh walk-ins (assuming you could correctly source every lead), how many do you think originate from the internet?
JD Powers mentioned in a recent article that the amount of pre-purchase in-store visits has declined to roughly 1.8 visits per day. This means that probably over 90% of your customers went online to do some research before they came in to your store. Whether the customer goes onto your website and submits a lead directly or they do preliminary vehicle research via search – customers these days go into the buying process with their guns loaded.
The Game has Changed!
I hear old-school vets say all the time “sales isn’t what it used to be!” or “times are tough, it’s not like it was when I started in this business.”
The overall consensus from them is that customers aren’t “shoppers” anymore, they’re “buyers.” They go online, do their research, check prices and know what and when they’re going to buy. Back in the day, customers had to walk into the store to get numbers and learn more about the inventory – sales professionals could close them then and there using numbers and pure persuasion.
For the most part, that game is dead.
However, I don’t think that makes sales professionals glorified receptionists. If that were the case, you would see more internet and BDC departments working customers cradle-to-grave. However, you don’t see this, because at the end of the day you still need to have the product knowledge and the people skills to close the deal.
It boils down to the fact that sales is still an interpersonal relationship based business. Even though technology might have changed the business model for some, there is still a tremendous value in having a customer like who they’re talking to and feel comfortable with the sales process.
What are your thoughts on the change in the car sales process now versus ten or fifteen years ago? Has the internet helped or hurt your overall sales numbers? How have you adapted your process to cater to Buyers?