Imagine a customer strolling into your dealership, and you launch into your sales pitch. You do all of the things you were taught: establish rapport, guide the conversation, handle their objections and paint the need. You’re feeling good, until the buyer throws out a curveball.
“The dealership across town offers incentives on newer models. What do you offer?”
The truth is, a lot of sales pros have been taught not to worry about the competition. I can practically hear it now: “Just ignore your competition. Your product is all that matters.” The problem with this notion is that it’s an outdated theory rooted in 1950s ideology. Customers didn’t know that much about the competition back then, so it didn’t much matter if sales pros didn’t have a handle on it.
Back in the old days of car shopping, customers would go on lot tours, visiting a handful of dealerships to check pricing and get a feel for their stock. Nowadays, the vast majority of the research is done online. Customers visit an average of 1.9 dealerships before making a purchase. Think about that. A huge percentage of customers visit a grand total of one dealership before buying.
That means you might only have one crack at a buyer, and the easiest way to send a customer to the competition in this modern sales climate is to ignore the competition altogether.
Now customers use technology to research. And so should you.
The first step is to make sure your online presence is informative, attractive and succinct. Since so much research happens solely online these days, you need a website that packages a ton of information in an aesthetically pleasing way. The auto industry is unique in that customers shop online and buy in person, so you need to have a smooth transition from your online presence to what your people see on the showroom floor.
Even still, the real meat of the sale still happens face to face. One thing I know about the 21st century car shopper is that if they’re looking at your website, they’re also looking at other sites as well. If you ignore that because you don’t want to bring up the competition, then I promise you’re missing out on sales.
The biggest key to running toward tech as a sales pro is to do your research. Imagine you’re a customer and put yourself in their shoes. Shop the competition. See what incentives they’re offering that you might not be. Make note of them. If you talk to a debate coach, they’ll tell you to know the opposition’s argument so you can more effectively argue against it. In sales, that means knowing the perks your competition is offering so you can direct the conversation the way you want it to go. Remember, you’re always in control.
So here’s an example. Let’s go back to our intrepid customer asking about incentives at the dealership across town. A sales pro who hasn’t studied the competition will be left twisting in the wind. A sales pro who has studied the competition can say, “Here’s why they’re offering that incentive. We choose to put our savings into other areas because it has more benefit to you at the end of the day.”
To put it simply, the more you know about your competition’s incentives, the more you know about how what you offer can better improve your customer’s life. And the advancement of technology makes this easier than ever.
Your best bet is to assume that your competition is innovating all the time.
A great way to do this is to put together a competition binder. This includes things like your own pricing as compared to your three biggest competitors’ on similar products. You never want to be in a position to lower your prices or offer your customer more incentives to buy. The easy way to handle the competition is to just throw out more discounts to sweeten the pot. The best way to handle the competition is to know what their incentives are, understand why they’re offering them, and then sell against them with what you already offer.
The key is to not be afraid of the competition. Focusing on the new frontline for auto sales is of course key. Things like social media promotion and website design are as important as ever. But don’t forget that using every technological resource at your disposal on the back end is just as important.
Your best bet is to assume that your competition is innovating all the time. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. Do your research, know the competition as well as you know your own company, and get ready to unleash your sales.