Powersports dealers may not be able to sell online, but they can do more to engage consumers and drive towards a sale. A better buying experience means addressing the needs of the consumer, the dealer and the manufacturer. Given the inventory situation, all three working together is more important than ever. Then, there is the rest of the ecosystem, like how to afford the vehicle (financing) and how to protect the investment (insurance).
Technology can really help create a better buying experience if all parties involved embrace it. Consumers absolutely are open to providing more personal data in exchange for receiving more information before they go to the dealership. We’ve found that it’s a big turn-off when consumers have to enter personal information over and over again. With all of the disparate widgets, getting a quote, getting prequalified and valuing a trade, that can require entering the same information three or more times.
Ask yourself: How many times do you think you should require your customer to restart the conversation in a customer service and sales relationship? We all know the answer is “never.” Customers also want pricing information, and while pricing can be difficult because of customization, with transparency it’s still possible to introduce at least the data that is customer-facing and easily discoverable. For example, are there special incentives available? What would tax and title cost? What’s a typical loan period and amounts? Consumers now expect to have this information and tend not to trust retailers that don’t provide it.
There are certainly challenges that we all understand around sharing and understanding pricing as well as around misinformation. It’s crucial that the dealer connects with the customer directly to discuss the specific configuration options and how that affects final pricing. The dealer relationship is so important to the customer, and today’s consumer is willing to provide a lot of information to understand the implications of what he or she wants on the final price.
PWC did a study that showed that if you provide a great online and offline buying experience, you can command a 16% premium for the same product. Consumers associate technology with the customer experience only when the technology fails. Think about going to an online retailer to make a purchase and the site requiring you to enter the same address for both shipping and billing information. Annoying, right? Consumers are now trained on the “Amazon way,” and when a process does not make sense, the trust potential buyers have in the retailer begins to erode.
More data also allows salespeople to understand how to address a customer’s unique situation. The technology creates a better-prepared salesperson and a friendly customer. When the customer goes into the dealership, you’re not starting from scratch. The dealer can understand the trade the customer has, prequalification status is known, and there’s information about units and accessory options that can be reviewed in advance. This is all part of providing consumers with a modern and better buying experience, leading to a more loyal customer base.
Since COVID, supply constraints and demand went through the roof. A lot of new buyers came into the market. Manufacturers and dealers understand that there will be a time when demand starts to come down and supply goes up. New owners may want to sell their vehicles more often, trade up, etc. The relationship can and should continue beyond the initial sale. Dealers have the opportunity to be viewed as a consultant post-purchase for owners to provide service, trade-ins and more.
Bernie Brenner is the founder and CEO of Rollick Inc., a leading technology platform used by OEMs and dealers to guide the pre-purchase to repurchase customer experience. He was the co-founder and executive vice president of business development of TrueCar Inc., a company focused on changing how cars are sold. His best-selling book, “The Sumo Advantage,” is based on proven methods for identifying, negotiating and managing hundreds of large-scale strategic partnerships.