Few things go together as nicely as digital retailing and the Digital Dealer Conference. This is where automotive professionals go to learn about the practical application of technology, after all, and there are few solutions as practical or effective as digital retailing when it comes to connecting the online and in-store buyer’s journey. And sure enough, a standing room-only audience of dealer principals, managers and sales associates crowded into the Cox Automotive Digital Retailing session at this week’s Digital Dealer 21 Conference in Las Vegas, ready to snap pics of screens, ask questions and jot down tips from speaker Mike Burgiss — Cox Automotive’s Vice President of Digital Retailing.
From the start, they wanted solid application strategies they could take back to their dealerships. Theory simply seemed uninteresting, compared to discussions about executable techniques they could apply to their workflows. Indeed, questions after the session revolved around how to apply sales techniques into this emerging digital world of retail. Burgiss could have spoken for another hour about ways to establish that all important connection with the customer, and how to optimize the experience. At the end of the session, however, three topics emerged as key to the conversation:
“Computers Don’t Sell Cars. You Sell Cars.”
It’s a simple fact of automotive retail, yet one that seems overlooked amid all the talk about the changing face of the business. “There’s a lot of energy around the idea of buying a car online,” said Burgiss. “You know – click a button and put a car in a shopping cart. But it just doesn’t make sense. The idea of skipping the dealership to buy online – that may be okay for a very small percentage of people, but the reality is that for the vast majority, the actual showroom is just as much a part of the experience as online.” The point? Tools may become refined, new solutions may be more powerful, but the relationship between salesperson and consumer must be as strong or stronger than ever. As efficient as technology makes the process, it lacks the human touch on which credibility, loyalty and the actual sale is built. Technology helps shift the emphasis of the experience away from the hassle and toward the founding of a positive relationship.
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