When it comes to buying a car, women have a myriad of choices in both the car and the purchase location. Women’s buying habits differ substantially from men’s, and understanding these differences can make or break a sale. More importantly, if a woman buyer doesn’t buy her car from you, she is buying it from your competitor.
It is easy to make the assumption that price is the first priority in a woman’s mind when she shops for a car. Price does matter, but it is weighed along with other more emotional priorities like trust and respect. In fact, when women car buyers are asked their reasons for purchasing (or not purchasing) at a particular dealership, price is the #2 factor. The top reason for purchasing at the dealership is a positive perception of the sales associate and their level of service.
When it comes to car advertising in the local newspaper, price is featured as the most important factor. Now compare it to advertising for power tools at the local home improvement store. Price is once again the prominent focus. Cars and power tools may be perceived the same by men, but women see more nuance in the car deal. Why is this?
5 Priorities for Women Car Shoppers
- Planning the future. Customer service ranks higher than price because a woman desires an ongoing relationship with the car dealership for the life of the car and beyond. She wants to know that she can bring her car in for service and receive quality work from folks she can trust.
- Relying on dealer reputation. Today’s women do their “homework” to find out about nearby dealerships. A dealership’s web site is the first place to visit when it comes to auto-related web sites. One-third of women have visited the dealership’s Facebook page. Women visit other websites as well, including the manufacturer’s website and sites like AutoTrader.com and Kelley Blue Book. The dealership sites, however, are the perfect place to compare the competition.
- Choosing a dealership. Women visit 30% more dealerships (on average) than men before buying. Six out of 10 women do not purchase at the dealership closest to home. Women are willing to spend more time looking to find what they want. Driving a little farther may net a better deal.
- Making a confident choice. Women may be less confident than men when purchasing a vehicle. When reporting the emotions they feel when buying, being nervous ranks second after being excited. More than half of women bring someone with them when purchasing. While there may be different reasons for these trends, it is clear that women want to know they are making the right decision.
- Trusting the sales advisor. Trust and respect are the top two reasons women report for purchasing from a particular sales person. In this category, price and/or the value of the vehicle ranks sixth. This issue may relate to confidence issues, or trusting the sales advisor may simply make a woman less likely to experience buyer’s remorse.
Your sales approach will benefit from taking all of the above factors into consideration. At the end of the day, price will certainly matter. But given that prices can be matched by another dealer, the other factors of trust, reputation and helping a woman feel confident about her deal become even more important during the sales process.
Making Your Dealership Exceptional
Here are 4 tips to ensure that your dealership’s sales approach doesn’t fall into the “power tool sales” category.
- Your advertising should sell more than cars. To make a buying decision, women look at car ads, read dealer reviews and use social media. Do your ads only talk about price? If so, consider spending more time conveying your reputation for excellent service and trustworthy deals. Be the dealership that attracts women buyers because they can get a great deal from a trusted, respectful sales advisor AND great service for the next five to eight years.
Let your customers know that they matter before, during and after the deal. Include reviews by women on your website and social media. Provide stories about happy customers. Show women that your service center is professional, fast, and trustworthy. Show the amenities that matter to women, like a comfortable place to wait, service hours that respect her time and extra services that invite her business for years to come.
- Learn to read, understand and respect women’s emotions. Be sure your sales advisors understand that women aren’t just price shopping. Provide training for your sales associates and service center personnel that educate and inform about what really matters, like trust and respect. Teach your employees how to read your customer’s body language and responses. Learning body language will teach you if your customer is engaged in the process. (e.g., folded arms, stiff body and curt responses probably mean the conversation is not going well). Let your sales associates know that listening is the most important thing they will do during a sale.
- Know your product and be ready to answer challenging questions. For women, a car is much more than a way to get from point A to point B. Women will do their research before visiting your store. Be ready to listen to a woman’s needs and have truthful, knowledgeable answers ready. If you don’t have those answers, the dealership down the road will.
- Be prepared to sell your dealership, too. When a woman signs on the dotted line and drives away in her new car, everyone at your dealership should perceive this as the start of a relationship. Provide follow-up communications to be sure she is happy with her purchase. In addition to the standard CSI form, give her a call to be sure everything is okay. Make sure she has the contact information for the GSM and let her know you really want to hear from her if she has comments or questions. Creating a good relationship during the sales process is the best way to ensure a woman will return to have her car serviced.
Good business relationships require ongoing effort, so your deal isn’t done when your woman buyer walks out the door. Stay in touch with your new car buyer with more than a service reminder postcard. Offer special deals to her and her friends to keep them coming in. Discounts on oil changes with a free gift, a gift card, or two-for-one offers for a friend are perfect ways to remind her about your dealership and recruit new business from her friends and family. When your woman customer does return, make sure you cater to her needs by offering things that really make a difference in her life. Think about ways to create a convenient experience, including a loaner car for extended service times, expanded service hours and a quiet service waiting area where she can relax, exercise or conduct business.
The most important take home message from this article is to remember: when selling to women, don’t assume anything. The world of women’s car buying is changing continually. Nearly 40% of women out earn their husbands. Women now buy more than half the cars and are involved in more than two-thirds of car buying deals. When a car is scheduled for service, it is most likely a woman who is doing the scheduling. Changes will continue to happen at a rapid pace. Understanding the criteria women use to make decisions about their vehicles is critical to increasing sales to this important market segment.