By Michael Renaud, CEO, Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions
In this blog, I would like to talk about everything used cars. Lots of the dealerships I talk to are seeing an uptick in sales calls and leads in general. But all we’re hearing lately is that shoppers are skeptical and wary, the buying timeline is longer, and they are not willing to pay what they were just a few months ago for a used car. Interest rates are climbing too, which has created resistance, more objections, and even more challenges for salespeople.
According to J.P. Morgan, used car prices have likely peaked, but new car prices are expected to remain high. In 2023, prices are expected to decline by roughly 10% for used cars and by 2.5% to 5% for new cars.
The upside is that people are still buying cars and the preowned market is still hot with retail buyers. In fact, today’s car shopper is 3X more likely to respond to a used vehicle ad they see online, versus a new one. So, people are still buying cars. The question is, will they buy from you?
At the end of the day, these are the four things that today’s preowned shopper REALLY wants when dealing with a salesperson:
Someone They Like
3-4 hours is a really long time to spend in a dealership with someone you didn’t even like on the phone. According to Cox Automotive’s 2022 Car Buyer Journey Study, buyers are frustrated with the amount of time required to complete the process. The time spent in the vehicle buying process jumped significantly in 2022, with the typical vehicle buyer reporting the process took 14 hours and 39 minutes, up from 12 hours and 27 minutes in 2021, an increase of 18%. Time spent online shopping and researching vehicles increased by more than 1 hour compared to 2021, while time at the dealership increased by approximately 20 minutes.
By the time your shopper has decided to contact your dealership, they’ve already done hours of research. They know that prices are higher than usual, and they know that interest rates are high. By the time they decide to reach out to you, their anxiety level may be above normal first impression is everything. Whether on the phone or online, they’ll decide if they like you within the first few moments of the call. Don’t we all do the same?
Someone to Guide Them
Buying a car can be fun, but those first steps can be rough for somebody who does not understand all of their options. People want to work with reps that are confident and competent. They want someone that will take their hand and guide them through the process. Don’t be afraid of speaking transparently with shoppers. Even when the news is not good. Don’t shortcut your sales steps either. Ask prospects for their permission to ask them a few questions. The benefit to them is the assurance that you are all on the same page.
Someone to Inform Them
Salespeople often forget that shoppers only buy a car once every few years. We become numb to the experience of “buying a new car,” and forget to slow down for the customer. When a prospect reaches out to you, don’t assume they are 100% set on one thing or another.
How often do we see a shopper switch sedan to SUV, from SUV to truck, from dead set on white to black on black. Be informative and enlighten your shopper with the choices. Offer to help them with pointers, tools, and tips from the pro – you!
Someone That Offers a Solution(s)
In the end, most people want solutions. And not just the solution that works best for the dealership. People like having choices and offering prospects different solutions is something that will appeal to them. Perhaps they’re upside down on their trade, or their credit is in the tank right now. Maybe their teenager will be driving soon, or you have a single mom looking for help with the best value. Maybe they just need help finding the perfect car. Most people just want someone to take them by the hand and say, “I got you! I understand and I am happy to help.”
Remember why you are in this business in the first place. There is something special about you that makes you a great salesperson. Showcase those special talents. Right now, it is the time to hone in on those fundamental things and master them. Don’t let the moment’s circumstances determine your outcome! At the end of the day, we are still human beings serving human beings.
About the Author
Michael Renaud is the CEO of Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions. With expertise in BDC Structure/Management, Sales Management, Fixed Operations, Marketing, buy/sells and Operations, Michael has worked for both franchised and independent dealers. He brings his breadth of experience across the dealerships to help clients improve their bottom line results.