10 ways dealerships can maximise their Sales Departments during lockdown

The last few weeks of lockdown have been challenging for dealerships as showrooms were forced to close as a result of the pandemic. While there is optimism for pent up demand when showrooms reopen, there are actions you can take now to maximise sales for when your doors reopen.
10 ways dealerships can maximise their Sales Departments during lockdown
1. Keep generating leads
While your showroom is closed and you cannot facilitate in-person vehicle demonstrations or test drives, you should still focus on generating leads for new and used car customers. Customers are spending more time researching their next car purchase online so it is important to stay front of mind. Focus on high quality targeting tactics and in-market customers and maintain communication so that you can more easily convert when your showroom reopens.
of consumers are more likely to complete steps of the purchase process online due to COVID-19
Source: 2020 COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study, Cox Automotive
Online consumer behaviour has significantly changed in recent months with far more people now comfortable transacting online.

The pandemic may have also changed car buyer's preferences when it comes to model, budget or finance so it is important to analyse your website and online stock to see what vehicle types are trending. Look into the most popular makes, models, years and price ranges and create targeted advertising based on this data.
2. Demonstrate the delivery process
As showrooms are closed, customers may assume that your business is not actively trading. Make it clear through your online channels that you are open and available.

For those delivering vehicles directly to customers, operating 'Click & Deliver' under government guidelines, it is important to clearly communicate the full range of steps taken.

Many dealerships have successfully illustrated this message through the use of video showing each step of the process from start to finish. It is important to highlight your money back guarantee for peace of mind and all safety measures that take place in advance of handover.
3. Increase remote support
While your dealership remains closed, you should double down on your efforts when it comes to remote communication and customer support.
Make sure that you respond to customers quickly and at each touchpoint; phone, website, live chat and social media - it is important that you remain ready to help current and future customers. Focus on real time communication via Messenger, Whatsapp and others.

Additionally, look at how you can provide an improved online customer experience. Increasingly, consumers want to complete the more transactional elements of their car purchase remotely such as; digital paperwork and applying for finance. Start these processes remotely so that you can continuously engage the customer through to sale when the time is right.
    4. Humanise the customer experience
    With remote communication the only available option to dealerships as a means of communicating with customers, it is important to make the experience as interactive as possible. For all communication; live chat, video, email and phone, focus on individual team members and reiterate the one-to-one support available.

    Personalised videos have proved particularly effective in recent months as showrooms were forced to close. Personalised pre-recorded videos in response to initial enquiries, live vehicle demonstrations and follow-up videos can result in high success rates when it comes to sales closures.

    Adapting to a new remote sales process by enhancing the personal element of the transaction will maximise your sales team's ability to close.
    5. Direct consumers to finance options
    COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of eCommerce amongst dealerships with many now offering full end-to-end online car purchase functionality.

    Streamline the finance process with a focus on user experience, seamless applications, live support and fast approval. Consider also integrating a payment calculator to allow the customer tailor their monthly finance repayments against their desired model.

    If online finance is not an option for your dealership right now, inform customers that you are able to take deposits quickly and securely over the phone and significantly increase your likelihood of closing the sale.
    6. Promote offers available
    While many customers have increased savings during lockdown and therefore may have increased disposable income, many will be shopping around and will expect deals as a result of the pandemic. Promote your existing offers across your various platforms in a targeted manner.
    The most popular steps of the online car sales process
    Customers are increasingly open to completing the sales process online
    Apply for finance
    Find information on offers
    Schedule a test drive online
    Payment calculator
    Receive a trade-in offer
    Source: Cox Automotive (US): 'Digitization of end-to-end retail Jan 2021
    7. Highlight customer reviews
    As more people are browsing online and potentially considering a new car purchase this year, it is important to highlight your level of customer service. As the online space is becoming more competitive for dealerships, stand out by sharing your levels of positive customer feedback across your various channels.
    8. Upskill sales team
    With sales staff finding themselves with more time due to showroom closures, consider offering enhanced remote sales training. From lead management and negotiation to remote selling and product training, keeping sales staff up to date and engaged will support them in their return to the showroom floor.

    In the future, these skills will be in more demand and dealerships will focus their recruitment efforts on increasingly digital savvy candidates.
    of franchise dealerships will place greater emphasis on hiring digital skill sets in the future
    'Digitization of end-to-end retailing,' Cox Automotive, Jan 2021
    9. Reiterate safety measures
    Many dealerships have invested heavily in enhanced sanitisation procedures. Explain to future showroom visitors the safety measures that you have taken to ensure that your showroom is a safe environment, from sanitisation and hygiene to social distancing and vehicle preparation. If you are operating 'Click & Deliver', this is even more important.
    10. Back to basics - the phone
    While your focus now may be on improving your dealership's digital capabilities, it is equally important to make sure your basic forms of communication are running smoothly. Your dealership is likely receiving a high number of calls from customers for sales or aftersales queries. As standard, make sure that your calls are answered quickly and diverted to the correct person as efficiently and professionally as possible.

    Consider improving your call functionality with a cloud-based system so that you can:

    1. Recover lost opportunities - quick missed call return
    2. Track sales calls and improve sales performance
    3. Measure online and offline campaign effectiveness
    4. Track lead generation from publisher and other used car websites

    For those customers who are considering a new purchase or enquiring about a future sale, it is important that you offer a consistently high level of customer service while your showroom is closed, so that customers will return when you do reopen your doors.
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