With a huge increase in digital marketing methods – social media, email marketing and search engine optimization – and a decrease in the effectiveness of traditional marketing, it’s time that we also re-evaluate methods of sales. What used to work in the “good old days” might just be a thing of the past.
Why do people go online first? It’s quick and convenient. They can browse at their own leisure, and there are no salespeople interfering with the process – a harsh reality, but true. Online browsing also presents the opportunity for your customers to learn about your reputation before visiting your store. Not only is it easy to learn about a dealership and its reputation online, but it’s also easy to judge based on a company’s Facebook page or other social media profile. Dealerships can share information and express personality through social media, and customers can share thoughts and opinions as well. This is relationship marketing in action.
While the physical storefront of a dealership will never disappear, online presence continues to become more and more significant in importance. People are very likely to have already investigated your business and looked at your inventory online before they’ve taken the first step inside your door. Pre-purchase research makes it easier for customers to know exactly what they are looking for. Sales staff should keep this in mind as they approach prospects – an aggressive sales pitch may not be the most viable option. More encouragement, perhaps even with a personal touch, might work a lot better.
Customers’ experience with your dealership – both online and offline – has shifted dramatically. People want salespeople to listen to their needs and connect with them on a more personal level than ever before. Your customers may already have emotional ties to your business from interactions online.
It’s particularly important to consider customers in younger generations. They are much more likely to visit your dealership online and scope out your social media – and they are your future. Word of mouth is a virtual reality with social media, so you want to be sure that your dealership makes a good impression through this avenue. Keep in mind that it’s easy to get a bad review online – it’s simple and quick for people to do so – but it’s equally easy for you to respond or start a conversation, making a good impression on other followers and encouraging positivity.
Our best advice? Think of yourself as less of a salesperson and more of a resource. Instead of focusing only on the sale, try to be as helpful as possible. If you’re able to connect with your customer on a personal level, you’ll be more likely to gain their trust. Help customers feel like you care about them and their needs, rather than just their purchase. Establishing a relationship with the customer is no longer a suggestion in sales – it’s a requirement.
Lauren McLean is the public relations manager for Dealer Spike, a company that provides innovative websites as well as a suite of powerful online advertising solutions that help marine dealers help increase sales and service profitability. For more information, visit www.DealerSpikeMarine.com or call 800-288-5917.