Buying a car is a big decision. Other than buying a house, it’s the biggest purchase most of us are likely to make.
And for the majority of people, that purchase is also an emotional one – no matter which brand and model of car is your preference.
Why, then, are most cars marketed in the same way?
And even worse, why is the experience in so many dealers the same?
For me, never more so is this the case than at BMW. In my opinion, so bad is the BMW dealership experience that I coined the expression “Driving a BMW might be the ultimate driving experience, owning one is anything but!”
And that’s one of the reasons why, when I replaced my car, I moved to another brand.
But what can we learn from this?
- Don’t ask female customers if they can make a decision without their other half – it’s demeaning and insulting. One sales rep actually told a friend of mine she was lying!
- Don’t be arrogant – no matter how prestige your product is, the customer experience is still important. And never make the fatal mistake of pre-judging a customer’s potential to make a purchase. I have heard so many stories about car dealerships who dismissed someone based on their appearance, only to have a “Pretty Woman” moment, when the customer returned in an even more expensive car paid for in cash!
- Understand your customers and recognise they are different – the same approach will not work for every customer, and it is your job to understand that and deliver the right approach for your customer
- Consider stepping outside the norms for your industry – female sales reps in car dealerships are still quite rare, but would undoubtedly make most female car buyers feel more comfortable – what could you do differently?
- Know your products and features – when the customer asks what colour options are available, what engine size etc – you should have the answer, don’t expect the customer to read through a load of literature
- Make your literature user friendly – most customers do not need or want detailed technical specifications, they want to determine what features are available in layman’s terms
- Don’t hound the customer to make a decision – pestering a potential customer to make a purchase is not the way to get them to buy from you. By all means follow up, but not in an aggressive way. Why not have something interesting to send them, or a specific reason to call, rather than making someone feel pressured
- Remember the importance of post purchase dissonance – and understand that the greater the value of the item, the more anxiety is likely to be felt – what can you do to reassure your customer they have chosen well to buy from you?
- Swift delivery – so often in the car world there seems to be quite a gap in time between agreeing to the purchase and taking delivery, which only increases concern. The sooner the customer receives their purchase the sooner they can start enjoying it – and telling everyone what a good experience they have had
- Don’t forget after sales – in the car industry the pain can often continue with the customer’s experience of dealing with the service department – make sure your after sale care, and any additional services the customer may need, are handled well. You want a customer for life, not just for the sale.
I believe the snake oil tactics of car marketing and sales are old fashioned and outdated. In today’s world there is a better way.
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