Automotive Trend Watch: Top 3 Sales Trends For 2020

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automotive-2020-trendsMany of you have been in the industry for years (even decades) and know how quickly things have evolved in recent times – from the shift to digital retailing and the excitement for electric vehicles, the car business as we know it is changing.  

There are several trends that will influence the automotive landscape in 2020, and we’d like to  focus on three that will directly impact your dealership and sales processes and what you can do to stay ahead of the competition.

1. Digital retail sites gaining market share. The used car market has been shaken by digital retailing and subscription sites like Carvana, Shift, and Flex Drive, that allow you to essentially buy a car online without ever stepping foot in a dealership. 

Now yes, the shopper needs to know exactly what they want before they buy  otherwise they will incur a cost for shipping the vehicle back- which can be as high as $1,000 one way!  However, in markets where these companies have distribution channels near the shopper, there is little risk for them to buy a car.  The danger for dealerships is that they then become a test drive lot for shoppers who then turn around and buy from your online competition. . 

Because these online sales sites allow for a more transparent sales process, you’re going to have to be able to provide that as well. This is not to say you need to run to the desk and drop the price over the phone but your shoppers will be more demanding. 

Before discussing price, there are a couple elements that you must include when speaking with prospects.  For one, you need to sell the benefits of doing business with YOUR dealership. For instance, does every sales associate at your store know the selling points and differentiators of your dealership? Each person should – whether you offer free oil changes for life, a full service salon, rental cars, warranties- this is something that every sales associate should be aware of and communicate to the shopper. Also, sales people need to capitalize on hooking the trade and build excitement for that person’s trade-in.  After all, the most important thing isn’t the price of the new car, it’s the bottom line difference between the new car and their trade and keeping the bottom line as low as possible. 

We say that you can always get specific if you have to and the reality is that you will likely have to, just don’t forget the other elements in the call that will provide for increased conversions to your dealership.

2. The move to electric vehicles. OEMs are bullish on EVs and they put their money where their mouth is.  This year automakers committed $225 billion to electrification and (EVs) grabbed 2.2% of the global vehicle market over the first 10 months of 2019 as new models became available. 

At this point, this is still a market for early adopters but will gain traction in urban areas where the  infrastructure, like charging stations, support it.  

As a dealer you and your staff need to be educated on the new technology to provide customers an optimal shopping experience. A recent study found that the electric vehicle shopping experience at car dealers in the US is quite poor and a problem for EV adoption. EV Bite, a news source for the electric vehicle market, demonstrated this when they phone shopped Ford Dealerships to see what sales reps  were saying about the Mustang Mach E. Per Ev Bite, “of the 15 dealerships called, a single sales rep was informed enough to actually hold a conversation. Each initial rep transferred us to someone who was ‘more informed.’ In some cases, the ‘more informed’ rep transferred us for a second or even third time. It was transfer limbo until some poor, relatively uninformed fella decided to take a crack at giving us the time of day. In other calls, the ‘more informed’ staff member was not available, and as such, they couldn’t even attempt to answer any of our questions.”

Remember, your reps need to be trained in knowing what to say and why they’re saying it. If they don’t know what to say or say the wrong thing, you could be losing business, and in this case gain a ton of bad publicity!!

3. Customer service and dealership reputation continue to be important. At the end of the day, people will be inclined to pay more if they know that they are getting exceptional service. That really circles back to the first point— make sure that you’re outlining the benefits of your dealership and provide your team with the proper training so that customers get the same exceptional service at every touch point. 

In addition to having a highly skilled sales staff,  you need to have a solid presence on social media, as well as a process to solicit and respond to reviews online. How many of you check Yelp or Google before trying a new restaurant? Would you go into a place with a two star rating? No, you want to have the assurance that you’re going to have a great experience because many people before you did.   A four or five star google rating can go a long way. As part of your sales process, you should let shoppers know that they’ll get a link to provide a review. Make sure you make it easy for them and include a link DIRECTLY to the review page. The goal is to have the most positive, quality reviews for your dealership.  

Now, when it comes to reviews you need to respond to them online – both the good and the bad.  When you get a positive review, it’s easy to respond and thank the client. Negative reviews are where it gets tricky.  When a person feels SO inclined to get online and write a negative review they’re usually pretty fired up. The best thing you can do?  PREVENT the bad review in the first place by looping in management as soon as you suspect you may have a problem. If you can’t smooth out the issue and they do post a negative review, then you (or your manager)  needs to respond IMMEDIATELY while keeping a very calm and professional attitude. This IS NOT the time to get defensive or into a heated argument! All you need is a sincere apology for how they felt, and a gesture to reach out to them offline so that you can resolve the issue.  Try to get as much information as possible from people who interacted with the customer so that you know what you’re dealing with. You then start to make it right for the customer – if you can.  

Remember, it’s very important to leave the customer feeling good. Today’s satisfied customer is tomorrow’s service customer and a great source of referrals!

We’re excited to start the new year out right and it’s a great time to get your staff the proper training to succeed.

If you’re not a client and want more information please click on the free trial in the notes, send an email to or give us a call at 1-866-996-4665.  Now more than ever it’s important to have a training platform at the forefront of these trends to help your salespeople navigate the changing tides.

Also, if you want training that is real management training join us at Management by Fire march 17-18 in Phoenix.

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