How to Adapt Your Sales Strategy During a Pandemic

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automotive-dealership-covid-19There is no doubt that in todays’ new reality your dealership’s processes have been tried and tested. As various restrictions washed across the states, dealers scrambled to change their sales processes for the safety of their employees and customers alike. While it was unsettling many may argue that this shake up has allowed you to rethink the way you will do business for a more streamlined approach that in the end will benefit your dealership’s bottom line and will make the car buying process easier for the shopper. We need to find some silver linings, right?

The key to succeed in today’s market is flexibility. You need to be nimble and agile to adapt in the changing market which proves a challenge for big and small dealerships alike.  A large dealership is like a ship that needs to change course. It’s not as agile to pivot and turn but because of the size the waves don’t impact it as strongly. Whereas a smaller ship can easily turn each wave hits it with a much stronger impact.

In recent weeks you have had to shift significantly – listening to guidance from your state leaders and adjusting accordingly while simultaneously creating long term plans for your dealership, all while trying to stay afloat. 

This flexibility will be key as you work to meet the varied needs of your shopper based on their comfort level. Will they want to come into the dealership or will you need to do much of the transaction online?  For each situation you’ll need to have a process established so that your team can adapt to individual buying preferences. Before we dive into solutions, think about your customer and go through this exercise below:

The first step is to identify your shopper. 

    1. Were you in an area that wasn’t hit hard by the virus? Check out the Business as Usual method. 
    2. Was the impact of the pandemic higher where you’re located? Look at The Apprehensive Shopper below.
    3. Perhaps you’re somewhere in the middle. The Hybrid Approach may be what you need.

Based on how you answered, find the corresponding method below for action steps you can take to weather the storm.

Business as Usual 

If you’re located in a city or county that hasn’t been hit as hard with COVID-19 cases then you may not feel any disruption to your sales process. People may still be moving about freely and have little concern about the pandemic.  In which case, count your blessings but still continue to take precautions such as wiping down the dealership and maintaining distance with shoppers and co-workers. The fact that they weren’t hit with the virus doesn’t mean that this pandemic didn’t hit hard economically.  The ripple effect of the pandemic has hit the country at different levels. Many have lost their jobs and they will have less disposable income with the rising costs of goods and services.  You will likely be faced with even more price sensitivity and therefore how you handle these conversations will be crucial to whether you’re make a deal or lose a deal.  

The Apprehensive Shopper

This shopperr needs a car, wants  a lower payment or wants to take advantage of dealer incentives but they don’t want to come into the dealership. This is one where you may need to do a lot of the selling online or over the phone. 

The important thing is to let them know that it’s ok and you will accommodate their buying preference and will help them get into a car safely. Reassure them of the precautions your dealership is taking and all of the services that you have to offer a smooth delivery whether they come in or not. Luckily, even your grandmother can now use technology like Zoom thanks to this stay at home order and you can leverage these tools for digital products walkarounds and to review finance terms. Their safety is your priority and your job is to reassure them of that.  

The Hybrid Approach

Like the apprehensive shopper they need a car, want a lower payment or want to take advantage of dealer incentives but they need to touch and feel the car before buying. That’s great and in this market, may be your ideal shopper. 

You should take the time to communicate your dealership’s sanitation and safety processes and assure them that part of the transaction can be done digitally to minimize their time at the dealership. As for the test drive, make sure they know how you clean the cars and the precautions taken to minimize exposure during the test drive. 

Yes, this pandemic has forced a lot of change throughout all industries in our country and in our world. Much of what you’re doing may be a bit of trial and error. However, if you approach it from the vantage point of your shopper and can calm their fears and meet their needs you’ll be on the right course for success. After all, we can’t always control the winds but we can adjust the sails. 

In response to the pandemic we released Covid-19 scripts to help you communicate to your shoppers. Also, our new digital reality course has 29 new chapters on how to meet the needs of the digital customer not to mention new resources to address the reality of COVID-19. Your success is our success so we’re offering a free 30-day no obligation trial.  Sign up here to take advantage of this offer. 

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