With the current situation facing franchised dealers in the UK, courting every customer is of paramount importance. As we have reported recently many dealershave told of increased showroomfootfall and demand, which because of cost cutting measures introduced at the end of 2008 including many sales and customer facing staff being made redundant, is resulting in many potential customers not receiving attention efficiently. A particular issue which has affected sales people and customers alike in most forms of retailing historically is how much customer contact should be made, for how long and at what point when a customer enters a showroom?
Obviously a lot depends on the customer, some feel frustrated and disappointed if they are not seen immediately and some are scared away if a salesperson ‘pounces’ on them the moment they enter the showroom. It is clearly all about balance, if a customer has done prior research and already knows about the product he may therefore just want to test drive a particular car and get on with negotiating a deal, but there are still many potential buyers who just chance upon a showroom and want to browse and investigate a car at their own leisure.
The art of a successful salesperson is to be able to differentiate between the two types of customer and one scheme currently in operation in the States is the use of actors to present a full screen production of a car demonstration on video, meaning customers who are ‘just looking’ can gather information about a particular model, its spec, features and price in a way which suits without having to feel intimidated by a salesperson. This, on the other hand allows a salesperson to free up time by looking after customers who are in a more advanced part of the buying process. This would effectively buy the showroom staff time at busy periods and allow the customer to obtain info at their leisure, before approaching a salesperson. The US scheme is called ‘I’m a looker’ and involves a PDA device being loaned out to “lookers” which display information on a wide range of products and extras and ultimately builds value in a model before the all important price discussion.
If showrooms up and down the country continue to let sales staff go but still want to encourage more customers into their showrooms this style of car demonstration could well be the answer to selling new cars in the future.
Of course it would require a capital outlay which may negate the redundancies and it may also be the answer to a question that isn’t being asked! However it would be very interesting to see if it would catch on in the UK and what customers would make of it.
This is a sales video from the company marketing this product in the US: