In car buying, whether new or used, habits have certainly changed for today’s consumer. This has largely been driven by the net but also by change itself; from the perspective of how car dealers wish to be viewed by their customers.
The days of putting a few lines in the classifieds and having a half page spread in the motoring section of the local rag have, although not vanished completely, been replaced by a much slicker more customer centric notion of providing far more information before the point of enquiry.
In the old days sales execs were taught to give nothing away just make the appointment, “test drives sell cars” was the mantra.
An old sales manager I knew if he heard his sales execs getting into a dialogue with a prospective customer he would go mad and say “just get them down here!” In other words, the more info you give them over the phone the less likely they are to need to come down and be sold to.
There is some truth in this because he did have some success with this policy because customers had no alternative. Today however, in many cases, car buyers will no more about the car they are interested in than the sales exec because, let’s face it, it’s your big pile of money so why leave it to chance and rely on the opinion of a sales exec who in some cases is hardly out of nappies.
Now of course at this point we have to acknowledge that MTI has a vested interest in car buyers doing their research on both the cars and the possible pitfalls of buying a car in today’s market, and by using the pooled knowledge and expertise of a growing band of insiders we hope that if we can help customers make an informed choice based on the advice we give then happy days.
But more than that there is now no need to ever feel like there are no alternatives. Car dealers today are only too happy to provide multiple images – and in some cases videos – of their cars along with detailed descriptions which often accompany third party reviews.
Because of the power of the net, and specifically the classified online ads, car dealers have to be competitive and as a result prices are reviewed regularly to ensure that cars get the required amount of ‘clicks’ to generate a sales lead and the possibility of converting a click into a visit.
So the customer can sit back and monitor the cars they are interested in safe in the knowledge that cars will eventually find their optimum selling price and today’s sales manager will be genuinely happy that buyers are armed with the knowledge and information before they visit the showroom as it makes the sales job that much easier.
In theory if the car buyer has done all the hard work first by the time they arrive at the showroom they should be a lot further down the road to making a decision than perhaps they would have been back in the old days.