You’ve probably heard by now that customers are completing more of the car-buying process online than ever before. Nearly two-thirds of a customer’s total time in market is spent online, according to the 2020 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study, and 71% of consumers want to complete more purchase steps online than the last time they bought a vehicle, according to the 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer & Dealer Impact Study.
As customers spend all this time online browsing vehicles, exploring finance options, and comparing dealerships, they are leaving behind valuable information about their interests, intents, and buying journey stage.
“When customers visit websites like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, they’re leaving behind all kinds of clues on what they’re looking for. But with the sheer volume of data, it’s impossible to parse through all that manually and get to anything useful,” said Chase Abbott, Vice President of Sales for VinSolutions, Dealer.com, and Digital Retailing. “Artificial intelligence, however, can analyze all that data almost instantly. It can use customer data to generate buying signals that estimate where customers are in the buying process.”
Without the right tools, your dealership can’t see customers’ buying signals. And without those insights, you may be losing customers to the competition—before those customers ever submit a lead.
Submitting a lead form or calling a dealership is usually one of the last steps of an online vehicle research process that is on average more than nine hours long, according to the 2020 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study. After that much research, many customers are probably ready to buy well before they submit a form, and their data is probably telling you so.
If you’re not reaching out to any customers until after they submit a form, you’re missing out on a lot of opportunity. And with the total number of shoppers in market still below pre-pandemic levels, that’s probably not a miss you can afford.
To optimize the productivity of your sales team and maximize total sales volume, you need to connect with customers earlier in the shopping process. It’s time to widen your sales net to include all in-market customers, not just those who have submitted a lead. To do that, you need the right tools. Here are a few ways Connect CRM with artificial intelligence solution Connect Automotive Intelligence helps dealerships capture more leads sooner, accelerate the purchase process, and maximize profitability.
Catching Customers Online
Sometimes, finding more leads is as easy as knowing when your current customers are back on your website. Strong integration between your dealership CRM and your website can give salespeople that information in real time and empower them with timely opportunities to follow up with customers while they are browsing.
“The ‘customer back on website’ alert in Connect CRM is a powerful tool in helping you find and prioritize opportunities that might have otherwise been lost,” Abbott said. “If a customer purchases a vehicle from you and they tell you they’re going to keep it for three years, but a year and half later they are back on your website, wouldn’t you like to know that? Wouldn’t you like to know that before they submit the next lead?”
Spotting Buying Signals
CRM artificial intelligence tools do all the customer data analysis heavy lifting to identify customers who are ready to buy before they reach out to your dealership. These tools can tell you not only where customers are in their buying cycle, but also what vehicles they are most likely to buy.
“If you know a customer sent in a lead on a Maxima, but you know from the data that they’re extremely likely to buy an Accord, you might follow up differently,” Abbott said. “You might include information for a couple pre-owned Accords from your used lot in addition to the info on the Maxima they requested, increasing the relevancy and conversion potential of that message.”
Following Up More Effectively
Identifying more leads will only take you so far on the road to more sales; you also need the tools to follow up with customers in a way that leads to better deals. CRM integration plays a critical role in streamlining workflows and follow ups, including integrations with your digital retailing solution, dealer management software, and marketing platforms.
Full data integrations between your CRM and other dealership software platforms, like Connect CRM’s integrations with Dealer.com websites, Dealer.com Digital Retailing, and Kelley Blue Book, help ensure that your sales team is always picking up with customers where they left off, rather than restarting their buyer journey every communication. These integrations also make salespeople more productive by reducing their time spent entering data and correcting errors.