What AI Really Means for Car Dealerships

Automotive retail has changed a lot this year, and it has changed quickly. Your customers are completing more of their car-buying journey online than ever. 66% of consumers want to do more purchase steps online than the last time they bought a vehicle.1

As your customers research and browse online, they leave behind valuable insights about what they are interested in and where they are in their buying journey. These kinds of insights can be incredibly powerful tools for prioritizing tasks and accelerating the path to purchase, but only if you can access them.

Most dealerships don’t have the time, resources, or expertise to manually mine customer data for insights. But ignoring all the customer data in your dealership software platforms means ignoring a good chunk of shoppers who could be in your sales funnel.

The good news is that artificial intelligence (AI) can do the heavy lifting for you. As customers do more and more online, AI’s benefits to dealerships are significant. And they are attainable with the right tools, teams, and support. Here are three key ways you can expect implementing the right AI solution to impact business and the bottom line (for the better).

1. Create Additional Revenue and Increase Sales

For many car shoppers, submitting a lead is the very last step of their research journey. It is often the culmination of the average nine hours2 they spent browsing on dealership websites and third-party sites like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book. This means that many customers are actively in market well before they hit submit on a form or call your dealership. And if you don’t have an AI solution, you’re missing out on opportunities to connect with those in-market shoppers sooner – before they reach out to a competitor.

AI analyzes and aggregates online browsing data and lifestyle data to flag shoppers whose activity indicates that they are ready to buy – before they submit a lead – and inform the salesperson about what inventory they will respond to. Connect Automotive Intelligence, VinSolutions’ artificial intelligence tool, combines data from your website, Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, and thousands of third-party consumer data sources to deliver insights on a customer’s likelihood to buy, as well as the vehicles they are most likely to be interested in.

In fact, consumers classified as “ready to buy” by Connect Automotive Intelligence were nearly 10.8 times more likely to make a purchase within 30 days than consumers with inconclusive Buying Signals. In addition, make was correctly predicted for 84% of sales to “ready to buy” customers 30 days out, and model was correctly predicted for 46% of sales to those customers 30 days out.3 This type of information helps sales team not only identify additional leads, but also accelerate the path to purchase with more relevant recommendations.

2. Boost Productivity

Time is money, and failing to address operational inefficiencies is a good way to lose both. By using AI insights, sales teams can be smarter about how they spend their time. AI can instantly tell managers and sales teams which customers are most engaged and which deals might be headed south, so sales teams can better prioritize their follow ups and managers can step in at the right place and the right time.

The Connect Automotive Intelligence Engagement Strength feature measures how engaged a customer is with your dealership by aggregating interactions logged in the CRM. This level of insight allows BDC reps and sales teams to be more productive by helping them prioritize the leads to follow up on.

AI can also analyze customer sentiment, giving sales reps real-time feedback about how a deal is going and giving managers the information needed to identify where to step in with the customer and coach staffers. AI speeds up the buying process altogether, creating the ultimate efficiency. 72% of dealers surveyed agreed that AI allows their dealership staff to focus time on other areas of the business.4 

3. Improve Customer Experience

Since March, the number of in-market shoppers has decreased by 25%.1 With a smaller total pie, your dealership has to fight hard for its piece. The way to win in this market is by delivering the shopping experience customers are looking for, but that can be easier said than done with limited staff and budgets.

AI fills that gap by delivering the rich customer insights needed to provide a personalized customer experience, instantly. With Connect Automotive Intelligence, staff can see customers browsing history, previous communications with the staff, and sentiment about their interactions with the dealership in their customer record in Connect CRM. These easy-to-access, quick-to-read insights enable salespeople to meet customers where they are in their buying journey without spending precious time manually digging through their data.

Providing the experience customers expect is the first step in winning business, and ultimately repeat business, that your dealership needs to thrive.

Learn more about how Connect Automotive Intelligence can drive more leads at your dealership.

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1. 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer and Dealer Impact Studies
2. 2020 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study
3. VinSolutions Connect Automotive Intelligence Data predictions for 30 days prior to purchase in Aug 2019-Feb 2020
4. 2019 VinSolutions Technology and the Transformation of Retail Study