5 Must-Haves for Selling Cars in a Pandemic
by Robert Stillman
As we assess the current journey of automotive retailing in 2020, it may be too early to award or simply pronounce what are “must haves” versus “nice to have” as we deal with the new normal. But our editorial board looked at the call data and connection rates, as well as the questions being asked by the public, and we want to share what we found from a technology side that will give dealerships an edge in retailing automobiles.
Here are 5 tools we see being essential for retailing cars during a pandemic:
- Round-Robin System& IVR: Over 95% of all leads are begin with a phone call to the dealer. The ability to assign calls and not overwhelm the staff, as dealerships adjust to new call handling techniques, saw those with a form of round-robin, or an effective IVR system, resulting in a better customer experience. Not every dealership kept a receptionist as the first line of the customer’s point of contact during the pandemic. Those that went to a monitored IVR system and had an ability to round-robin their calls, resulted in less disconnects and frustration on the part of the car-buying public.
- Call Monitoring/Tracking System: As soon as GMs couldn’t walk the floor and touch base the old fashion way with their sales teams, it became apparent that the phones calls were more important than ever. We have had many dealers reach out to us to say how critical it was to have eyes on their phone calls, and call volume is up 22%! Calls have become more important because the consumer is shopping by telephone and asking for the cars to be delivered to their homes. CallRevu’s missed-opportunity alerts have become more closely monitored than ever before, as dealers pushed to work every opportunity to close a sale.
- Screenshare and Video Technology for Virtual Meetings: While phone companies used to advertise that they represented “…the next best thing to being there,” we have become a society that has adopted video conferencing. FaceTime, Zoom, Google, or whatever your medium is, became critical to teach your team during the pandemic. These tools are important to have in the hands of your sales professionals when a customer is out on a solo test-drive, wants to discuss a vehicle, or has a post-sale question. These technologies have also been critical for team meetings and walking a customer through proposals for virtual purchases. The experience is changing rapidly with digital website and white glove service to your door. We still have an affinity for seeing someone in person, but when that’s not possible, we can do what we need to via video conferences.
- Emailing with Videos: Here’s where we can get all agnostic on the technology. There are a number of companies that provide the ability to send a video through email. This allows a dealer to be able to show the car or demonstrate a feature. Here at CallRevu, we have been hooked on our video email system as well.With 78% of people watching online videos every week (Hubspot), and over 1 BILLION hours of videos watched EVERY DAY (YouTube), this is the proper vehicle to connect with your customers. Being able to provide a 1 to 1 conversation through an email takes the connection to a whole new level.
- Spend Smarter on Digital Advertising: During the past couple months with COVID-19, some dealers lost their rankings in their district while others moved up. The ones that moved down overreacted as the prevailing wisdom was to cut digital ad spend. However, with our tool on our customer’s website, dealers found the best of both worlds and were able to spend less by targeting budget on keywords and campaigns that generated the most conversions. Our CallVision DNI (Dynamic Number Insertion) has the ability to report through Google Analytics in a way that is easier for dealers to understand, as well as pinpoint which keywords produce phone calls in addition to chats and form fills. The savviest dealers in our customer base saw consistent costs-per-conversion rates at or below the $30 level per conversion through the pandemic. After all, if you know what is producing actual phone calls versus click-to-calls and you know which ones result in appointments, why wouldn’t you keep up the pace?
Think about survival shows where the contestants get to pick out which items/tools they bring with them while they compete. An example would be the show, “Alone” (full disclosure, I once interviewed fellow Western Michigan alum, David McIntyre, the winner of Season 2 of “Alone.” You can see David picking out his 10 items here ). While Dan chose things like a sleeping bag, flint and axe, your choices for surviving and thriving are just as important. Pick your list carefully. Making it through the wilds of the pandemic is very similar, and we find the above tools to be just as essential.