Article

Consider Every Online Offer Or Interaction A Sales Opportunity

December 2007, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Rob Chesney - Also by this author

Dealers with online listings are going to experience a variety of customer types, just as you would on the showroom floor. How you work with those potential customers and turn issues into offers will vary online and should be approached slightly different than your face-to-face dealings.

Every inquiry on eBay Motors is a potential buyer and therefore a relationship that needs time and care to cultivate.  The goal is to build that question or offer, no matter how insulting or low, into an understanding and ultimately a satisfied buyer.

If the customer is taking the time to ask questions and to bid, regardless of the range or anticipated offer, the customer has an interest in the product and may become a buyer, if not with your product then somewhere else. The challenge is to provide complete information and answer questions in a timely manner to build buyer trust online.

Below are some examples of potential buyers and how a dealer can turn each inquiry and offer into an opportunity and ultimately a new customer acquisition.

How low can you go
Dealers will always have the one person on the lot who wants the lowest price possible and will offer an amount significantly below the sticker price or what’s profitable for that particular vehicle. Similarly, online the bidder will provide an offer at the lowest number possible, in hope that he or she is the only bidder for that vehicle or part.  Their goal is to walk away with a great deal.

Joe Shaw, Internet director for Tom Ahl Auto Group in Lima, Ohio, uses eBay Motors Local Market to sell vehicles. The dealership lists all of its vehicles using Best Offer, which allows buyers and sellers to negotiate a price online, and sometimes he receives extremely low bids. If the price is too low to even barter for that particular vehicle, Shaw sees the offer as a sales opportunity. He typically goes back to that customer and offers other vehicles on his lot that are in that price range.

Let’s make a deal
Every auto dealer has come across the negotiator. This person haggles for the price of a vehicle. Although dealers and salespeople become adept at working with customers who like to negotiate, it does take time and energy.

While your listing is active, keep in mind that bidders are competing against each other for your vehicle. These types of buyers are expecting quick responses to their questions about a vehicle’s price, features and terms to feel more confident in their bids. If these buyers don't receive an immediate response, more than likely they’ll move on to the next listing. The more thoroughly you answer each question the more likely you will be able to turn window shoppers into buyers.

The quiz show
Auto dealers also come across the customer who has many questions. This person wants to know every nuance of a vehicle, its complete history in addition to asking about every detail regarding the sale and payment process. Working with this customer may take time but can pay off in the end.

As such, think of your listing as your one and only sales pitch. Customers expect to see strategically-priced, professional-looking offerings in an online listing. One way to alleviate a barrage of questions is to always include as much content and description as possible, and be sure to offer several photos of the vehicle. Buyers who feel they know everything they need to about a vehicle will be more comfortable making a purchase sight-unseen or arranging to come to your dealership for a test drive.

Actively participating in the online sales process helps build a customer’s trust. Make sure you keep your contact information up to date. Answer questions from potential buyers and respond quickly while the listing is active and after the sale when details of the transaction are being arranged.

Entering the abyss
It’s very common for some customers to bid on a vehicle without any previous contact. Try making contact with every bidder to ensure each one is able to qualify for financing, able to complete the transaction and fully understands the terms of sale (including tax, title, license and shipping terms).

Sending an e-mail to anyone who has bid on your vehicle is simple. Clicking on the "Bid History" link will direct you to the list of all the potential buyers who've bid on your vehicle. You can then contact any of them by simply clicking on their user names.

In addition to verifying buyer interest and intent, customer contact also helps generate leads, add additional sales and can help up-sell products such as service agreements and financing options by encouraging buyers to bid more confidently.

When someone bids on one of your vehicles, it’s a good idea to check the prospective buyer’s feedback rating and comments. If questions arise, the dealer should contact the buyer to resolve any potential issues before the sale. Moreover, initiating contact can draw out any questions the prospect may have about the vehicle or the terms of sale, allowing the dealer to answer questions early in the sales process.

Contact is key
It’s important to have consistent, regular contact with every type of buyer you encounter. In fact, you should treat every online buyer or bidder like an "up" on your showroom floor, considering each contact to be a potential sale.

Vol 4, Issue 10

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