April 24, 2020
Dealerships: How can you digitize your showrooms and increase your sales?
Conversational marketing is setting a pattern for the digital transformation of all business. How to take your first steps.
COVID-19 has thrown car sales and dealerships into a surreal situation.
In China, they have reported an 80% decrease in car sales since the pandemic began, according to the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
The cause is simple: potential customers stayed away from showrooms, and salespeople were confined in mandatory quarantine.
The collateral damage is enormous. Remember that China is the largest car market in the world.
In fact, Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, ins known as "motor city," because it is home to factories for General Motors, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot, and Renault.
And, in a butterfly effect, a flapping wing in China was felt around the world. It began with the cancellation of large events: the Geneva International Motor Show and its equivalent in New York were postponed for fear of spreading the coronavirus.
Next, European car manufacturers closed their factories, worried about the heath of their employees, while demand plummeted.
The interruptions quickly echoed down the automobile manufacturing supply chain, which heavily involves China and the U.S. industry.
As if that weren't enough, the market for electric vehicles also showed signs of weakness, as it is very dependent on the global supply chain for batteries, and were already difficult to sell to consumers.
And this whole chain of events led Moody's to predict a worldwide decline in auto sales of 2.5% in 2020.
But now is not the time to be afraid. Every crisis brings its own opportunities as well, and today we'd like to give you a few ideas that all dealerships can use to digitize your teams and showrooms.
The digital transformation of the auto industry
The COVID-19 outbreak has forced many businesses to connect with potential customers digitally.
In China, where they are attempting to return to normal, industries are beginning to work and they are a useful source of knowledge.
This is is case for Geely, a firm who launched their online sales system in the middle of the pandemic. It allows you to choose your options, financing, insurance, and input an address for delivery without any need for physical contact.
On the other side of the world, we're not far behind...
Checkars is an online platform described as "the first used car ecommerce business in Argentina."
The business arose out of the inefficient process for selling and buying used cars in Argentina.
We put ourselves in the place of the buyer. The process starts with hours wasted looking at online and print ads, and when you finally call to ask about the car you like, you end up arranging to meet a stranger somewhere that could be unsafe.
Then the price negotiations begin. Often the two parties can't reach an agreement and it ends up being a waste of time. And not only that, the payment process is always nerve-wracking.
All this to spend hours in the registry office filling out forms. As if that weren't enough, none of this process involves a chance to check whether the vehicle is in good condition.
What Checkars did was get rid of all those unnecessary steps. A person can get a quote for a vehicle and buy it after checking everything from the comfort of the home (even getting the vehicle delivered).
This is also the case for Plasencia, a used car dealer in Mexico, who digitized all their showrooms overnight and minimized all in-person contact down to just the essentials: signing the documentation and receiving the car at home when it is delivered.
And the salespeople?
All the agents are working from home, scouting potential customers, responding to inquiries, sending quotes, scheduling calls and setting reminders.
Do you know what both these businesses have in common?
They use WhatsApp.
Around the world, WhatsApp now has 2 billion total users, according to a report updated in February of 2020.
But it's not a question of size, but rather of effectiveness.
According to Sendinblue, the open rate for a WhatsApp message can be as high as 70%, while many emails get deleted without even being read.
And that's not all. In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the statistics shot up.
In the countries most affected by the virus, like Italy and Spain, services like delivery were made more powerful, and WhatsApp was the main mode of communication.
The messaging app confirmed this in a release in which they stated that sending of WhatsApp messages has increased by 70%.
Given that it is the mode of communication that your clients use even at the most difficult times, why not be there?
It turns out that there is also WhatsApp Business, the app's service for businesses that allows your company to have an official profile.
Let's be honest. An email is slow and a call has no multimedia capability. WhatsApp is a platform designed for quick, personal, modern messages.
Of course, at this point your concern is maintaining sales volume during this time of crisis. Well, keep reading.
Increase dealership sales during times of crisis
A while ago, in another post, we told a little story. A friend who owns a car dealership called and explained his thinking.
According to him, in moments of crisis, people don't buy new cars. Ah! But then that means they will be bringing the cars they have in for service more often.
He took quick action...
The first thing he did was to move his salespeople into the service area. The agents gave tips, highlighted the advantages of newer models, and gained the customers' trust.
What conclusion can we draw?
The key concept during a crisis is taking care of your customers. Crises are temporary, and they will return to the place that gave them the best service. It's not a question of loyalty, but rather of ensuring the best treatment every step of the way.
For example, did you know that in the United States, 40% of the income from online sales comes from regular customers?
Plus, today 60% of auto sales start on the internet.
The people who are calling, emailing, or sending WhatsApp messages asking for information matter more than ever now.
Now, have you ever spoken to a salesperson?
If your answer was yes, you'll know that they all talk about their technique as if it was the perfect recipe for success. They may differ somewhat from one to the other, but they always have certain steps in common. You might even call them the sales commandments.
Offer the best possible welcome
This is basic. Every introduction is key to closing the sale later on.
And a key addition we'd like to make, that we talk about more in this post, is a phrase like "what can I help you with?" so that the consumer feels that there is some interest that goes beyond the sale.
Always be scouting
After the introduction, it's time to find out what step of the sales process the customer is in. Are they looking to learn more? Do they already have a solution in mind? Or have they already decided to make a purchase?
If the last one is the case, they will just need a push in the right direction...
But if not, you can find out with just a few simple question: when were you thinking of buying? How will you be paying? And finally, what model of car are you interested in?
Follow up with your clients
Normally, many salespeople make the mistake of trusting in luck. They close with: I'll email you the information and wait to hear from you.
That chills the sale!
Ideally, you'll close with a next step. "I'll send you an email so you can check through the information. Why don't I call you tomorrow and we can talk through any questions?"
Now, did you notice that this whole conversation could take place via any medium? Maybe you were imagining a phone call,but it just as easily could have been WhatsApp.
That's why we'd like to introduce you to a concept we love at Sirena: conversational marketing.
The interesting things is that WhatsApp Business is a perfect tool for leveraging all these questions we were talking about, thanks to its options for automation: welcome messages, away messages, quick responses--but we'll look at some specific use cases.
Dealerships on WhatsApp: how to digitize your showroom
Visualize your customers. What are their most common questions?
They probably ask for quotes, payment methods, available models, and their characteristics.
And here comes something key: they all want an instant response.
In fact, there's a study from the Harvard Business Review on this topic. It says that the first 5 minutes are key for your business, because after that you lose their interest. What in marketing we call cold leads.
As salespeople or customer service agents, you can use WhatsApp Business as a way to send personalized offers (remember to say no to spam), publicize sales, or simply send information to customers such as the status of their purchase.
For example, a customer can send a message to the service team with a question, and they can respond with personalized videos, making the whole experience much more personalized.
Of course, the truth is that despite being a tool for businesses, WhatsApp Business does have its deficiencies.
Imagine that a customer goes to your website and sees a WhatsApp button to contact your company, but what phone number do you use?
In other words, your dealership has multiple salespeople. Let's say, for example, that you have five people, but you can only post one phone number.
And let's suppose that these salespeople are all working from home. How will you share one phone number between all of them? Now do you need five lines? Doesn't it seem a little inelegant for your company to have five "official lines"? And what happens if one of your salespeople leaves tomorrow? Who would get the contacts they sold to? Would you transfer them manually?
All these question have the same answer: Sirena.
Sirena, the WhatsApp Business enhancer for dealerships
At Sirena we're known as the 100% WhatsApp-integrated CRM, because we simplify communication between clients and companies via the channel that customers use most.
To begin with, with Sirena you can have a single WhatsApp line for all your teams, allowing you to take your business digital.
You'll have your digital showroom on WhatsApp.
Of course, you can see that working from home makes it more difficult to monitor all your salespeople's conversations with customers, but one of our features allows you to see the tone of chats, measure response times, suggest recommendations to your salespeople, and even schedule meetings or set reminders.
Because everything is centralized in a single WhatsApp line for your team, you have 100% visibility and control.
Each one of these tools is a booster for your team's sales, but there's more...
For example, we adapted to what dealers need and added a chatbot for WhatsApp, which will allow you to direct contacts to the correct team (for example: sales, support, or administration), share your response times, and even better, categorize contacts.
It also supports sending template to up to a thousand contacts as long as they have been pre-approved by WhatsApp.
Don't get left behind. Your business can make the leap to the digital world hand in hand with Sirena.
As we mentioned at the beginning, it's a surreal scenario, but there will come a time in the near future when things will return to a "new normal" that has more in common to the way things were before, and your business must make the leap to the digital era.
Restaurants will be full.
People will be crowding into sports stadiums.
And people will look for those aspirational things they always dreamed of having, and this will include cars.