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Bridging Car Buying’s Last Mile – Part 1

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The greatest impact has been to three key pieces of the automotive sales puzzle, or what have been traditionally labeled as the three “P’s” of the car-selling process. Today, in-market consumers wield vast amounts of knowledge about what product to buy (from vehicle reviews, specification sheets, comparisons), what price to pay (from fair offer, trade value, and financing information), and at which place to make the final purchase (from dealer reviews and dealer ratings).The power and transparency of digital commerce has reshaped the car shopper’s journey, changing the way today’s consumers can and do shop for new vehicles.

And yet in what is likely the most important part of the sales process – the “last mile” of the journey – little has changed.

The last mile refers to the time between when a prospective customer completes their online product, price, and place research and when they arrive at a showroom. During this critical stage, there is often little if any dealership involvement with the consumer. Typically, dealers simply wait for a prospect to show up, at which point it becomes anyone’s guess as to who the buyer will be paired to complete a purchase.

Such a system is not working to anyone’s benefit.

For shoppers, it provokes anxiety in people who simply want to be further educated about products and pricing in advance of making a high-ticket acquisition. For top salespeople, it fails to reward their level of professionalism which is likely already driving considerable revenue to the organization.

And herein lies the opportunity for dealerships to foster the kind of positive engagement and trust-building that right now does not exist between their stores – and most importantly, their highly-reviewed sales and service personnel – and consumers ready to buy.

E-commerce has transformed consumers’ connection to automotive products, pricing, and places. The result has been dealers’ increasing inability to differentiate themselves by leaning on these three “P’s” alone.

Now, the key to shaping in-market car-buyer interest, engagement, and trust requires the introduction of a fourth “P” – a person – into the automotive marketing mix. In doing so – and by initiating powerful online connections with consumers before they set foot on a lot – dealerships will have a powerful weapon that can drive significant growth.

To learn more about how dealerships can profit from digital connections between their sales and service employees and in-market consumers, download the white paper, “Bridging the Car Buyer’s ‘Last Mile.'”