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This is Part 2 of our Guide on How a Customer-Centric Sales Process Boosts Profits. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, we recommend you check it out.
The first step towards creating a customer-centric sales process is improving existing aspects of the sales process by removing or fixing the parts of the process that frustrates shoppers. Our second, and no less important, step involves potentially new territory: engaging your shoppers emotionally.
Emotion is powerful, and if your sales process isn’t geared to create an emotional connection with your customers, you can’t call your process customer-centric. This isn’t feel-good sentimentality — despite the fact that we’re talking about sentiment. The Journal of Consumer Research reports that more than 50% of an experience is based on an emotion.
With emotional impressions making up that much of the car dealership sales process, it’s clear that emotion is at the very core of customer centricity.
A shopper who feels emotionally engaged during the sales process will be happier, more likely to increase their spend, and less likely to regret their decision.
Now, “emotional engagement” can sound pretty vague — but it means specifically encouraging positive emotions in shoppers. This doesn’t just mean “making shoppers happy.” In fact, there are six feelings that are most responsible for driving loyalty:
While the difference between happy and delighted is simply a matter of intensity of feeling, each of these emotions are distinct, and have a significant impact on customer loyalty.
When focusing on ways to emotionally engage your shoppers, ask yourself where you see shoppers experiencing the opposites of these emotions. Where does it seem that shoppers are sad, neglected, anxious or insecure, concerned, disrespected, or shamed?
The emotions don’t need to necessarily be that intense, but any variation of those negative emotions means that there’s an opportunity to revisit your emotional engagement in that department. Now, it’s impossible to totally prevent negative emotions — you can’t say yes to everything, but you can build emotional connections by being aware of, addressing, and mitigating those negative emotions.
For example, if you have a shopper who just doesn’t qualify for the car they need, they’ll likely be embarrassed, awkward, uncomfortable, and disappointed. You can’t prevent that emotion from happening but with emotional engagement, you can keep them (and their network) close. You can step in, acknowledge the situation is unfortunate, but treat them with respect and preserve their dignity.
(When they can afford the car, they’ll be back — particularly if you help them in the meantime by forwarding offers and letting them know about incentives.)
The beauty of customer-centricity is that it is not-so-secretly just as good for the business. There are real financial benefits to improving your customer experience and engage shoppers emotionally. We’ve laid them out below.
Improving your dealerships customer experience, particularly regarding the sales process, can result in:
The dealerships that will see the benefits above are those that are adjusting quickly to the new reality: The shopper has the power now. Many of their frustrations arise from areas where dealers are still trying to control something they feel they can easily do themselves. That frustration can be particularly sharp when not only do they feel they could do it themselves, but that they could have also done it online.
Remember to shift as much of the tedious parts of the sales process online. Only the most exciting, thrilling, and emotionally-engaging parts of the sales process (and the final necessary bureaucracy) should need to take place at the dealership. If your website is as customer-centric as your dealership, you are set to rake in sales.
A focus on emotional engagement with your customer during the sales process can have profound and long-lasting results, including:
Some of these benefits, like the increase in repeat business, won’t take effect until the first sale is over. However, others can begin the second a customer interacts with your dealership. Adopting a dealership-wide customer-centric mindset helps ensure that you begin forging emotional connections with customers (and start benefiting from that) from the very first sale.
Sure, you sell a product, but with the enormous availability of that product elsewhere, and the incredible increase in how easy it is to find that alternative, dealers should think of themselves now as experience providers
Your sales staff (and website) should offer, yes, excellent prices, high-quality vehicles, etc, but the characteristic that defines your dealership and distinguishes you from your competitors must be the experience that you provide. Research proves that orienting your sales process to deliver that stand out customer-centric experience generates potentially major boosts in profit — it’s up to dealers to change with the times.