Any business that works with people will agree that it’s extremely helpful to have some insight into the reasons behind customers’ decision-making ー what draws their attention and what convinces them to make a purchase.

Wouldn’t you be interested to know what your current and prospective customers are thinking when they interact with your dealership?

With 40 years of customer experience under our belt, ARI offers some tips into understanding customer behavior ー including influences that customers themselves may not even realize. We hope you will use these tips to connect faster and more efficiently with your leads so that you can maximize your sales conversions.

Emotion Fuels Connection
You as a dealer probably know this already, but it’s important that we emphasize it: Connections are fueled by emotions. When your team is able to address a customer’s problems and appeal to their needs, trust develops from the situation. When a customer has trust in your dealership, they become confident that you can provide the perfect solution to their problem, and they are much more likely to become a loyal customer.

How do you build trust and confidence? Simple! Shoppers want to receive empathy for whatever problem they are facing (for example, they need to replace their outdated boat before a long-awaited family reunion on the lake). Certainly, they are looking for a solution to their problem, but they also want to have a good interaction with your sales team. If you can solve a customer’s problem and make them feel good about choosing your dealership, you have taken a significant stride in securing their long-term business.

Attention Must Be Personal
Of course, you pay attention to each lead who calls your dealership or enters your store, but the type of attention provided really matters. Greeting a customer, finding out what they are looking for and inquiring if they need assistance ー these are the minimum. Customers want to see more. They want their individual needs to be acknowledged, and that requires your team to understand them. Treat each lead as a significant individual by really listening to their experience and offering your full attention as they tell their story and explain their needs. Customers need to feel that, in that moment, as well as any following experiences at your store, that they are your highest priority. Because they are!

Decisions Should Be Easy
As consumers, we think that when it comes to having options, the more the better! But in reality that often is not the case. Especially for your customers, the experience of choosing and bringing home a new unit will be a much more enjoyable and successful experience if the process of making a decision is easy. You can make that happen!

Remember how relieving it is to be approached by a salesperson at a hardware store or department store, where the options seem innumerable and you’re at a loss on what to choose. The salesperson asks you about your project or about the person you’re buying a gift for, and then they immediately retrieve the perfect item. The same situation applies here. Even if a customer has a vision in their mind of what they want, they easily can become overwhelmed and uncertain when they see all the possible choices. This is where your team can swoop in and make their day by helping them identify the right unit. All you have to do is pay close attention to their needs so that you can understand what they are looking for and follow through.

Validation, Validation, Validation
Shoppers want to feel validated in their search when they visit your dealership. They want your team to listen to their thoughts and opinions, and they want to feel respected. Validation is especially important to customers who have had (at least in their opinion) a negative experience with your store or one of your units. These customers often can be appeased with empathy for their plight, an immediate solution to the problem and a promise that the situation will not occur again.

Proactive response to a negative situation is one of the building blocks of customer retention. In the age of social media and online shopping, resolving customer complaints matters more than ever. After all, nine out of ten people read online reviews before making a purchase, and so keeping your customers happy is crucial for your dealership’s reputation.

Exceed Expectations
This last insight is something you likely have heard before, but we can’t stress it enough: Customers want their expectations MET and EXCEEDED. Doing so is how you turn new leads into lifelong customers. A great rule of thumb is to treat each person who enters your store as a very special guest, and your only objective is to ensure they walk out happy and fulfilled. Even if you are unable to meet their exact request (perhaps the unit they want to see is not on the lot), you can still secure their confidence and their business by delivering an outstanding customer experience.

Keep in mind that even if the visit does not end in a successful sale, the customer may choose to return in the future or recommend your dealership to a colleague. When you treat people as kindly and helpfully as possible, they will remember you, and they will think about how their experience at your store could also benefit others. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing method ー and it’s 100% free!

So, how can you harness customer behavior to increase your sales leads? The bottom line is that customers want to be taken care of when they contact or visit your dealership. Listen to their needs, focus on understanding their situation and do your absolute best to provide an optimal outcome. Doing so will not only encourage that customer to keep coming back, but it will also inspire them to talk up your dealership to anyone else who may be shopping around for their next purchase.

Want more tips on connecting with your customers? First, connect with ARI!