Ever hear a dealership salesperson say a customer was “just looking”? 

Maybe in the past when all things automotive were not online, customers did just look around trying to get information. But now, customers really are about to buy after they’ve used the Internet and other sources to shop and research. Then, armed with information, they head for the dealership.

The trick is getting them to buy now. And from you.

So how does advertising attract buyers and not just shoppers? From a marketing standpoint, a dealer still must market the car, price and payment, but also exclusives and added value. Remember, shoppers buy price, buyers buy value.

Because of the Internet, buyers already know most pricing information anyway. What they really need from a dealer is why they should buy now and from you.

A great book is “The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. It offers tips about how high earners “grow” a customer and not just sell to one.

It’s about relationships and coming up with a proper solution to fulfill customer needs. It’s well beyond just being a great sales guy on the floor. This new variety of sales pros can pull a victory from the jaws of defeat every day.

Fact: People who are shopping price alone haven’t yet figured out what they really want, from whom they want to buy it or what the real value is to them. That’s why dealing with tire-kickers is so frustrating to a dealership sales team.

Tip: If your team has a low spot-delivery percentage, low Internet-lead counts, and low lead-to-appointment conversion rates, then your advertising may be attracting shoppers, not buyers. You are burning through cash.

This may seem counterintuitive, but we actually strive to drive down walk-in and no-appointment “ups” while increasing Internet leads and appointment customers. Why? Because the conversion rate and referral rate of these leads are far superior, and the grosses show it. Don’t confuse Internet leads with bought leads that are shotgunned out to a bunch of other dealers. Your own dealership website beats those sources. Your website is where buyers are.

Problem: Many salespeople and even some dealer principals may confuse a busy showroom with success. But brisk traffic does not always mean lots of sales. Buyers plan their approach to you. Internet leads, phone leads and appointments reflect the strategy of a true buyer. They plan it out more than they just drop in to look around.

Shoppers who stop in typically are not quite serious, not quite ready, not quite there yet.

Let’s get back to marketing to real buyers. If you want them on your website, calling for appointments and then buying on the first visit, promote your store on a 3-screen campaign that uses broadcast TV, mobile and digital marketing. Time ads properly, promote values and highlight dealership exclusives.

Ask This: Do a quick self assessment. Do your ads look like those of every other dealership? Are your advertised offers the same factory lease deals that every other dealer has? How easy is it to get real information on your dealership website?

How cheerily does your front-line staff answer the phone? Does your dealership feel like a winner or loser when you walk in?

To increase closing rates and profitability, start thinking about what turns on motivated buyers. If you do, they will find you, wherever you are.

Adam Armbruster is a partner in the retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster and Co. He is at adam@esacompany.com and 941-928-7192.