Every customer has a different buyer persona and a unique need or concern. That means each customer will navigate the car buying process in a unique way. This is known as a customer buying journey. Understanding your customer's particular buying journey is, in many ways, at the center of effective salesmanship. It helps drive what selling method to rely on most, it determines your use of communication channels, influences your sales mentality, drives customer satisfaction, and needs to be incorporated into your sales process.
Sound important, right? It is. So let's dive into it.
Four Stages of a Car Buyer's Journey
The customer first realizes that they have a need or problem and are researching ways to resolve the issue. They are still deciding on make and model and, in many circumstances, whether or not they want to get a new vehicle at all.
The customer reviewed their options and narrowed them down to just a handful of choices. At this point, they have decided what to buy and from whom.
The customer has finalized their decision and they are figuring out what’s required of them to complete the purchase. They want to understand what options they have for financing, what incentives may be available, and so on.
Once the customer completes their buying journey, customer service is following up to determine their level of satisfaction with the experience. This is the salesperson’s opportunity to nurture the relationship and drive repeat business.
Keep in mind, how quickly a customer moves through each stage of the buying journey can depend on many factors. If the customer is in need of transportation as soon as possible, the entire process could only take a few hours or days. Other times, a sales rep could be nurturing the relationship with the customer over a matter of weeks or months.
Impact on Selling Method
Knowing where your customer is in their unique buying journey will help influence how you blend the two main selling methods, educate & inform and command & control.
Focusing on the educate & inform method in this stage would be appropriate. This will give the customer the tools they need to complete their research and move along their buying journey. A command & control approach at this stage is less valuable because it can come off as pushy and invasive to the buyer who is still learning and thinking.
Educate & inform is also well suited for this stage. The goal is for the salesperson to be flexible to the customer’s needs. Answer the customer’s questions and provide additional information when necessary. It’s important to ask questions so that you have a clear understanding of what their needs actually are. That being said, more elements of the command & control method can be employed here to help advance the ball.
Customers in this stage benefit from more of a command & control approach as you usher them through, what can be, a complex process (trade-ins, credit applications, financing terms, etc). The use of command & control here does not imply pushy, however.
Forget about command & control in this stage for one simple fact: the customer perceives their business with you as being concluded, and thus any interaction is purely optional on their part. Educate and inform is the best way to drive a meaningful lasting impression that is more likely to result in repeat or referral business.
The moral of the story is that the best salespeople know how to adapt. They control the conversation in a way that is both thoughtful and purposeful. Asking your customers detailed questions about what their needs are positions a sales rep to provide helpful information that customers will appreciate.
How We Can Help
We dive deeply into buying journeys (and more) in our training. Not only are there hours of tailored video content, but there are also dozens and dozens of one-on-one roleplays where we ask you to identify the buying journey and alter your sales approach accordingly. Learn more HERE or connect with us HERE for a free assessment.