by: Tom Mohr, ResponseLogix President & CEO
Many dealers operate on the mistaken notion that withholding the price from a lead response e-mail will somehow save you from a negative comparison to a competitive dealer. But this is just wrong. As one audience member from an April 2008 Polk Automotive Intelligence Summit said, “If I don’t give price information to the customer, I’m automatically viewed as the highest priced guy in town.”
In a recent Polk White Paper published in 2008 entitled “Customer Expectations”, Polk’s researchers found that “while price was requested by 74% of leads, access to the vehicle’s price information was rated the most important item when determining which dealership to purchase a vehicle from.”
Consumers will consistently choose “fair price/great buying experience” over “best price/ bad buying experience.” You don’t need to beat everyone on price; you just have to be seen as having prices that are “fair.”
With this response, you have taken the consumer beyond price. You are first to respond, your response is the most comprehensive, and you have changed the discussion from “best price” to “which option package?
Dealers using this approach report that the follow-up call to the customer is completely different from the “hide the facts” method. Whereas once the conversation was guarded with the customer suspicious and often argumentative, now the call simply starts with, “Did you get the quote I sent you?” It easily progresses to “I thought you might find it interesting to see some alternative versions of the car you requested, both new and pre-owned. What option features do you find most interesting? Does a new car interest you, or would it make more sense to look at a pre-owned vehicle?
If you have ever shopped for shoes at Nordstrom’s, you might have noticed how the salesperson brings out three or four alternative pairs of shoes, even though you just asked for one. That’s because they want you to focus more on the choice between alternatives than on a simple “buy/no buy” decision. Similarly, a transparent response with price quotes for six or more alternative vehicles elicits trust and interest. Remember, eight times out of ten, the customer ultimately buys a different vehicle from what was specified in the initial lead. So choice widens the possibilities, and deflects the price debate.