This column was written by Premal Shah, VP, Strategy at Chango, a real-time marketing technology company with an advanced platform and full-service solutions for brands and agencies. Premal is responsible for leading best practices and partnership strategies across all media solutions and the Programmatic Marketing Platform (PMP).
3 Ways the Car Salesmen of the Future Will Be Way Less Annoying
On the likability scale, car salesmen rank somewhere between lawyers and grave robbers. If you’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of buying a car from one, you know that it can be a harrowing trial of emotional manipulation. I know that every time I hear the words: “Let me go talk to my manager and see what I can do,” I feel like another month of therapy is being added onto my life.
But there’s got to be a better way, right? There is. Advances in programmatic marketing — the hot new marketing practice that allows brands to serve ads to people based on their interests, profile and behavior — are going to disrupt how people buy a car in the future by changing the way that dealers operate — for the better.
1) They’ll use smart data instead of emotional manipulation.
The car salesmen of the future’s greatest tool won’t be emotional manipulation. It will be strategic consumer data. Instead of spending an hour trying to push you into that sports car for an extra $999.99, he’ll use demographic, behavioral and intent data to figure out what you really want and need—even if you don’t know yourself.
All the dealer will need is your email address, phone number, or another piece of personal information to pull up a treasure trove of information: your demographic information, purchase trends, and what you’ve been looking for (via search data). This may sound a little creepy, but in the next few years, I anticipate that we’re going to grow more and more comfortable with marketers knowing a heck of a lot about us. (Newsflash: they already do.) And it’ll reap big benefits. Salespeople will be able to offer cars and features that truly meet your needs, and they won’t waste your time trying to sell you something that you don’t want.
And if you walk into the dealership not knowing what you want, they can use all that data to predict the kind of car you’re most likely to want — meaning that you won’t get sold on a Camry when what you really want, even if you don’t know it, is a Lexus.
2) They’ll be more willing (and able) to get you the best deal.
Ten years ago, you went to a car dealership with a vague idea of what you wanted (“a Camry, I guess”). Today, buyers are far more informed thanks to a bevy of car and price comparison tools. They may go to the dealership, take a look in person, go home, do more research, then come back…over and over again.
This is creating lots of consumer touchpoints, and no one is really sure who gets credit for the sale. Is it your website? The video in your Facebook News Feed? The dealer? Out of sheer necessity, car manufacturers and dealers will have to do a better job of tracking what’s really driving sales and attribute it effectively.
Moving forward, all online and offline factors that lead to a sale will be recorded and analyzed in the sequence they occurred. That will allow car manufacturers and dealers to actually know what factors contributed to a sale — something known in the marketing world as effective attribution modeling.
If sales are effectively attributed, dealers will be able to get you the best price without risking losing the commission. That means that if you can get that Lexus for $2,000 less on a little-known site, the dealer will let you know, and you’ll reap the rewards.
3) They May Not Exist At All
Okay, the total extinction of car salesmen might be a little optimistic, but buying cars online is only going to get better and better, as inventory management and predicted customizations will make it easier to buy online.
Instead of having to deal with each dealership individually, national online marketplaces will be created, similar to how you find the cheapest flight. This will allow consumers to better research cars, make the best possible decisions based on their personal preferences and perhaps, in a throwback to the eBay era, also bid on cars against each other.
Test-drive centers may replace dealerships, and after you figure out what car you want, all you’ll have to do is whip out your smartphone (or turn on your Google Glass!) and bid.
What a world that would be.