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The Importance of Customer Journey in Customer Retention

Joe Girard, the famous salesman who sold 1,425 cars in 1973, and Ali Reda, who reportedly sold an astounding 1,582 cars in 2017, claim ownership of the record for most cars sold in a year.

At stake: The title of “world’s greatest car salesperson.”

The Girard camp says Reda must prove it. Reda’s team (and General Motors) say they did.

According to Crain’s Detroit, the Guinness Book of World Records looked at the kerfuffle and decided to retire the category. Instead of confirming one side over another, they made Girard a “historic record holder.”

It’s a fascinating story, and one with a very relevant message for today’s sales teams.

Best-Selling Salespeople Know What Matters: Putting the Customer First

Even though Girard and Reda sold cars in different decades and had unique approaches to their profession, it seems that Girard and Reda had a few things in common, including an unwavering work ethic, dedication to the business, and a commitment to delivering the best possible customer service.

According to a recent Automotive News article, Girard was known to support loyal customers, sometimes even paying for minor repairs. Girard understood his customers and cultivated long-term relationships with them as part of his customer retention strategy. Reda’s success has come in a similar way – but with critical differences. The same article examined how Reda’s commitment to the people in his community was a driving force behind his sales. Reda is active outside of the dealership, cultivating relationships and earning the trust of the community.

Delivering the Right Customer Experience

Any great salesperson will tell you trust and conviction are the building blocks of loyalty and key to any customer retention program. In today’s changing sales environment, that starts with understanding and responding to each buyer’s unique purchase journey. A recent study by Think with Google titled, “The Car-Buying Process: One Consumer’s 900+ Digital Interactions” illustrates just how varied that experience is; it’s certainly no longer a linear path that relies on the local dealership and advertising circular.

Recent studies by Millward Brown Digital and Polk found that “six out of 10 car shoppers enter the market unsure which car to buy.”  Most car buyers visit fewer than two dealerships before making a purchase. This shows that consumers are more informed and confident about their decision since they’ve already consulted a number of sources: the local car enthusiast, a third-party car website, and social media before winding up at a dealership website. And while it’s certainly a crazy-eight path driven by access to digital and mobile resources, what’s important to note are the big moments and opportunities dealerships must build a personal connection.

  • The Dealership Website Experience: Often, the first exposure a customer has with a dealership is the website. What’s that first impression like? A website based on engagement, with an opportunity to gather data and drive a personal approach, is one that starts the journey off on the right foot.
  • Mobile First: Continuing the experience from online to the showroom is fundamentally about bringing a BYOD (bring your own device) mobile strategy to life. Consumers want information via mobile platforms because it fits within the notion of micro moments, those minutes where research and decision-making get done. In the Think with Google example, 71% of the person’s digital touchpoints occurred on mobile.
  • Bring it all Together in the Showroom: Online may inform, but the sale happens at the store. That’s only as long as dealership sales teams leverage data and analytics to craft a satisfying and personal relationship with the customer, carrying over the digital experience and using personas to create a real and tangible personal connection.

The likes of Joe Girard and Ali Reda are unique. But in their own way they serve as a powerful reminder of the power of building profitable customer relationships. In today’s digitally-driven research and sales process, dealers have the opportunity to leverage technology to craft the right kind of experience – one that meets the right kind of need.

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