Automotive Marketing Strategy – How to Sell Vehicles To Vehicle Shoppers About To Buy Somewhere Else


Today, we’re going to talk about automotive conquest sales, or in other words, selling vehicles to people who are not yet your customers, who are not in your database, and who have not yet experienced your awesome sales or service department.

I know that some dealers often associate conquest with direct mail, which is one method of conquesting; but for the sake of today’s conversation, I won’t be using the word “conquest” as a direct mail strategy, but rather to identify the target we’re after which are NEW CUSTOMERS!

Now when talking about successful conquesting, or selling to people outside of your database, there are two target audiences that have some potential for immediate sales, and these two audiences are at opposite ends of the shopping cycle. The first one is comprised of people who are not yet in the market for a vehicle, and the second one is comprised of people who are just about to purchase a vehicle but who are not considering your brand or models.

Notice that I have voluntarily left out prospects who are mid-cycle and quietly researching their next vehicle purchase. These people are still slowly educating themselves and looking for information to substantiate the decision they will have to make in the near future. Having a good content marketing strategy will be extremely efficient with this crowd, but in my experience, it is very difficult to precipitate their buying decision. If you’re looking to put deals on the board this month, I would focus on both extremities first.

Now if you have read my blogs, watched my videos, listened to my podcasts, or went through my Automotive Conquest Marketing Masterclass, you probably already know that my preferred prospects are non-intenders or the 91% of the population not in the market for a vehicle. They are the easiest target for an immediate increase in your sales. If you haven’t seen these training tools, I suggest you get your hands on these first.

But in today's blog, I want to focus on the second group, and the reason I feel compelled to discuss how to maximize your results and efforts from prospects who are about to purchase but haven’t considered your brand, is because most dealers I talk to see that group of prospects as an easy low hanging fruit. They reason that, since these prospects are just about to purchase a vehicle, they should be much easier to steer into a deal for their dealership.

As a marketing professional helping car dealers sell more vehicle, you would think that the conquest conversation would be an easy one, right? Wrong! Although it’s at the top of the list of priorities of every dealer and automotive marketing team I talk to, it’s probably the hardest conversation to have and the one I dread the most. Here’s why:

Most dealers don’t want to hear the truth about conquest, which forces me to teepee toe around the truth not to ruffle some feathers. But today, I decided to come out completely unrestrained with the ugly truth nobody wants to hear, and say it without beating around the bush.

But I have to admit I’m a little scared.

Please suspend your judgment, and hear me out before throwing me tomatoes.

Here is the truth about conquest: If you want to be successful at conquesting with vehicle shoppers about to buy, you have to acknowledge that the true conquest vehicle shopper at the end of the shopping cycle doesn’t care about the brand and the models you sell.

Ouch! I know it hurts a little, but it’s the truth; conquest vehicle shoppers just don’t care about the vehicles you sell. If they did, they would already be in your marketing pipeline.

Now this truth has nothing to do with the quality of your vehicles, your service, the reputation of your dealership in the area, or how involved you and your team are in the community. Actually, it has nothing to do with you, your dealership or your product. You just simply didn’t make it on the prospect’s radar because

the prospect was blind and deaf to your brand.

Maybe the prospect’s family has been biased to a competing manufacturer for generations. Maybe the prospect is prejudiced against your brand because of some hearsay, or somebody else’s bad experience. Maybe they’ve zoomed in on a segment of vehicles for which your brand doesn’t have a model. Maybe they’re following the advice of a third party automotive journalist who favors a particular model outside of your roster.

The reasons are plenty, and with prospects heavily researching their next purchase online, we have less and less of a say as to where the cards ultimately fall in their mind. If prospects are honing in on a particular make and model, your chances of making them deviate from their decision at the last minute in favor of your dealership by heavily advertising your manufacturer’s incentives for a few days are close to none.

So what’s the secret to conquest success with prospects who are just about to purchase a vehicle? Follow Robert Collier’s advice: “Always enter the conversation already taking place in the customer's mind.”

What does this mean you might ask? Well, let’s start with what it doesn’t mean. If prospects are not thinking about your brand, talking about your incentives and your models is NOT entering the conversation currently taking place in their mind.

Does this mean that you should talk about your competitor’s brand and models? I don’t believe so.

So what is the conversation going on in the prospect's mind during the last days before buying the vehicle they’ve been researching? I believe the conversation in their mind revolves around the same 5 questions that are keeping non-intenders out of the market, which are price, payment, cash, credit, and trade; but with a focus on the specific model they want to buy or lease.

The conversation in their mind might go something like this:

  1. Is this the best time for me to get the best PRICE on the [year, make, model] I want?

  2. Will the PAYMENT on the [year, make, model] I want fit in my budget?

  3. Do I have all the CASH that will be required for me to get the [year, make, model] I want?

  4. Will I get approved for CREDIT for the [year, make, model] I want?

  5. Will I get enough for my TRADE?

If you noticed, the first 4 statements are all about the [year, make, model] they want; and that’s not a model you sell so there’s little you can do about answering these questions. You could say that you have lower prices, small payments, no cash down required and easy approval on your models, but they don’t care about your models; remember?

I know, it hurts; and it’s still hard to admit right? But focus on the final statement, the fifth one: Will I get enough for my trade? This question, part of the conversation currently in the prospect’s mind leaves the door right open for your dealership to provide an answer.

You could say something like this to the prospect: “I don’t care if you decided to buy your vehicle from another dealer, we have a thriving used car operation here and the technology to maximize how much you will get for your trade. I want to buy from you the vehicle you’re driving now, even if you don’t buy your next vehicle from us.”

If you can create some exciting marketing and communicate this message with class, truly respecting the decision the prospect made about his next purchase, you will start talking to people you would have never talk to before.

All you’ll have to do at this point is to create within your dealership a process where you can handle these request while creating for the prospect a memorable experience. Your goal will be to provide such an amazing experience for the prospect that your team will earn the privilege of showing the model from your roster that competes with whatever the prospect originally had in mind.

…and now you’re conquesting!

Now just to make sure, the five-foot long trade appraisal form that usually comes by default with no copy and headline on most dealer’s Website would not fall under the “exciting marketing” label I was mentioning before.

If you would like to see examples of some exciting ways we found here at Turbo

Marketing to enter the conversation already taking place in the prospect's mind to help you position your dealership as the trade appraisal center for all vehicle shoppers in your area, visit the campaign section of our Website. I guarantee it will get your automotive marketing creative juices going.

Sean Cassy is the automotive digital marketing specialist at Turbo Marketing Solutions. You can contact him here by email or by phone at Turbo Marketing every week day from 7am to 6pm EST.

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