To ensure we’re all on the same page, let me be clear when it comes to buyers and transparency. First, there are two basic types of transparency that buyers want; price and transactional. And, second, providing both of these today is no longer an option.
Of course, the good news is that providing price transparency doesn’t have to mean lower grosses and that providing transactional transparency can instantly build trust with buyers without losing control of the buying process.
Wait, What’s Transactional Transparency?
Basically, transactional transparency simply means that the buyer always understands three things about the buying process: 1) What just happened and why; 2) What’s happening now and why; and 3) What’s going to happen next and why. In other words, they are clear on both the process and the reasons for taking any individual step.
This is the essence of transactional transparency, and providing this allows you to build trust with any prospect at any step in the process while you also remove the buyer-seller friction that can occur in many of your current road-to-the-sale steps.
Not surprisingly, the greatest need for transactional transparency exists on your dealership’s sales floor. Though because this series is about driving more leads, calls and sales from your existing website traffic, we’re only going to focus on how to create transactional transparency on your website. (To also increase your transactional transparency in-store, you may want to assign someone on your team to watch both of these free video lessons: Attract & Sell The Millennial Car Buyer and Create The Best Buying Experience Ever.)
Basic Website Transactional Transparency
If you want to understand how to provide transactional transparency on your website, it’s easiest to think about the information your website provides to prospects. For example, basic transactional transparency can be something as simple as letting them know what’s going to happen in the dealership if they complete this step or that.
Basic transactional transparency, then, might be provided as part of the process of completing a credit application or a trade-in form. In this instance, your website can provide basic transactional transparency (and reduce in-store friction) by alerting the prospect that they need to bring in certain documents to qualify for credit or to prove vehicle ownership. Using website widgets to convey these messages is one way to ensure your customers have what they need and know what to expect when they arrive.
Advanced Website Transactional Transparency
Of course, with today’s online car buying options like AutoFi available to dealers, there is a need for greater (or as I call it) advanced transactional transparency on your website. Adding a service like AutoFi to your website today is incredibly easy, inexpensive and comes with little risk to the dealer. Moreover, nothing increases transactional transparency like the customer completing the entire transaction by themselves.
While startups like Carvana try to define dealers as terrible places to purchase cars and tout their own simple online processes, it’s important for you to add a real online buying solution to your website. This not only increases transactional transparency, but also allows you to capture those buyers who want to either complete the entire deal online or at least start there.
By the way, I wrote “real online buying solution” to make sure you understand that much of what is being sold to dealers today is merely a toy (often called “digital retailing”). Conversely, real online buying solutions like AutoFi are actual ecommerce platforms.
Like buying something on Amazon.com, these real online buying solutions provide to-the-penny calculations and give the prospect the sense of ownership throughout the buying process. (Think about it: is there ever a time during an Amazon.com purchase where you don’t feel like you’re actually buying the product?) This “ownership” is critical to ensuring those who start the process actually complete it (either online or in your dealership).
Not coincidentally, both categories of website transactional transparency we discussed are best provided by website add-ons. I believe that’s because these types of offerings are often overlooked by the typical automotive website vendor (as they tend to focus on providing things like inventory and staff pages; or on selling you more profitable products like SEO and PPC).
Since 2006, I’ve referred to website add-ons as parasites – and not in a bad way, mind you. We’ll explore these add-ons next in the series when we look at the parasites that are actually helping dealers move metal today in Parasites on your Website?
(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: Before You Change Even One Word on Your Website…)
Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in Digital Marketing and Website Conversion. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at SteveStauning.com.