The automobile industry is rapidly harnessing the power of modern sales materials and digital tools to revolutionize the way cars are marketed and sold. Automobile buyers are increasingly using online channels for the entire touch point – from booking, try-outs, purchasing, and servicing. The automobile industry sellers are relying on a hybrid of in-store and digital experiences to attract, nurture and retain customers. The contemporary salesmen are seen holding an iPad, as non-stop videos keep on playing on the large screens on the wall, and user registration processes are done online. Hence, automobile companies need to make sure to keep their websites and mobile apps up-to-date and in sync with the physical user actions
This may sound like the automobile manufacturing companies and dealers must be making the best possible efforts to get along with the buyers’ purchasing journey. Well, it’s true. And there are all the supporting stats to do so. A recent survey found that 79% of people who bought cars online were extremely satisfied with the frictionless experience. This indicates that modern sales materials have significantly improved the car buying process. There was also an 89% increase in preorders in the previous year, which reflects the evolved buying behavior post-pandemic i.e., willingness to make decisions online that saves ample time, as well as make room for sensory experience.
According to a 2020 study by Kantar TNS, 90% of car buyers prefer to research online first – even before they visit a car showroom. As per another research, about 75% of people start their car buying process online and more than 60% finalize their price, brand, and model of the automobile before visiting physical stores. An advertising research found that three of the top five advertising formats that triggered successful car purchases were digital. In fact, the US automotive industry spent approximately 13.57bn U.S. dollars on digital advertising in 2018, as reported by Statista.
Looking at the broader market trends, the annual global automotive software spending is projected to surpass $32 billion by 2026. This significant investment in technology indicates the growing reliance on digital solutions in the automobile industry. Sales and marketing, financing and insurance, and sales tools are areas where technology is driving the majority of deals.
While the internet has become influential in converting leads into sales, in-person interactions still hold importance. Customers value the opportunity to try products firsthand before making informed decisions. Modern sales materials complement this by providing detailed information and immersive experiences. Let’s go through some of the important aspects of how modern sales materials are useful in the car buying and selling processes.
Automobile app or website:
Interested customers can instantly access the websites or apps via the internet from any corner of the world. Moreover, having a website offers the advantage of getting indexed by the online search engines, rank higher in searches, and get more leads.
They greatly enhance online automobile research experience by availing numerous sales’ resources which are compelling digital versions of the print brochures and pamphlets. These online resources detail out the stunning features, display high-quality slideshows or image sequences, and exhibit breathtaking videos. The study results showed that car shoppers visited more websites, on average 4.9 sites during the car buying process, compared to 4.0 in 2021. It is also suggested that 66% of car buyers prefer digital mediums to gather information about the vehicle during the purchasing process.
Let’s take this as an example of the psychology behind online buyers’ decisions: Imagine a luxury car running between the mountains with the sound of engine and wheels in the background, isn’t this an adrenaline pumping experience? Or maybe watching a car’s model in all the variant colors or getting a 360-degree inside view of an automobile. From easy access and exploration to fewer touchpoints leading to the decision-making point, the “Digital” sets the live stage for buyers to experience the complete journey.
In present times, Virtual Reality (VR) also comes up as a feasible option in the automobile industry. It enables the customers to experience the thrill of driving a physical car, aiding them in their car buying journey.
Last but not the least, links to social media channels are provided on apps and websites where customers can share a model and ask for the opinion of their near and dear ones. As per research, buying decisions of consumers, even in the automobile industry, are influenced by the word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations of existing users. With the advent of VR in common use, it may even be possible to get yourself clicked while sitting in the car and share the image on social media platform inviting comments and feedback.
Having all these specifications, visuals, and videos at a hand’s distance, it becomes easy for the audience to dig in details at the comfort of their own home. They have the freedom to make up their mind on which brand and model comes under their budget, how much they are willing to stretch, and many more such related questions that cross the mind of a buyer.
Somewhere in the middle of buying decision, notifications can be sent to the leads with the attached location, inviting them to test drive at a nearby store. The geographical location of physical stores may be displayed along with directions.
Sales Presentation: Modern automobile companies are not entirely dependent on how the sales representative presents their brands in front of the customers. There’s a trend to create interactive presentations so as to include all the important highlights and relevant details that may influence a buyer to close the sale. These digital presentations may be distributed across various platforms like apps, websites, or emails. The manufacturers make sure to equip their stores, sales rep, or dealers with these exhaustive presentations.
Different companies personalize these presentations depending upon the interest of buyers, some highlight their brand value, some promote their new models or versions, some emphasize how their product is better than others, and some stress on what makes their product environment-friendly or innovative. These presentations are made more engaging by adding popups, life-size images, or whatever the company looks forward to gaining customers’ attention.
Sales support tools: Whether large scale or small scale, no automobile company ignores the support tools as it lays the foundation for a robust sales strategy. Equally beneficial for the buyers and sellers, these online sales support tools maintain in-depth automobile manuals, case studies, how-to tutorials, and design specs. Digital platforms give life to these support tools and make them interesting and easy to read.
Whereas we may quickly skip a page covered with design specs, people do pay attention to an infographic or animations displaying various specs. Similarly, a how-to tutorial effortlessly explains the intended steps in lesser time and with more retention possibilities. These online tools come in handy in case a sales representative must quickly give answers to prospects’ questions, and they can even share the relevant ones with the prospects and ease their buying decisions.
The usage of modern sales tools in the automobile industry has facilitated seamless trade-in of old cars and streamlined financing of new ones. Notably, 80% of online car buyers expressed high levels of satisfaction with the trade-in process, and 70% with the financing process. In 2022, 64% of online shoppers expressed interest in both new and used vehicles, marking a substantial increase from the 55% recorded in 2021.
Additionally, the adoption of these tools has witnessed an upward trend in the purchase of financial and investment (F&I) products, with 67% of buyers opting to acquire such offerings directly through these platforms — an increase from 59% in 2021. These statistics underscore an enhanced trust in financial procedures, including the loan application process.
Sales reports: Sales reports are crucial for recording and tracking sales processes in the automobile industry. There are various other phases in the sales process right from the onset of the advertising process that need to be tracked and saved for future reference. These sales reports are often covered with numbers and demand undivided attention. Online versions of these sales reports enhance their readability and relevance. This is done by adding interactive TOC, displaying the sales percentage of various brand models in terms of piecharts, representing growth over the months and years by a bar graph, adding popups to display additional information, and much more. These online reports can be secured by adding pins or passwords and distributing only to reliable people. Maintaining an online report helps in securely and quickly share it with the stakeholders and enhances credibility at the same time.
In this article, we’ve mentioned how modern sales materials help in uplifting the automobile industry. These practices can prove to be more useful if they’re more personalized, secure, and robust. This will assist online buyers in minimizing visits to a physical store and finalizing their deals online. There is a long way to go and innovate upon existing operations.