We talk a lot about how the new normal is well informed shoppers who have "self-served" themselves far into the decision process. They have done enough online research to narrow their selection and their short list may only have 1-2 vehicles of interest. This is great - if you are on the short list! If you are on the short list don’t blow it by shortcutting what they need next.
We have always said that each step of our sales process must mirror a step of the customer's information or decision path - everything we do with them or for them satisfies an informational or experiential need they have to make a good decision.
It is true that a customer can use the online comparison tools, build and price, and payment calculators to match a vehicle to their needs and budget. So what do they need us for?
It’s still a big purchase so they need confidence that their selection is a good one. Our role is validation. We give them confidence that the vehicle that they selected after 11.5 hours of online research is the best match to their needs and you don't have a better value they should consider. Our consultative questions start with the vehicle they have chosen and how their needs have changed. We confirm for them that they have made a great choice (if they have).
The experiential factors still matter - and they can't do that online. How do they feel in the car? How does the ride, performance, and handling suit them? They're going to be sitting in that seat for 3-5 years; if it’s not comfortable they won't be happy with their selection. By experiencing the car, they remove uncertainty and confirm that they really want it. Mental ownership gives both of us confidence.
They see themselves enjoying the vehicle and we feel confident in suggesting that they own it. This level of confidence is hard to achieve without experiencing the vehicle.
Don't make the mistake of assuming the well informed shopper doesn't need a demonstration drive - even if they say they don't need one!