Scott Pechstein has been with the US-based automotive media company Autobytel for over 15 years. As the vice president of sales, he has the process of selling cars online down to a fine art and he plans to share Autobytel’s tips and tricks at the 2017 Global Classified’s Conference in Miami.
Pechstein has had a lifelong passion for cars. It was this interest and how Autobytel was revolutionizing the car sales process that led him to join the company in 2000.
“I saw how this organisation helps consumers find the perfect vehicle while connecting them with dealers who help them buy the vehicle they desire,” he said.
“Autobytel pioneered the automotive Internet in 1995. It revolutionised the way cars are bought and sold and I really wanted to be a part of that experience. When you think about it, a vehicle purchase is the second largest purchase next to buying a house, so to be able to work for a company that transformed this process - and this industry, really - was very exciting.”
The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 hit the automotive industry hard, and Autobytel was no exception. The company was forced to reduce costs by laying off a large portion of their workforce. The company also considered putting itself up for sale, but that plan was tabled in 2009. Pechstein says working through this difficult time and helping the company find its feet again was the highlight of his career.
“Many companies at that time closed their doors but we did more than just weather-the-storm,” he muses.
“They say that bad times bring about good changes along with good habits and that was the case with our organisation. We're very proud to have come out ahead after the dust settled. I really enjoy where we are now, and I'm equally proud of the full suite of products and services we offer that help dealers sell more cars. That's been our goal since we launched 21 years ago and that continues to be our goal today.”
It was during his 16 years with the company that Pechstein learned the ins and outs of online automotive sales, and he looks forward to sharing them at next year’s conference.
Social media and digital services have revolutionised how consumers purchase a car, but this technology can also have an adverse effect on finalising the sales process. Pechstein calls this the ‘merry go round effect’.
“Today’s consumers spend an average of 17 hours visiting website after website on the digital merry-go-round, researching over 360 different makes and models. The information age has become the indecision age,” he says.
But Pechstein has devised some steps that allow customers to easily search for cars online and make a dealerships website standout among the rest.
1) Get them customers on your dealership website
Be sure to utilise SEM and SEO best practices, as well as vertical advertising, social media, referrals, dealer review sites, and other programs to get consumers to your site.
2) Design a simple platform
Be sure you offer a clean, easy-to-navigate website that features clear car-buying information and advice; new, used, and CPO inventory that is clean and easy to find, and engagement tools such as co-browsing video chat or payment calculators that move consumers down the transaction funnel quickly and easily.
3) Optimize your sales process
It’s important to communicate the benefits of your brand and your dealership, as well as clear information about the specific model of interest and other models for consideration in your inventory. If a new car was requested, provide clear information about comparable used cars and vice versa. As a new car lead ages, the propensity to buy used cars increases. Re-engage consumers after 30, 60, or even 90 days to showcase other comparable vehicles in your pre-owned inventory.
If you’d like to hear more from Scott Pechstein and more experts from the online portal industry, you can book for your tickets to the Global Classifieds Conference here.