Marketing and sales is an art. While success in these disciplines has always required having access to the right people at the right time, these days, buyers are electing to do research online and are extremely well-informed by the time they have their first contact with a company.In the automotive sector, this is leading to a changing sales cycle, according to research. According to a survey conducted by Google, 74% of US new-vehicle buyers used online search during the buying process, but only 20% of new-car shoppers buy the brand they first searched for.

“Marketing tactics like Google AdWords have become must-haves for companies in the automotive industry, but what has happened is that while automotive businesses are trying to drive high quantities of leads into dealerships, the leads don’t necessarily become sales. The tried and tested approach of personal communication will still win the sales,” says Louise Robinson, sales director of CG Consulting.

“What dealers and consumers truly need is quality – a connection between a ready buyer and a qualified dealer. If the entire model is structured around more leads, rather than improving the customer experience and facilitating a sale for the dealer, there is very little point.”

Robinson says that getting to the correct level of client is the hardest part of any sales campaign and explains that gaining access to the right customers is simple if the human touch is applied – and if automotive businesses have access to the right data. “With consumers now using the Internet to find and compare new and old car prices and to find out about vehicles, the personal touch is what can convert an interested browser into a buyer. And to make sure the touchpoints with customers are personal, you have to know who they are and what they need.”

She adds that with the information overload on the Internet, many dealers struggle to attract genuinely interested shoppers. Purchasing a clean database will help automotive companies reach buyers actively searching for a car.

In addition, dealerships can take this a step further by obtaining qualified leads through lead generation and appointment setting. This, says Robinson, is especially useful for those businesses looking to provide superior customer service.

“Calling up a prospective buyer and arranging to bring a car around for a test drive will not only provide that much-needed personal interaction that can help the sale, but the good impression it leaves on the customer will have a lasting effect. If reach out to a list of people that have chosen to be contacted by your company, the sale will follow quickly and easily,” says Robinson. “Accessing the focused data needed to get the right leads is easy with the right partner.”