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In an ever-changing automotive market, the presale phase offers numerous advantages for both dealers and buyers. In this article we will look at the importance of presales in the automotive industry, analysing why it has become such a widespread practice and how it is able to meet the needs of both parties involved.

From the creation of expectation and desirability around new vehicle models to the optimisation of production and distribution processes, we will discover how presale is redefining the way cars are launched on the market and how this can be a winning strategy.

Before we begin, it is essential to remember that automotive ecommerce can offer the possibility of buying cars from various European countries. However, in order for the customer to be able to register their cars legally in whole Europe indefinitely, it is of fundamental importance to provide him or her with the certificate of conformity. In order to obtain this document safely and reliably, it is advisable to turn to a specialised portal such as EUROCOC.

What Changes Have Occurred in the Automotive Sector?

In recent years, the automotive sector has gone through a phase of profound transformation, accelerated by the recent pandemic. Car sales have been severely affected worldwide and companies in the supply chain have faced unprecedented challenges. However, this crisis situation also offered opportunities for growth for those who were able to adapt and look to the future from a digital perspective.

The Digital Transformation has become crucial in the automotive industry and companies have had to focus on the Digital Customer Experience, adopting data-driven marketing and customer care strategies focusing on the personalisation of offers.

Now, let us focus on a key phase of the automotive sales process: the presale. This period preceding the actual sale is a complex and non-linear process, characterised by numerous touch-points that develop through very different channels.

In order to best deal with presales in the automotive sector, it is essential to carefully map out the customer’s sales path and to carefully monitor each stage. Here are some key strategies to optimise the presale process:

  • Adapting to digital change: The future of the automotive industry is increasingly digital. Companies need to adopt new technologies and embrace technological innovation with the aim of reaching and engaging customers effectively. The use of online platforms, social media and e-commerce solutions are just some of the possibilities to consider.
  • Create an engaging experience: Investing in creating an engaging and interactive experience for potential customers is crucial. Using videos, virtual tours, car configurators and other digital resources can help spark interest and stimulate the imagination of potential buyers about the vehicle they want.
  • Personalising offers: Use the data collected during customer interaction to offer personalised offers. Understanding the individual needs and preferences of potential buyers can, in fact, make all the difference in convincing them to approach the purchase stage.
  • Multi-channel communication: Every customer has his or her own communication preferences. It is essential, therefore, to ensure a multi-channel presence, so as to intercept potential buyers through the channels they prefer to use, be it e-mail, telephone, chat or social media.
  • Exclusive offers and incentives: Proposing exclusive offers and targeted incentives during the presale phase can push undecided customers to make the purchase. Discounts, service packages or temporary promotions can increase the urgency to close the deal.
  • Providing detailed information: Providing the customer with all the necessary information about the vehicle, from the technical data sheet to details on available features and options, can help dispel doubts and resolve possible resistance at the final sales stage.

Dealing with presales in the automotive sector therefore requires a strategic, future-oriented vision focused on the customer experience. The ability to adapt to new digital challenges, to offer an engaging and personalised experience, and to communicate effectively across different platforms, are key elements in order to achieve satisfactory sales results even in the current crisis.

How does the Customer Journey develop for Presale in the Automotive Industry?

Let’s start with a simple question: how long is the presale process in the automotive sector? In short, it is a much more extensive and complex journey than in other sectors.

Ninety-five per cent of automotive searches start online and 60 percent of these searches take place via mobile devices. Interestingly, buyers often search for car-related videos during this phase. Furthermore, only one third of people have a clear idea of the vehicle they want to buy before starting the information gathering phase.

A survey conducted by ACA Research mapped the customer journey of those interested in buying a vehicle, revealing a time span of 5 to 12 weeks, divided into four main stages:

  1. After the first online searches, the potential buyer lists the cars of interest and the relevant brands, usually 1 to 3 months before the purchase.
  2. Subsequently, a narrower selection is made, in which online reviews and feedback play a key role, especially those on social media. This data shows that social networks are a valuable resource for finding inspiration about which car model to buy, and YouTube videos are heavily consulted in the early stages of the buying process.
  3. Next comes the moment of the test drive, which takes place two to four weeks before the sale is finalised, when the potential buyer physically visits dealers and dealerships.
  4. Finally, comes the moment of the quotation and the final choice of purchase.

Throughout this journey, as many as 20 touchpoints are touched on average, different from each other and spaced out over time. The challenge for brands and dealers is to cover all these touchpoints and be found at the right time by the right people.

Within this context, Big Data is the most valuable weapon at the disposal of brands and dealers, as it enables them to obtain crucial information in order to drive the presale process and reach their target audience efficiently.

The role of Big Data for Presale in the Automotive Sector

The concepts of ‘Smart Data’ or ‘Deep Data’ are gaining more and more importance in the automotive sector, as data has become the oil of the digital age.

This information, the digital traces we leave online during the process of searching for and buying a car, is valuable because it provides insight into people’s characteristics, habits and expectations, both on a general and individual level.

By analysing and interpreting this data, car brands, dealers and retailers can gain an in-depth understanding of their target audience.

Data collection and analysis must be conducted on several levels, considering public sentiment and defining specific audience segments, e.g. based on geographic location or other social, demographic or psychological characteristics. 

This process, if done correctly, allows the target to be broken down into more specific micro-targets, enabling targeted and customised actions to be conducted.

This data-driven approach represents a new frontier in automotive marketing, enabling personalised sales strategies and an unprecedented level of effectiveness.

Conclusion

In conclusion, pre-sales in the automotive sector is of crucial importance for the success of companies and the achievement of satisfactory sales results. This pre-sales phase represents a critical time when companies can capture the interest of potential customers, interact with them and influence their purchasing decisions.

The recent pandemic has further highlighted the importance of adapting to market changes and embracing the digital era. Companies need to implement innovative strategies with the aim of creating engaging, personalised, multi-channel experiences that meet customers’ needs and expectations.

Accurate mapping of the sales path, intelligent use of data and the ability to communicate effectively are key elements to better presale. Offering incentives, promotions and exclusive offers can make the difference in convincing customers to complete a purchase.