The Chief Purchasing Officer Drives your Loyalty and Referrals
By Katie Mares CTDP, MCATD, CPSA, CSP
Women not only hold the veto vote in the majority of household purchases (including vehicles), they also hold the power to make or break a very lucrative referral and loyalty stream.
I have mentioned in a previous article, Women Crave Connection, that women pride themselves on the successful relationships that they gain and keep. Women also pride themselves on the ability they have to make recommendations to their friends, colleagues, and family members. The flip side to recommendations is sharing a poor experience that women are equally as happy to spread like wildfire as they don’t want any of those they have relationships with to have the same poor experience.
Women have the passion and ability to help grow and support a brand or bring them down by word of mouth and now social media. The Chief Purchasing Officer takes this responsibility very seriously. Women are brilliant communicators and they take pleasure in sharing their experiences with anyone that will listen!
Unfortunately, more powerful is when she has a negative experience. These stories are spread far more quickly and widely than those of a positive experience.
Women Are Here And Are Staying
Women are more steadily increasing their presence as an influential consumer in traditionally male purchasing areas like the automotive industry. The reality is, we are not ready for her, we do not have the tools to give our team members to tailor the experience she receives in our dealerships in order to drive her loyalty and referrals. This male-dominated environment needs to step into the 21st century and start providing an experience that their female consumer wants and deserves.
The business you run is not a product business, it is a people business. Without your loyal customers and their referrals, you wouldn’t have a consistent flow of new customers, and your female consumers will deliver on this for you if you take the time to design an experience that breaks the script, is consistent, and genuine.
Women Are The Original Social Media
Before ‘social media’ even existed; women cultivated a social world through communication amongst anyone that would listen; now the whole world listens to what women have to say. In today’s social world, women actively use social media to share what’s happening in their life with new connections, friends, colleagues, and family. Men, on the other hand, tend to use social media to gather information about a topic of interest; not to share his life’s experience with all his buddies.
A Nielsen study shows that women spend 30% more time networking through the mobile web, or through apps every day than our male counterparts.
Keeping this social world in mind and the impact it can have on your Brand’s image, you’d be smart to pay attention to how you can create a loyal female following.
Creating A Loyal Female Following
Here are a few ways you and your team can cultivate loyalty amongst your female consumers to help drive her referrals through your doors.
1. Establish A Relationship
Establishing a relationship with your female consumer will go a long way. Unlike the male consumer, women are more likely to depend on a sales associate to provide them the required information they need to help make their decision. You’ll never uncover what information she truly needs if you don’t get to know her. Females want to be listened to, taken seriously and feel a connection with the Sales Associate; these factors drive her decision and her loyalty to you. One of the biggest differences between men and woman is this: women want to build a relationship with the Sales Associate whereas a man is happy to just complete the purchase.
2. Be Transparent
There is nothing worse than the stigma the Automotive Industry has; that all dealerships are filled with ‘greasy salesmen’ that only care about closing a deal, no matter the cost to the customer. Because of this stigma women (and men) are hypersensitive to the interactions that happen on the dealership floor and behind closed doors. I recently interviewed a dealer that changed the entire layout of his dealership to change this stigma and promote transparency. He said goodbye to cubicles, behind closed doors ‘deal making’, and promoted open communication. He has seen great success with these changes and has seen a lift in female consumers visiting his dealership.
Only you have the power to break the stigma and earn her trust.
3. Educate Them
Simply stated; don’t sell, educate through conversation and let your female consumers know how the vehicle will make their life easier. Studies have found that men’s brains are better at understanding and building systems whereas women’s brains are better at communicating (we use both sides of our brain to do this; where a man only uses one). When ‘selling’ to a woman remember that they still need to know all the facts about the vehicle, you just have to change your approach to a more educational conversation showing you care about how you can help make her life easier.
4. Stay In Touch
Bridget Brennan, CEO of the Female Factor, states “If there’s one issue I hear more than any other, it’s that salespeople don’t follow up when they say they will.” Following up and staying in touch with your female consumer will go a long way in her satisfaction with your dealership. The Decision Maker wants to know she can rely on you and that you care about her and her family. Brennan goes on to say that following up is “one of the most powerful ways to build credibility”. Stay in touch with your female customers- even if it’s not about purchasing a car!
What Does This All Boil Down To?
If you want your female consumer to be a Brand Evangelist show her you care and are credible enough to earn her loyalty and referral. Credibility leads to trust, trust leads to loyalty, and loyalty leads to a referral stream that keeps on flowing.
Katie Mares CTDP, MCATD, CPSA, CSP is available to train your organization and brings her expertise to the automotive industry. She is a dynamic speaker at Women in Automotive and Digital Dealer Conferences. Among her offerings:
- Program Development
- Brand Standards
- Leadership Development
- Coaching Sessions
- Retail Workshops
- In-Dealership Implementation
- Ongoing Support