Time Matters: A Sale Can Be Won or Lost in Just 8 Seconds

It’s no secret that transaction time is increasingly important to consumers when purchasing a vehicle. And, by the time they arrive on the lot they have already spent countless hours trying to not only figure out what vehicle they are interested in, but where they may want to buy that vehicle.


So, at the point when a customer then arrives on the lot, customer experience is absolutely key. Dealers can have the prettiest and most user-friendly website, along with the best digital marketing in the world. But, if the customer shows up to the dealership and the environment is inconsistent with the standard they became familiar with online, that first impression and initial experience can turn into a huge negative. And, any confidence that they came to the right place can be completely negated – almost instantly.


Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. A 2015 study from Microsoft involving more than 2,000 people found that the average attention span has dipped to a low 8 seconds – down from 12 seconds in 2000. To put this in perspective, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds!


According to Microsoft, “the changes were a result of the brain’s ability to adapt and change itself over time and a weaker attention span may be a side effect of evolving to a mobile internet.” And, we already know how much time car shoppers spend researching online, especially on mobile devices.


So, what does this mean when it comes to that customer on your lot? If the attention span is truly that low, what can you do to make the most impact within those first few seconds?


Well, this is where strategic and professional lot merchandising becomes important. How your dealership presents matters. The environment you create, the image you convey, and the message you send (intentionally or not) all matter. And, it all influences shoppers on your lot, their "customer experience," and ultimately their purchase decisions - for better or worse.


The fact is people interpret and retain visual communication much more than verbal. Visual cues are more effective. Think about Wal-Mart and their “Rollback” signs. Or Target, you only need see that red bullseye to know where you are!


Ever heard the saying, “None of what I hear and half of what I see?” Research shows that 93 percent of individuals state that they look at all visuals when they enter a store. And 65 percent of individuals report that they are visual learners, meaning they pay more attention to visuals than to spoken words. Visual data sinks in more effectively. In addition, for these consumers, visual messages increase retention by as much as 42 percent.


This being the case, it makes sense that a good first step is to have a visually inviting lot with the right information prominently and tastefully displayed on each vehicle and throughout the premises. And it may be a good idea to train your salespeople to let that customer look around for a bit first. Let them know you are there to help but give them that time to soak in that visual data, and the verbal information can follow a few minutes later.


Make that first 8 seconds count. As 93 percent of customers will look at visuals when they enter the store, many dealers could improve customer experience with strategic, professional visuals that effectively engage, inform, and influence customers by providing easily accessible information that helps them make decisions and directs their experience at the dealership. This can help drive sales and productivity by creating a more cohesive dealership environment that is easy for customers to navigate and enjoyable to shop.

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