Why the Road to a Sale is Dead and What’s Replaced it

The Road to a Sale (RTAS) as we know it is dead, and it has been for roughly 15 years. Learn why and see what's replaced it in this post.



The Road to a Sale (RTAS) as we know it is dead, and it has been for roughly 15 years. Salespeople have known this for years, but some sales managers have been slow to catch up, sometimes to the detriment of their dealership’s customers. 

What is the Road to a Sale? 

Firstly, what is the RTAS for those who are unfamiliar? In the automotive industry, it was a prescriptive 10-step program where salespeople were expected to control all aspects of their customer’s buying journey from start to finish. If they didn’t, they’d likely hear negative feedback from their sales manager, that they skipped a step or need to “get control of their customer.” 

Why is the Road to a Sale dead? 

Ever since customers gained the ability to submit inquiries about specific cars on dealership websites was the beginning of the end of the RTAS. This helped to put the customer in control, bucking the conventional salesperson-led process that was previously in place.  


The market evolution – it’s their buying journey 

Although customers were submitting leads online about specific cars, dealers were still asking people to immediately come in and follow their prescriptive 10 step process. Customers began showing dealers that they didn’t like this rigid process and started to shop around, comparing prices, in-stock inventory, etc. Customers began to design their own buying journey (and have done so for nearly everything they buy). Customers are accustomed to malleable buying journeys after 25+ years of technological experience which has shaped our expectations.  


People use an omni channel journey because it's easier 

When we want to buy something, we might do an online search or go directly to Amazon or a brand’s website. We might talk to a friend or do additional research offline. We might even turn to an online forum like Reddit’s AskCarSales to get tips and advice on car sales topics. Shoppers are leveraging multiple channels as needed during their buying journey and we’ve learned that people want to buy the way they want to buy. 

The customer’s currency is to make it easier, or else  

With the recent news about Amazon and Hyundai partnering up and Sonic automotive discussing their impending partnership with Amazon, its impossible to ignore the fact that people are designing their own buying journey. Our job at the dealership is not to be a roadblock but to accept the idea that making it easy is key (and to actually do it!). Easy becomes non-negotiable. If the difference between two dealerships (or one neighborhood dealership and Amazon) is negligible (price wise), customers may happily pay more for an easier buying experience. In this flat buying environment, where customers can make a u-turn and work with the dealer down the street in the blink of an eye, you have to be willing to be flexible with customers and work with where they are in their buying journey. Your job as a salesperson is to join their buying journey and help them. The ability of a dealership to accept the idea that easy is the customer’s currency is essential. Customers value easy. And if you make it easy, you’re likely going to make more profit in the long run. Miserable doesn’t equal profit.  

It must be easier online AND in-person 

All the fancy digital retailing tools that dealers have on their websites have been a tremendous help in making the online portion of the customer’s buying journey easier. Customers can compare vehicles, browse photos and videos, calculate their monthly payments, etc., but that ease needs to translate to when they come into the dealership as well. If it's only easier online but not in person, that’s not a good experience. When customers think the trade amount or monthly payments are going to be a certain amount online but they’re vastly different when they get to the dealership, it’s a bad experience for them. Then when people feel like they need to negotiate so strongly and write a bad review about the dealership afterwards, dealers shouldn’t be perplexed.  

It’s incredibly easy for customers to switch dealerships during the digital part of the buying experience (just hit the back button and return to the search results). In-person may take slightly more effort because it requires the customer to locate and drive to another dealership, which might not be that close. This has led many customers to just suck up the bad in-person processes because they think they have to but in reality, they don’t. They can, and often do, go where they will have a better experience.  

Change your team’s motivation 

Dealers who are driven solely by profits won’t be motivated to help make the process easier for their customers. If your team’s pay plan says that the more they can get for profitability, the more they get to take home, that’s going to be their main focus, not customer satisfaction. Pay plans that focus on customer satisfaction, customer retention, etc. will shift your sales team's focus to where it should be making sure the customer is happy.  

How Quantum5 can help your team 

Quantum5 is uniquely prepared to educate your team on a modern sales process, helping you pivot your existing processes and be even more successful. Our sales training curriculum helps salespeople make the buying experience easier for customers both online and in-person because making the process easier for customers is where all dealerships need to be. 

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