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Three Tips for Selling Your Vehicle Pipeline and Special Orders

Three Tips for Selling Your Vehicle Pipeline and Special Orders

There’s a shift underway from selling stock to selling pipeline and special orders, and this may be the new normal. Experts predict vehicle shortages will last through 2022. Even when inventory rebounds, this new way of buying may be here to stay.

Customers are getting used to the idea of ordering a vehicle and waiting for it to arrive. Ford took 74,000 new vehicle retail orders in November 2021 — which is an increase of 64,000 over the previous November. If customers are open to this new sales paradigm, and dealers can save on floor expenses, why shouldn’t this be standard?

Increase customer loyalty and buyer satisfaction with these targeted strategies. Start by focusing on the following areas:


Many dealer websites deliver a poor customer experience because they weren't designed to highlight virtual inventory or vehicle ordering. In a recent article about this topic, auto expert Brian Pasch noted that if a vehicle isn’t in stock, most website companies remove the model from website search tools. This hurts the shopping experience and SEO.

To keep customers engaged, continue merchandising these vehicles by adding a special message to the search results. This can be as simple as a banner that directs customers to call you if they are searching for a high-demand vehicle. Other dealer website providers choose to include an easy-to-read Build/Locate tag next to models that are not in stock.

Paragon Honda in New York includes all models on its website with a clear message about the ability to reserve and build vehicles. They also create detailed research pages for every model whether in stock or not, so every model and trim is represented on the site. This is good for SEO and even better for customers shopping high-demand vehicles.

You should also make sure to include virtual new inventory on third-party lead sites. This will help drive leads into your CRM.

Lead Response

The shift from selling stock to pipeline is monumental for most sales teams. Without a sales plan in place, salespeople flounder and either don’t respond to leads or revert back to old-school selling and pressure the customer to come in to see what else is available.

Just because you don’t have a vehicle don’t assume you can’t do anything for a customer. You always have the ability to order or trade vehicles.

Now is the time to elevate lead responses based on radical transparency. Be clear about what inventory is virtual and what’s in stock. Be clear about the time frame, whether it’s a few weeks or months. Be clear about what differentiates your dealership. For example, let customers know they can complete paperwork electronically and take delivery of their new vehicle at home.

Create new email and text templates for sales that clearly describe how your dealership is ready to help customers order or build the vehicles they want.

Most importantly, you should remain focused on your customer experience. This is your chance to stand out from your competition and keep your CSI scores high.

Equity Mining

Every dealer with a CRM has a simple way to find customers that are likely to purchase or order.

Create an equity mining strategy that pinpoints customers who bought at least three years ago and craft messaging around the benefits of proactively securing their next vehicle now.

Your salespeople should make time for five or six high-priority follow-ups every day. Prioritize the proactive activities that fill the pipeline to maximize long-term results.

The Service drive is also an excellent place to tout your pipeline and ordering capabilities. Assign one salesperson each day to review Service appointments for qualified prospects and then create a personal proposal for each customer. Include details about how easy it is to build and order online, and what the customer can expect for the trade-in.

Selling pipeline and special orders is a logical shift — especially as customer buying behavior shows that they’re willing to wait for the perfect vehicle. You can take advantage of this shift with merchandising, communication and equity mining strategies that deliver a great experience for customers shopping for high-demand vehicles.

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