Volvo makes strides in fleet market
Volvo is anticipating that its true fleet sales will be around 17,000 in 2019; an increase of 3,000 units and a year-on-year increase of 18%.
The growth reflects the Swedish brand’s rising popularity and looks particularly impressive in what is effectively a stagnant market (SMMT figures show the year to date with a 0.3% increase in the overall fleet sector).
The Volvo XC60 is the company’s biggest seller, but it expects that model to be eclipsed by the XC40 in 2020 – especially as there will be BEV and PHEV variants joining petrol and diesel cars next year.
A number of initiatives have, alongside a raft of new and desirable models, helped Volvo make greater inroads into the fleet market, as sales director Matt Galvin told Fleet World.
“The first thing is a programme called ‘Test Drive Plus,’ which is an online booking tool we launched early this year. It has been a real success. We have had lots of bookings through this solution, which aims to offer customers complete flexibility about where they have a test drive, whether they are a fleet customer or retail customer.
“They can have a test drive at their office or they can have a test drive on an extended loan period of three or four days. What we have seen is the customers, including fleets, are keen to interact with their retailer. Over 90% of the customers who book test drives have been from conquest brands as well. The online booking portal aims to make life easier, with a really transparent calendar system and complete choice over where that test drive is taken.”
Another reason behind an uptick in Volvo’s fleet sales this year has been the establishment of a new team of what the company calls virtual sales managers, designed to concentrate on sales to SMEs.
Galvin explained the role, saying: “Once a lead is generated, they call the small business and arrange a demo. The car can be delivered to the potential customer’s workplace or their home, and they can have it for a day, or two days, or three days. It’s completely flexible, depending on the customer and what they want to achieve from that test drive.
“The virtual sales managers can then arrange quotes and pricing that effectively takes the hassle away from the buying process of the car. They also liaise with the retailer once the car has been sold, with the retailer taking the process to the next stage. That’s been a real success this year and I think next year we can look at increasing that team.
“At the beginning of the year, we needed to define strategy on both SME and large corporate, because we were trying to deal with them using the same team. But the customer who runs five cars and the customer who runs 500 cars are very different animals, so we needed to differentiate and put a strategy in for SME and large corporates. And it’s worked really well: until the end of November, there was a 37% increase just on SME sales alone.”