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In social media or dealer chat, engage the customer: expert

April 27, 2012
By Bill Sengstacken, Contact At Once!
Like most businesses, automobile dealerships have warmed to the concept of social media. Your dealership likely has a Facebook page, probably has a Twitter account. Some have already established a presence on Google+.
While establishing these accounts is a great start, these actions do little good if you don’t actively engage with the consumer in a fashion which builds both rapport and trust.
A common mistake both with social media interaction and with dealer live chat is to try to sell a vehicle in the initial conversation. That may sound counter-intuitive — after all, you’re in the business to sell cars, right?
But just like when a customer visits your location, there is a time and a place to close the deal. Admittedly, every situation is unique. But as a general rule, you need to build that rapport and take some time to understand the customer’s needs.
Once that is accomplished, you likely can move to a test drive, and the potential for a sale increases from there.
More than a few eager dealers post or tweet statements like “We have over 40 new Nissans in stock—call me now!” Then they wonder why they receive no response.
There are a number of reasons why this tactic doesn’t work, but the main one is that they are posting a statement. While it may be a fact that the dealer has 40 Nissans in stock, making a statement doesn’t invite a response.
The savvy dealer instead uses the information in a more engaging way, posting a question such as, “Would your commute be better in a new Nissan? We have 40 in stock — what color would you like?”
Granted, not everyone is going to respond to that, but by asking a question you may get a response such as “I wish I could afford a blue one.” Now you have an opening to speak about special deals or financing offers, or it could open a conversation about your pre-owned inventories. The key, of course is to get the conversation started.
Similarly in dealer chat scenarios, if a customer starts a chat conversation, it is wise to respond with some simple questions such as “Hi, my name is Bill, what’s your name?”
In the Robert Cialdini book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” a key takeaway is that if you give somebody something, they are predisposed to give something back. If you give someone your name, as an example, you’re very likely to get a name back.
The author is director of marketing at the dealer chat provider, Contact At Once!