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Paul Moran

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Communicate More Effectively with Your Customers

In the race to make a sale, dealerships often rely on templates in CRMs. These templates – including autoresponders – can hurt a dealership’s chances of communicating effectively -- or at all.

The response rate for leads is very low in the automotive industry. How much time do your salespeople or BDC agents spend calling a new lead, or sending an email, fail to reach the customer and get zero response? And how frustrated do they get as a result?

Well, perhaps that is because the customer can tell the messages from your staff are in no way personal, but are simply scripted, lacking any emotion or enthusiasm. The same goes for email templates. Customers can tell the difference between a template and a personal response directed to the individual. Which do you think a customer would be more interested in responding to? Think about those calls you get on your phone that begin with a recorded message followed by a “stay on the line” type message. Do you actually stay on the line? My guess is no.

What, then, can a dealership do to improve the effectiveness of their communications and increase the likelihood that a customer will actually answer the phone or respond to an email?

Be different!

Depending on where the lead came from, there is a high probability that you are not the only dealership who received that lead. And it is also likely that other dealerships have similar response templates. Any customer bombarded with these templated responses, which are essentially the same, will quickly realize that nobody is actually doing much to engage with them, or answer their questions.

Even those dealerships who do send out personalized responses have a problem. Far too often the time between the lead coming in and the dealership responding is abysmally long, causing the customer to get frustrated, lose interest and perhaps go elsewhere. Frequently customers are looking to buy a vehicle that same day. Any dealership which fails to respond promptly with personalized information could easily miss out on a sale.

So, what can your dealership to do engage customers and win the sale? Here are a few tips:

1.   Personalize your messages – Today’s consumers want to feel valued and special. Email templates and 20 phone calls just won’t cut it anymore. They’ll simply ignore you or get annoyed and go elsewhere for their sales and service business. Be sure to respond quickly and ensure your responses are relevant to whatever questions the customer asks.

2.   Rich Communication – In today’s age of Facetime and live streaming video, many customers prefer to interact with someone face-to-face. If your dealership can’t currently live stream, there is an option that’s easy and inexpensive… video. Don’t you think a customer would be more interested in interacting with a salesperson who takes the time to send them a personal video response, rather than a templated email from the CRM?

3.   Avoid Spam Filters – You could be sending good quality emails which the customer never sees as they end up in their spam folder. Talk to your email provider and make sure your emails conform with their policies and best practices. Certain keywords, too many links and/or too many images can trigger email providers to send your communications to spam folders. Do it enough – as in non-conforming email templates -- and you could end up blacklisted. Then nobody will get any emails from your dealership.

The bottom line is that you cannot sell a car to someone if they don’t get a fast response from you, or somehow get no response at all. Nor can you sell a vehicle if the person believes that you’re not bothering to respond to them personally but are just sending an automated response. They will just choose someone else.

Personalize your communications, make them relevant and incorporate multimedia. Your lead response rate will increase, and customers will not only respond, they do so because they’ve chosen your dealership.

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