Remember how exciting phone calls used to be? When the landline phone would ring (here’s a concept) … we would answer it. No second thoughts, no hesitations — even before Caller ID was a thing.
“May I ask who is calling?” was a normal form of phone etiquette, and even if the person on the other end of the line was trying to sell you something, you’d wait until they stopped talking and politely say “no thank you” before hanging up the phone.
But you don’t need to watch an episode of The Newlead Game® to know that phone calls are now just about the least popular thing to do with our phones.
The increased volume of spam, scam, and robocalls spoofing local phone numbers certainly is a big contributing factor to the dramatic shift in user behavior. So much so that Hiya, in their recent State of the Phone Call Report, revealed that 94% of people won’t answer their phone if it’s coming from an unknown or unidentified phone number.
So what exactly does that mean for you and your team? Well it means that if the first step in your dealership’s process after receiving a new lead is to pick up the phone and call, then your chances of actually talking to that prospect are pretty slim. So maybe calling isn’t the best first step?
YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT YOU TO TEXT THEM
Like it or not, just like the use of a landline, gone are the days of the cold follow-up call. Your customers prefer to be contacted via text. In fact, 74% of consumers say they’d like to receive more text messages from businesses1.
So not only are your customers expressing they want to receive your text messages, but they’ll actually read your message (and presumably respond to it) FASTER than if you called and left a voicemail.
So only the question left is: how do you future-proof your follow-up process using text messages?
Well, the art of texting (yes, it is an art!) really comes down to keeping things friendly, helpful, and most importantly — fast. Communicating via text message is great, but the moment that you become too “pushy” or even not fast enough to respond, you can get a customer to ghost you just as quickly as you had them drop into your CRM as a lead.
Consider these tips when texting your customers:
Keep texts friendly and to the point: Include a brief introduction, but also keep the conversation moving ahead so they’ll want to stay engaged with you. Are there other trim levels that they could be interested in as well? Is the vehicle they’re interested in a high demand unit that would necessitate acting quickly?
Pique their curiosity with smart questions: When you ask relevant questions, you’ll start building trust and establishing a connection. So asking a question like “How time sensitive is your need for a new vehicle? Do you have to have it this week, or are you flexible because customers who place pre-orders are able to save an additional $1,000. What do you think?”. You may want to also mention any conditional rebates they may qualify for such as military or college grad.
Talk about their trade: Everyone is saying that they will offer top dollar for a trade-in these days. One way you can set yourself apart is getting that process started before they even walk in to the dealership. Text them a link that’ll open up the automated trade-in flow within Conversations and let them know they can get an estimated value for their vehicle in less than a minute.
While we strongly encourage you to text your customers, we should note that you and your team should not be texting them from your personal devices. With risks ranging from lack of oversight into messages being sent, to potential legal issues related to lack of opt-in and opt-out mechanisms, make sure your team has a texting tool (and training!) in place before fully update your follow-up strategy.
The good new is, if you already use our advanced messaging platform, Conversations, then you already have the tech you need to (safely and legally) follow up with any lead, regardless of source, via text.
MAKE TEXTING A PART OF THE ONLINE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Having a modern, end-to-end retailing experience is critical in today’s world because when it comes to car shopping, people don’t just add a vehicle to their cart and buy with one click like it’s some toaster on Amazon.
Shoppers still need your team’s expertise in exploring and discussing their options prior to making a purchase. So we want to challenge you to think differently about the sales opportunities that come from your digital retailing solution, and handle them differently than you would from any other lead that lands into your CRM.
Think about it. Why are your visitors using the available tools on your website in the first place? There could be (and are) a myriad of reasons, but what it really comes down to is being able to answer the all important “Can I Afford It?” question, and to ultimately save time spent at the dealership.
So the trick to successful follow-up is understanding where the lead originated from on your website, and then reaching out in a way that is a natural continuation of where the shopper left off.
That’s why it’s imperative you handle your digital retailing leads differently than you would a lead that originated from a form based CTA. The last thing you want to do is invalidate all of the time the customer invested up front to understand their payment options and save time, by relying on an automated email sent from your CRM saying something like, “thanks for submitting your information! What kind of vehicle are you looking for? One of our friendly team members will be in contact with you shortly!”.
Yeah, no. That’s a surefire way to scare your customers off forever.
You don’t need to overthink your follow-up here. Just stay focused on how you can help these customers save time. So don’t let your CRM email them, text them yourself! Introduce yourself as their personal shopper who’s going to make the entire process fast, easy, and fun. And don’t be afraid to step up your customer service game by texting something like, “I’ve got the 2022 Honda Accord you were exploring washed and pulled up to the front of the lot ready for a test drive for you! When can you come in?” And maybe even include a photo!
In other words — as much as you can — acknowledge that what they were doing on your website was received, and you’re there to keep things moving forward. Your customers will appreciate it!
While texting and digital retailing go hand in hand, if your solution doesn’t seamlessly integrate the two, then it’s going to be really challenging to maintain consistent contact with all of those sales opportunities.
That’s why we build not just texting capabilities into Online Shopper, but also the power to virtually desk all of your deals. So whether you’re working 1-on-1 with a customer, or are engaged with multiple shoppers at the same time, you have the ability to save your customers (and yourself!) even more time by collaborating on the details of their purchase, and also keep them engaged with text messages that include a magic link that’ll bring them right back to their digital garage on your website.
And speaking of saving time, it’s not just your customers who’ll appreciate having some of their life back. You’ll save yourself some time to when you bulk text your customers with the same message, while also providing each recipient a unique link back to their digital garage to continue their shopping journey.
IT’S ALL ABOUT 1:1 CONNECTIONS
It’s really not a secret as to why texting is so effective in following up with your customers. Not only is it the way consumers prefer to communicate today, but it truly is the way personal relationships are built. It’s much easier to create a 1:1 connection via text than it is through an awkward phone call (assuming you can even get someone to answer the phone).
Think about it like this…the car business has always been a people business. A shopper can’t buy a car without your help, and you can’t sell a car without a shopper to purchase it. So why wait for a website visitor to reach out to you, when your team can proactively greet each and every visitor to your website and encourage that connection?
You can do just that with Salesperson Connect from DealerRater® which allows your customers to create 1:1 connections with your top-rated salespeople right from your VDPs. Giving your customers the ability to choose who they want to work with at your dealership creates that instant connection, and practically guarantees your salespeople will be able to connect with each customer since they’re the ones who chose you.
IF YOU MUST CALL, CHECK YOUR CALLER ID FIRST
But even if you 100% agree that calling may not be the most effective way to make contact with a new sales opportunity, for a lot of dealerships — maybe even yours — making that call is still the required first method of outreach.
If that’s the case, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. You just want to make sure that you’re giving yourself the best chance to have your phone call answered by understanding how you show up on your prospect’s phone when you call.
Are you appearing as an unknown caller, or do you show up as the friendly neighborhood car dealer whose website they just used to explore payment options on a new vehicle?
What I mean by that is oftentimes a business’ phone system is an interconnected network of individual phone #’s which weren’t necessarily programmed with a proper Caller ID. So while your dealership’s main phone number properly identifies itself to other phones, the lines that your BDC agents and salespeople use to make their followup calls may not.
So before you make your next phone call, go to calleridtest.com and enter in each of your outbound phone numbers to see if there is a proper Caller ID associated with those lines.
If your dealership’s name is returned (note that Caller ID’s are limited to 15 total characters) then you’re good to go. But if just a City and State is returned, you now know that your phone calls have been a part of those that 94% of people won’t answer.
Now don’t worry if your outbound numbers aren’t programmed with a Caller ID, because you can fix it. All you have to do is reach out to your telephone provider and let them know which of your outbound lines you need to change the Caller ID on. They’ll be able to program that for you, and you’ll increase the chances of your phone calls actually being answered.
Just don’t get discouraged if your phone calls still aren’t picked up. While your gift of gab may be obsolete over the phone these days, know that with a little upfront texting, you can win your customers over by communicating the way they prefer and get them into the dealership so you can create a customer-for-life level bond.
Are you ready to embrace the text-first mindset to future-proof your follow up and make more meaningful connections? Drop us a line, we’d be happy to show you how!
120 Texting Stats That Prove Businesses Should Use SMS | Zipwhip May 2021