A customer walks onto your lot and you knock on the glass window of your store to alert the salesperson on the point to greet the customer. The minute the customer steps foot out of their car and shows their face, your sales team surrounds them in an effort to address their needs. The moment you have an interested party in the showroom, they are being approached. Are you doing the same on your website?
The most successful sales professionals in all industries are not the ones who sit back and let all opportunities come to them. The best salespeople are usually not those that only field inbound leads. No, true sales experts understand that they must create their own business. They reach out and attempt to find business where others may not see it. The newest trends in live chat give you that advantage.
Our industry now knows that leads generated from chat dialogue tend to have some of the highest closing ratios in the store. It is a medium that does what email communication was originally intended to do, and that is to provide immediate gratification for the customer. However, 17 years of Internet activity in dealerships have proven to customers that submitting a lead will still, by and large, get them a response in four hours. What if they want answers sooner than that? Chat has been a very profitable platform where customers can communicate with an in-store agent who (hopefully) has enough information to answer their questions with immediacy and steer them in the right direction.
However, being quick on the trigger to respond back to inbound phone, chat and Internet opportunities is no longer enough if you are looking to maximize each and every opportunity you have to sell a car. Technology has afforded us the ability to view those customers meandering around on our websites and proactively reach out to them. When this initially developed, many dealers thought it was too aggressive of a tactic. “They’re just looking,” the dealer will say. And yet, that response from a customer in store is meant to be immediately overcome so you can continue down the path to a sale. Why should a client on your website be any different?
I recently sat in on a webinar that shared some remarkable statistics from a recent study regarding Live chat and the acceptability of its proactive nature. In the study, chatters are 7.5 times more likely to convert than visitors who don’t chat and those chatting purchase 24% of the time on average. Chatters who engage through a proactive invitation are eight times more likely to convert. To my surprise, their studies showed that of all customers who accepted a proactive chat invite, 94% were satisfied with the result of their interaction. I found that higher than I had anticipated and, for that reason, makes me support being more aggressive with your chat prospects.
Customers are finding new platforms in which to dedicate their time and, as their preferred methods of doing business becomes more fragmented, so must your technology grow. However, it is not just the technology itself that makes a difference, but how generously you dedicate yourself to exploring new tactics to utilize the technology.
Todd Smith, CEO of ActivEngage Inc., one of the leading automotive chat providers, says “Live chat continues to evolve from not only a consumers utilization standpoint, but also technically. I truly see live chat as the conduit of creating a more engaging website experience for the shopper.”
This is not just some trend that a few dealers take advantage of and countless others squander. Live chat alone has already become a movement and is generating profit in the majority of dealerships. This is the very reason Cars.com and AutoTrader have developed relationships with chat firms as well, in an effort to explore new avenues in which to drive interested parties to their dealer clients. As vendors have opened up these relationships and mediums for their clients, other dealers have been proactive in doing the same for the consumer.
Andrew DiFeo, general manager of Hyundai St. Augustine says, “We have been using chat on our website for over three years and it has consistently been one of our top performing lead sources as well as a nice convenience for our web site visitors. With just a static chat button on our site, we saw a limited number of chats. When we went to a more proactive approach with targeted chat invites based on the page the visitor was on, we were able to drastically increase the numbers of chats. Using a managed chat service has saved us a significant number of man-hours as well as expense. The chat advisors of our managed chat service (ActivEngage) respond quickly and are very efficient in providing the information the customer is inquiring about as well as setting both sales and service appointments.”
As new mediums take shape, new tactics to improve your engagement, conversion and closing ratio must be adopted as well. Proactive chat is proving itself to be another level of customer interaction that the public is accepting and dealers must embrace. Those that have are learning about the power of proactive chat.