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Auto Dealers Build Trust by Personalizing Follow-Up Emails


Auto dealers know the follow-up process is one of the most critical elements of lead conversion.  This is especially true for leads generated through automotive live chat.  To be successful in this business and build trust with consumers, dealers must follow-up with leads quickly and be precise and specific in their communication.  For leads generated from automotive live chat, the chat transcript holds vital information about the prospect’s desires and how far along he or she is in the conversion funnel.

But, how can auto dealers be specific, personal and build trust in a timely manner?

Understandably, auto dealers hate to email out a price without first talking to someone.  Dealers should simply focus on continuing to build the relationship with the prospective customer that was initiated by the live chat conversation while providing information that move the customer forward in the sales process.

In this blog, we analyze a real-life situation in which a dealer failed to follow-up appropriately with a chat lead.  Then, we discuss appropriate and effective ways to follow-up with chat leads (and all Internet leads) so that they convert into sales and move forward in the sales process.

Below is an example of a failed follow-up process, straight from the chatter’s mouth…er, their fingers.

“Hello. Not too sure if you can answer my question. But how long does it usually take to get the bottom line price on a car? I originally inquired on 1.26.12 and then again yesterday. I have received the same auto reply/generic email thanking me for my interest.

Its okay. I just wanted to know if the manager would take the time to reply or if I should just forget about it and move on.”

Nothing is worse than spamming your leads with robotic, impersonal auto-replies.  Something we stress to our auto dealer clients is to always be personal in your follow-up responses.  As you can see from the last sentence of the chat, this ready-to-buy prospective customer has lost all trust is on the verge of giving up on the dealership.

So dealers, how would you salvage this situation and prevent it from happening in the future?  Here are a few tips:

Send a personal email

A personal touch is all your prospects are looking for.  It doesn’t have to be long – both you and the customer live busy lives – 3 to 5 sentences addressing the situation will salvage the sales process.  Using the phrase, “My online sales assistant let me know you were interested in ______,” can be very effective.  Fill in the blank and take it from there.  Also, don’t forget to include a call to action.  Never end an email with a statement!  Conclude your email with a question to prompt a response.

Follow-up with relevant and specific information

  • Confirm special features/options on the vehicle ( something as simple as leather seats or advanced options like Bluetooth)
  • Confirm availability (and interior color and condition if it is pre/owned)
  • Send a pic of the actual vehicle and offer to send more
  • Give a bullet point of what the next steps are in the buying process
  • Explain advantage of buying from you
  • Remind the prospect of what is needed for the test drive( license, and whatever else they may want)
  • Provide info on what services or reconditioning on the pre-owned vehicle has been done

Read what is given to you

Read the chat transcript, form lead or any other consumer insights you have.  Know what the customer wants and give it to them.  It’s that easy!  Remember that the chat conversation has already developed a relationship between your dealership and the prospective customer.  An impersonal auto-response removes the customer entirely from the sales process and ruins your rapport.

By acting as an advocate in the follow-up process, auto dealers can provide consumers with  information and then ask questions to assist them in moving forward through the sales process.  Keep in mind that consumers don’t buy a car every day, week, month or year.  Every “inside” tip you give prospects builds upon the trust already established by the live chat conversation.

Remember, the leads received through automotive live chat are a product of a two-way conversation.  A template email saying thanks for your interest just stalls customers and erodes any trust built during a live chat conversation.

Remember, the leads received through automotive live chat are a product of a two-way conversation.

In addition to these tips, ActivEngage CEO Todd Smith offers additional advice that will not only help ensure auto dealers successfully transform chat conversations into leads, but will help them stand out in the marketplace during the critical follow-up process.

Watch Todd’s video for more ideas:

How do you follow-up with leads?  Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation as the dealer above?  How did you salvage the relationship?

Let us know in a comment below!

Jim Bell
When I do mystery shops,this is what I look for to a T. I just laugh to myself and realize this is my competition. Kinda sad to be honest. We have a different follow up for our chat vs our traditional leads. These potential customers think they have a relationship already and we just have to build on it.

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