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Dealers’ Top 10 Tips For Using Chat to Set Sales Appointments


If your dealership has added live chat capabilities to your websites, social media, ad listings, etc., what happens next? What are your goals when a customer chats in? Obviously, one important goal should be to deliver the same sort of attention and experience that person would receive if he or she walked in your doors. Handled correctly, instant connections to real people and quick answers to chatted questions can help you deliver that...and more.


Case in point: Many dealers also use chat to accomplish tangible goals like setting sales appointments. How? We asked Contact At Once! power users to share what works bestfor them. Here are their top 10 tips for using chat to set sales appointments:


1. Remember: Chat is just another form of communication.

Chat may require different tech, but it’s still a one-on-one conversation. The more you treat it as such, the better the results. “Think of chat like a written phone call. Everything you would say on the phone can be ‘said’ in a chat,” explains one user.


2. Exercise polite patience.

In other words, don’t be pushy. Several provided this advice, which is a golden rule for any business.  Yes, you want to get that appointment and move the buying process along, but in the consumer’s eyes, you should be there for them. Speaking of...


3. Be human (make a meaningful connection).

Quite a few sales reps have appointment-setting success when they create real conversations. Even a joke about the weather can set a different tone and let the customer know that there’s a real person on the other end, not a machine. This can help you establish a personal connection, which can lead to more trust and willingness to set an appointment.


4. Answer their questions & be informative.

“I’ve found it’s better to be upfront with customers on their questions. The easier you make it for them, the more likely they are to trust you and make the appointment with you,” notes Josh Weston, Manager at Weston Buick GMC Kia.  


5. Keep them talking.

Milly, a Lead Representative at Evans Toyota, believes it’s important to keep customers active in the chat conversation. It can be as simple as asking “Is that okay?” after providing the information they asked for. Jason Barnes, City Chevrolet’s Internet Director, suggests taking it a step further: “Let the customer do most of the typing. Ask open-ended questions so they have a chance to tell you how to close the appointment.”


6. Turn service questions into sales opportunities.

Customers chatting in about service? They are opportunities to Cody O’Quinn, Sales and Leasing Consultant at Addison GM. “If customers chat in about a service appointment, I gather information on the vehicle and book it for them, then I mention that our dealership happens to be looking for quality, pre-owned vehicles like their own. We keep chatting and I build their curiosity. About two-thirds of my sales appointments now come from chats!”


7. Don’t forget to ask.

Prompt the appointment by asking...after you answer all their questions, of course. One way to build up to the ask is by texting or emailing customers pictures of the vehicle(s) of interest. Drew Hall, Leasing and Sales Consultant at Gates Chevy, Buick, GMC, often simply asks, “So when would be the best time for you to come check this thing out?” His laid-back tone puts customers at ease and results in a lot of appointments.


8. Schedule the appointment.

To solidify the appointment, Angela Reed, the Internet Manager at Brown’s Sales & Leasing, sets a date and then gives customers either/or options (morning or afternoon). She prefers to avoid appointments on the hour or half-hour marks, going instead for times like 1:15. “Setting them on the quarter hour means they generally show up on time or slightly early,” she says.


9. Tie the appointment to the chat.

You want to present a unified front from the digital to the bricks-and-mortar showroom, so prep for that appointment with the information gathered during the chat—show them what they’re there to see! That’s what David Fish, Sales Associate at Harper Volkswagen, advises. If customers see that their time spent chatting wasn’t wasted, they’ll be more likely to use that contact method again.


10. Do the same with fully managed chat.

Some dealerships rely on specially trained teams to handle chats on their behalf, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tie the experience together. “When I get the chat transcript and first get in contact with the customer, I thank them for chatting with my ‘personal assistant,’” says Chris Forsythe, Internet Director at David Stanley Dodge Midwest City and David Stanley Dodge Norman. “It builds an instant connection between the person who answered the chat for that shopper and myself, which builds trust right at the start of the conversation.”


Your turn. What other digital channels do shoppers use to ask questions and how do your teams turn those interactions into shows?

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