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True story: I was on the phone with a dealer this week and he said he wanted to change the way the dealership handled live chat on the website.  He said he wanted to stop giving out detailed vehicle and other information and curtail the process of getting shoppers' contact information to continue communication via email and phone.  He said, "We just want to tell them to 'come on down to the dealership.'  I was floored.  I thought about my response and the dealer was a little confused when I told him he was a bank robber.  A bank robber goes into a bank where he has no money and demands money.  He has given nothing, made no deposits and yet expects the money.  This is exactly what you're doing if you still expect to gain shoppers' business without investing in the relationship and starting it online.  

Listening and responding to shoppers' queries is more important than ever, and your website offers one the easiest, most cost-effective ways to "listen" and respond to your customer and prospect needs.  This is 2009 and that old way of doing business is long dead.  You must give shoppers what they request online, or they will find what they're looking for at one of your competitors.  Quite simply, people today have unparallel access to information and services (including vehicle prices!) for the old method to fly any more.  You must make the investment in the relationship before you expect to get anything in return.  You cannot just say, "come visit the dealership" and expect to get people to do what you say.  WOW them with your personalized service and you will get their business and their loyalty.  And a lot of them will tell others about the experience.    

The same bank robber analogy goes for email and other lead management.  For example, I just received an email solicitation from a company I don't remember ever hearing of and I have no idea how they go my email address.  That's a little annoying, but not that big of a deal.  BUT, when I tried to opt-out of the mailing list, I got mad.  They had one of those impossible (possibly fake) opt-out systems and I ended up spending about 10 minutes just trying to figure out how to get off the freaking mailing list that I never signed up for, and wasn't really even relevant to my needs.  They tried to rob me, and they were quite successful at robbing me of some of my valuable time.  They clearly did nothing to understand me and merely tried to force themselves on me.  That just doesn't fly anymore.  You can't be a bank robber anymore and expect most people to give you their money.  Now I know that company's name by heart and would NEVER do business with them because they robbed me online.  

You've got to develop and invest in relationship building, starting online, by giving people what they want at your website.  And in many cases, this means accurate vehicle prices.  And research shows that most consumers aren't merely looking for the lowest price, but rather a competitive price.  Make sure you price competitively, and then woo them based on your level of service and understanding of their needs.          

We don't hear that much about bank robbers anymore because it's just about impossible to rob a bank today.  They are a thing of the past and method that doesn't work anymore.  Now ask yourself, am I still trying to be a bank robber?

Todd Smith
www.activengage.com
P: (800) 775-7358 x9200  
F: (877) 900-7222
C: 321-662-7800
E: todd@activEngage.com
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