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Virtual Customers are Real Customers, Too

Max

I remember working internet leads around the turn of the millenium. It was funny because at the time, there were many at the dealership who didn't even have an email address. My, how times have changed.

There was a statement by the general manager that struck me and ended up sticking with me to this day. He was lecturing his brand new internet department, something that none of his competitors had. His internet department was... me.

He told me, "Do whatever you can to get them in but don't treat them like real people unless they call or come by. They aren't real until they have a voice."

Today, most dealers (and everyone on Driving Sales, I would hope) know that this is far from reality. Today, people are using the internet to do more than ever before. They're shopping your inventory while on test drives at a competitor. They're doing research from the toilet. It's a digital age. We all know that.

What we often forget, particularly on social media, is that it's extremely important to treat people the same way you would treat them if they were standing there in front of you. The difference between people talking to you from your website and people talking to you through social media is similar to the difference between someone talking to you while on the lot and someone talking to you at the grocery store.

Sounds weird, I know, but stay with me.

Old school car people are familiar with the type of networking that we were taught back in the day. We were told that we should always be ready to talk to people no matter where we are. Cocktail parties, church, the grocery store - all were once considered opportunities to network. As we strike up conversations and it steers towards what we do for a living, we were taught to talk about car sales and continue to make a friend.

Network marketing is not new. It's not something created as a result of social networking. It's been around for ages. That's what's happening on social media, though, and it's the reason that every conversation should be pursued.

Facebook Conversation

Here's a long conversation that took place on one of our Facebook pages. As you can see, it wasn't a one or two point conversation. Just as if we were standing in front of the person sipping on wine and talking about the weather, it's important to have these types of conversations with those people who are talking to you.

Here's another example.

Virtual Customer

The first question that a dealer would ask is, "What's the point?"

Again, just as we were taught back in the day, you never know when a casual conversation will be enough to impress someone to want to do business with you. It doesn't take a ton of time or effort. More importantly, it doesn't have to be a dedicated, distracting conversation. You can be doing your work and checking in on your Facebook conversation from time to time to see how it's going and to reply. You're probably doing it already with your friends and family, right?

It's easy, but it does take time. We know that. It's one of the reasons that we monitor and manage our client's pages 7 days a week. Social media is biggest on the weekends, but who wants to be doing it every day? Thankfully, we work in shifts.

Don't dismiss these conversations. Don't let them hang or fade away. Embrace every opportunity you have to talk to a local person. They aren't right there in front of you, of course, but that doesn't mean they won't be in front of you ready to buy a car tomorrow, next week, or next month. Make the effort.

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