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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Jeff Sterns

Jeff Sterns VP Sales and Business Development

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Help First, Sell Second with Chat

Helping

Selling comes naturally for many of us in the car business...

In most conversations, people in the automotive industry have a tendency to turn the conversation with the techniques we've been taught - building rapport, qualifying, leading the conversation, listening for hot buttons, etc.

On website chat, there's a slightly different mentality required to make it work. Unlike phone and face-to-face conversations, it's more challenging to utilize our natural and trained skills to lead people towards the goal. We have to, in many ways, earn the right to ask for the lead. This is contrary to some philosophies that attempt to go straight for the lead information on chat, but it's better to talk them through it rather than force the issue.

There are two common scenarios that we see on chat today. First, there are those who answer the chat and reply to any question with a request for contact information. Even if they ask something simple like, "what time do you close," the response is always, "I'm not sure but I'll check on that and contact you. May I have your phone number and email address, please?"

The second growing phenomenon is the "lead gate". In this scenario, requests for chat are prompted with a form getting all of their information up front. If they want to ask a simple question, they have to fill out a lead form just to be able to get through to people. It's like calling the dealership and having the receptionist answer by saying, "Thank you for calling Sterns BMW. May I have your name, phone number, and email address, please?"

On the surface, it can seem like a good idea to ask for the information up front. If they're serious, they'll leave the information, right? Wrong. Just because people aren't wanting to leave their information for the dealership doesn't mean they're not serious about buying a car. In fact, many people prefer chat because it's less risky to them. They aren't having to talk to a salesperson on the phone and they don't have to wait for a reply via email.

The wonderful part about chat is that we've seen thousands of instances over the years where a person is a bit standoffish from the start, but after being helpful and answering their questions quickly and informatively, they are willing later in the chat to give their contact information to the chat operator.

Earning a lead on chat means that you're starting off by meeting their needs so that they're more willing to meet your needs. That's the give and take that makes top dealerships the most successful.

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