Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to get people to do something for you after you’ve done something for them? Social psychologists call this the “Law of Reciprocity” and, in a nutshell, the theory is that when we do something for others, it creates a sense of obligation from them when asked for something in return. Dealers have practiced this concept for years – whether they know it or not. It’s built into the most basic sales processes most dealers use. In example, when you greet a customer, you don’t ask for their name first. That may put them on their guard. However, when you present yourself offering your name first, it’s natural in any setting for the person you are talking with to reciprocate and tell you their name.
When applied correctly, this law can assist you in establishing trust and rapport with a customer more quickly than normal. When a customer comes into your dealership, it’s infinitely easier to build rapport for them if you can show them that you are genuinely there to help them. Oftentimes, salespeople are guarded and don’t want to answer questions out of fear – fear of saying the wrong thing, fear that their answers will add obstacles on the road to the sale, or fear that the customer may discover their lack of knowledge. By assisting the customer in a genuine way and answering any questions they have honestly, you’ll establish credibility in their eyes and perhaps lift the guard that many customers naturally enter dealerships with.
The same concept applies in digital marketing. Your website is, for all intents and purposes, your virtual dealership. When customers enter your virtual dealership, how are you greeting them? Are you providing the information that they need? Many dealer websites place obstacles that cause friction in the conversion process. Consider the customer who entered your website looking for pricing on a vehicle. If you force them to fill out a form before giving them a price, you are asking them to give you something of value – their personal information – yet you haven’t given them anything. If you want to increase your conversion rates, try being more transparent and offering more information up front. It establishes your dealerships credibility and shows a willingness to be helpful.
This lack of transparency and obstacles to conversion are the exact reason that visitors leave a dealer’s website to gather information on third-party sites. They leave because those sites give them what they’re looking for up-front. You don’t have to convert to see a price on shopping portals but I guarantee that customers convert more on those shopping portals for the simple reason that they were given the information they were looking for. I can’t think of any dealer or vendor that would disagree with the fact that the best leads (ie. those that are the highest converting and have the best closing ratio) are organic leads yet by forcing customers to visit other sites to gather information, dealers end up paying $25 or more for a third-party lead that was sent to 4 dealerships and closes at 8% or less.
Review your website from a fresh set of eyes. Become the customer and see how much information you can actually get. Look for a price on a new vehicle or used vehicle. See if you have information on service. Can you contact someone at your dealership from your website? What calls to action do you have and are they offering the customer a reason to give you their information.
In essence, are you telling them your name first or are you asking them to give you theirs?
Using the concept of the Law of Reciprocity when implementing any digital marketing strategy is very powerful. Give consumers the information up-front, be transparent and helpful, and offer them something of value. You’ll find that you’re beginning your new relationship one-step ahead and, once they convert, you’ll have already established some rapport and credibility which will make them much more likely to come into your dealership and much more likely to buy a car.