By Tim James
According to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom, the “working-from-home” economy is likely to exist far beyond the pandemic. Employers are enjoying decreased expense in office space and increased employee productivity, while employees have more freedom with the luxury of no longer having to commute. A whopping 42 percent of U.S. employees are now working from home.
How are they able to do that? Via Video, of course.
Statistics increasingly show video as the preferred choice for consumers when it comes to media due to its viability and multiple benefits across all platforms and channels. And, during the pandemic, video has become the most used method of communication on all fronts.
Almost every company outside of essential workers is utilizing video services to efficiently continue their operations and stay in business. Video conference calls have become the norm, rather than the exception and video conferences or person-to-person video calls have exploded out of necessity.
According to Forbes, this digital pivot may become permanent – in all walks of life. Many students are having to do in-home learning and the only way some employees can continue professional development is via video. Trade shows and conferences are opting to hold virtual events First, because it is safer during a pandemic, second because it is much less expensive than in-person events, and third because viewers can choose to watch an event live, or later at a more convenient time.
Video is not going away and is certainly not losing any ground. Its popularity has exploded faster than was expected! When this pandemic eventually goes away, consumers and businesses alike will be fundamentally transformed.
As a marketing and sales tool, video will allow your team to inspire more emotion from a consumer than a text, email, or chat could ever get close to accomplishing. Think about this — when are your sales associates at their best? When they are face-to-face with a consumer, of course. An effective video marketing strategy embraces that understanding and puts your sales associates face-to-face with the consumer, even when the consumer is still at home.
Your dealership would be wise to have a video-first marketing strategy to place you in a position of dominance over your competition who may only use video as a stopgap out of necessity.
Be sure to embrace video now more than ever to take advantage of this extreme acceleration in video adoption by consumers. This will put your dealership ahead of the game and build a sound foundation from which your dealership will benefit for decades to come.
By: Tim James
During these times, consumers are becoming more comfortable with online transactions and are much savvier about how they chose to communicate with businesses. As a result, dealers are having to utilize technologies they may not have previously embraced
Video, in and of itself, has proven to be a necessity for successful marketing for dealers. In today’s world, live video is even more important. But not everybody does it as well as they could!
A great article on Business2Community lays out some simple best practices dealerships can use while performing a live video for a prospective car buyer. These tips are great for salespeople or BDC agents who communicate with your customers.
Here are three of the top tips:
Pause! – When you are having a conversation with someone and they do all the talking – that quickly gets old, right? A one-sided conversation is not something many people enjoy which leads to the first tip in the article, Pause!
You have the customer’s attention. You have them on a live stream and, just like selling a car in person, you need to listen to their needs and wants. You have to listen to tailor that walkaround and your conversation to supply the information they requested. Listening is also how you find out what is important to them so that you can tailor your conversation to that specific customer.
It is much more effective to listen to your customers, answer their questions, and proceed to the sale than to dominate the conversation. Take a breath. Don’t worry about the uncomfortable pause. As long as the customer is still with you, you don’t need to fill the gap with conversation. They may be digesting what you have already told them and considering their next questions. If they don’t ask any questions, you can easily prompt them by saying something along the lines of, “Should I proceed with the other features I was going to show you or did you have specific things you would like to see?” — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.
Engage – The customer didn’t agree to a live video engagement because they weren’t interested in the vehicle. The very reason that they are on a live video call with you is that they are VERY low funnel and in the market RIGHT NOW! Think about all the Internet leads your dealership gets and how hard it is to contact the majority of these opportunities. Here you not only have a customer that engaged with you but one that agreed (or requested) to do a live video call about a specific vehicle.
Perhaps something about the vehicle which they inquired about doesn’t suit their needs. Since you have them live, you can easily ask them if you could show them similar vehicles you have in stock and, essentially, show them multiple vehicles.
What’s the other option? The customer doesn’t like the one you showed them and disengages simply to move on to the next dealership. Don’t waste the opportunity to show them more inventory. You only need to ask them — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.
Eye Contact – While you may not be able to see the customer, the customer can see you. If you aren’t looking into the camera while engaging, you lose the opportunity to build rapport. Most of our communication is physical. We typically read expressions and interpret answers by how someone is looking and/or physically gesturing. In a live video, the customer can see you. By making eye contact with them, it is much more personal.
How do you do that? By looking into the camera, itself. Not just at the phone. You can practice with another salesperson beforehand to get the hang of it. When you are talking to the customer, look directly into the camera. To them, it will seem as if you are talking to them rather than seeing your eyes focused elsewhere. — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.
Smile – There’s magic in your smile and smiling while engaging in a video call can be one of the most important strategies for success. Smiling while on the video call will not only help you relax and improve your mood and energy, it will also help the consumer relax. Remember, it’s not only “what you say,” but “how you say it” that matters. The video call is your opportunity to build a personal relationship with the consumer and get them to truly like you. We all know that people buy from people they like, and a simple smile while engaging the consumer is scientifically proven to improve your chances of being liked — just like you would if they were physically on your lot.
Live video has never been more important in the sales world. Buying a car is a big decision for most customers, typically the second-largest purchase any consumer makes. Regardless of whether you are open for business completely, or only online, consumers are getting more comfortable with online shopping. If you are a veteran in the automotive industry, think about how different your communication strategy was in 2010 versus 2020. Now imagine how different it will be in 2030. Trust me, the next ten years are going to fly by, so make sure you stay ahead of the competition and are prepared for the acceleration and adoption of this technology by consumers. Great conversations certainly lead to more sales. And live video is a highly effective way to have great conversations with your customers.
By Tim James
Every penny spent on advertising and marketing is to get more people into the dealership. Dealers also make a significant investment in the salespeople themselves, training them to help develop the person-to-person skills needed to sell to all the prospects marketing dollars drive into the dealership. Those person-to-person skills are where most automotive salespeople excel, it is what they are best at. Phone calls, emails, text messages, or online chats may not be their biggest strengths. However, put them face to face with someone and they excel. But how are salespeople supposed to ‘get them in’ when countrywide shutdowns and capacity limits are encouraging shoppers to stay home as much as possible? The answer is video conferencing, also known as video calling or video chat.
It is a different world now – today doctors conduct many patient appointments via a live video conference. Many doctors are scheduling video appointments, our children are using video conferencing to go to school right now, and most of you reading this are utilizing video conferencing at your workplace to replace onsite meetings.
Live communication in this way is becoming the new normal– all kinds of shopping is accelerated to the next level via a live stream. Well, guess what, vehicles are no different. During the pandemic, and even before, dealers have been utilizing tools such as Zoom to engage with customers via live video and it is not hurting sales, in fact far from it, it is helping to sell more cars than ever before by making it easier to shop the way today’s customers want to. And it is a safe secure, method, for practically zero budget!
There is one thing that I know for sure and that is video sells. An unfortunate misconception is that vehicle details shared outside the dealership walls can demotivate shoppers from visiting a dealership. You cannot sell them a car if you don’t “get them in”, right? This misconception may prevent some dealers from realizing the full potential of video in nearly every department from sales to service to F&I. Selling a consumer is, was, and will always be about getting the consumer emotionally attached to The Dealership, The Sales Person, and The Car. The pandemic has pushed more shoppers than ever before into shopping online. COVID-19 certainly has motivated more dealers to incorporate video into their sales and service processes. Now, a way to trump your competition is to go one step further and embrace live video conferencing to inspire the emotional connection.
In fact, the most immediate benefit of live video calls is that salespeople now have an opportunity to use those natural person-to-person sales skills they have spent their entire careers perfecting. Even the most technophobic salesperson can engage with the most cutting-edge technology utilizing live video calls. If they can answer a phone, they can answer and make a live video call. It really is that simple, it’s safe, and consumers love it!
It is easy to incorporate live video calls directly from your website. Think about how many website visitors you have every day and imagine being able to instantly engage with them on their terms. It is like having a live service or sales window on your website Today’s customers have grown used to being serviced on their terms, not yours. Also, your sales and business development staff can ‘cut to the chase’ and get into direct contact with customers, eliminating hours of back and forth via calls, texts, and emails.
Live video for a vehicle demo enables a salesperson to guide a consumer through the vehicle features and benefits in real-time, just as if the customer were standing right on the lot. With some platforms, the salesperson can text the customer a Personalized URL and all the customer has to do is click on the link to instantly be engaged in a live one-way or two-way video conference.
Live video calls can also compliment the post-sale delivery process as part of a cautious and contactless sale. The salesperson can simply go over the delivery walkthrough as they always have, but now they can do it through a live video call.
The sales department isn’t the only branch of a dealership that can boost profits with live video. A typical service department experience involves a customer dropping off a vehicle and waiting at the dealership or leaving and awaiting a call for a diagnosis.
Using live video to discuss a vehicle diagnosis is a powerful way for service advisors to explain and demonstrate repairs while keeping the customer engaged during the decision-making process. Having a live video call with a customer after sending service recommendations increases acceptance rates and will quickly become your service advisor’s favorite tool. Live video can eliminate hours of annoying phone tag back and forth by the service department. The customer can also see the recommended service in real-time which reinforces the recommendation and can easily elicit a response of “yes,” rather than “let me think about it,” so that they can go and ask a friend, family member, or price shop the repair with an independent facility.
The F&I department can benefit too. The F&I Manager can advise the customer that they are recording the video call, record the full F&I presentation with all disclosures, and do the entire deal remotely. They can even send the entire recorded presentation to the customer.
Live video calls keep a customer fully engaged with you. Facetime did not gain it is huge popularity on Apple devices because consumers did not like it, but rather the contrary. By using live video at your dealership, you quickly build rapport and earn the customer’s trust. And that is how you increase revenue.
By Tim James
Some dealers miss opportunities to gain acceptance of service recommendations or upsells simply because consumers do not know why they are needed or important. Many advisors share the “canned” description. However, if the customer is not right in front of you it can be hard for them to understand what you are going on about and so they decline the recommendations.
Well, there is an easy solution to better communicate with your customers so they can see why the recommendations are necessary. That solution is video.
Since COVID-19 arrived on the scene video communications have dramatically increased as a way to engage with customers. Think about how norms have changed. A majority of employees are still working at home using video platforms to communicate with colleagues, such as Zoom. And, in those states where the only way to sell a car is remotely, video is a great tool to help build that relationship and sell the car. Video has become a necessary item in any dealership’s arsenal for both sales and service.
When it comes to service recommendations, using either recorded or live video, you can easily show the customer the issue and clearly describe it to them. The customer can then see what the problem is and better understand why it needs to be repaired. Also, they will feel more confident about accepting those repairs and approve the recommendations. Recommended service acceptance rates can increase by as much as three times from an average of 20% to 40% and sometimes even as high as 60%. Recorded or live video recommendations can also help prevent your customers from shopping the competition and ending up at an independent shop.
Use video technology to communicate with customers – whether that be now during the pandemic or afterward once it passes. You will see an uptick in service recommendations as well as increased customer loyalty and improved CSI scores.
Nobody knows how long we, as a nation, will be home-bound. Some people say it will be months, some are saying years.
No matter how long it is, the results of video are timeless and well-proven. Communicating with your customers via video can help you weather this storm and help boost profitability.