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.