Can a Computer Replace You?

Each week our company e-mystery shops dealerships all over the country and we find right and wrong ways to assist customers who submit online inquiries. A recent shopping project I completed for a 20 Group was telling in how some Internet sales specialists put very little effort into responding to a prospect. The 20 Group represented the same auto maker and was using its recommended lead-management

Each week our company e-mystery shops dealerships all over the country and we find right and wrong ways to assist customers who submit online inquiries.

A recent shopping project I completed for a 20 Group was telling in how some Internet sales specialists put very little effort into responding to a prospect.

The 20 Group represented the same auto maker and was using its recommended lead-management tool, which happened to come standard with the same email templates.

The dealers in the group saw how many of them said the exact same thing in their template emails, and not just the first ones. No wonder customers don't respond to emails as well as we'd like.

Why would we even want to have someone put words in our mouth or type words in our emails? Most of you probably consider yourself capable of speaking for yourself. So why would you demote yourself to using someone else's words?

The only reason I can imagine is that you may feel like the prospect is not genuinely interested and was just casually checking information online and it's easy just to shoot them a template email so you complete your task.

But study after study has proven that online shoppers are seriously considering the purchase of a vehicle and will eventually purchase once they find a dealership and a deal that meets their needs.

We always enjoy it during our training when we can cause a spark in the sales team members that motivates them to trust their own abilities. I can assure you that you can write your own scripts and templates that work just as well or better than anyone else.

Because of this, when we provide templates and scripts to our clients, we call them “thought starters” and ask the students in our training to use them as guides.

I've seen extraordinary templates and scripts written by sales people that felt they had no creativity yet, when challenged, stood up and excelled.

Why does personalization matter? Every lead is unique even though they can look alike.

On the other side of the computer from you is an individual, a family or a business that would very much like your help. They have unique needs and considerations.

If the best you can muster is a canned response that was part of your customer-relationship management or lead management tool then you could be replaced by a computer.

It's not all bad that there are software programs that can do the same job a lazy salesperson can do. In fact, for the dealership that is paying that salesperson, there are significant savings when software can assist customers online, even if the salesperson doesn't value the lead.

Don't think it can happen? Please consider the human-staffed help desks that used to exist and now have been replaced by logical software programs online, on the phone and at kiosks that provide better assistance than an uncaring human and never call in sick.

How about the electronic phone attendants at huge companies like Apple or Delta that “talk you through the prompts” to provide assistance? We used to call travel agents when we went on trips, but now we trust Kayak, Expedia, Priceline and others to give us the information we consider vital to our planning.

I'd much prefer capable and caring human assistance but when it's not available I'll accept a good software program. I bet you would too.

How close are you to being replaced by software? It could happen tomorrow. There are great software programs in play right now that will respond to all your online requests and even provide pricing with optional vehicles for your prospects to consider.

Even on your website, you can have a computer-generated voice present your vehicles in a video format and talk to your online shoppers about the attributes of a vehicle. There also are software-generated “attendants” that clearly explain the benefits of submitting a credit application. Is this what you want?

Even on your worst day, you can beat a software program if you give it your very best effort.

Human instincts are such that we want interaction especially if it is provided in a kind and caring fashion.

When you say you want to help an Internet prospect, are you serious or just going through the paces? The golden rule still applies in business and the more you focus on truly helping someone the way you would want to be helped, the better your results will be.

Buying a vehicle is a huge decision that requires a lot of thought and planning so it stands to reason that your prospects will sometimes submit a request and not purchase right away.

They might even say your price is too high and want to be convinced otherwise. I bet you do the same thing from time to time. Do yourself a favor and review your scripts and your templates and inject your own personality into them so that your prospects can sense you really want to help them buy a car.

A winning template evolves from a good email that worked over and over, and that you got tired of typing each time. Consider starting from scratch with your next lead and work it with your best effort using your own scripts and templates.

You'll find you have more talent than a software program and can truly inspire customers to buy from you.

David Kain is president of KainAutomotive.com, a firm offering automotive Internet sales and marketing training and services. He is at [email protected] and 859-533-2626.

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