I never imagined that social media would make me my dealership’s top salesperson.
I remember my first day on the car lot vividly. My sales manager shuffled me out the front door to stand outside in the cold and wait for customers.
I had applied to sell at this dealership many times over a period of months, walking into the showroom past a crowd of waiting salespeople, and in all of those visits had never seen the swarm of customers my sales manager seemed to expect would be pulling into the parking lot any moment. I figured, he must’ve known something I didn’t.
At first, I stood alongside the other salespeople positioned at the front door. After a while I grew anxious by this unoccupied time. In the following days and weeks standing around listening to the other guys talk about their fantasy football teams and hoping a customer would show up, I had the same thought again and again: this can’t be the most effective use of my time, I was growing impatient, and not selling any cars.
I began to think about what I could do to motivate people to walk through the showroom doors asking to work with me. I considered my options. I had just recently moved across country so I had no real contacts in the area, I didn’t have the funds for a billboard or newspaper ad, and I definitely did not want to resign and return to my previous career. With no budget, I didn’t have many options. It then occurred to me that I could utilize some free tools I had access to, like Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. In an industry where a new study is published seemingly every week illustrating that customers are researching and shopping online more and more, it made sense that to be visible to them I needed to be online. The Internet is where I could capture their attention and entice customers to come see me directly.
So I started to take action utilizing social media. I wasn’t sure initially what would result in visibility online, I didn’t have any previous marketing experience, but I was clear on my goal of getting the attention of potential customers. I understood that in order for people buy a car from me, those people had to know I existed. I focused my activity on becoming visible to shoppers as they did online research for a new vehicle with the hope that this would allow for an introduction I otherwise may never have had.
And then, an incredible thing happened, it worked.
After a few months of building a presence on Facebook and posting videos to YouTube, a woman came in and asked for me, telling me she had seen a video of mine after performing a Google search. She bought a replacement for her totaled Jimmy that evening. Then, a professor came to me clutching a print-out of an SUV comparison I had written and shared on Facebook, telling me “I’m most definitely a 4Runner buyer according to your post and I’d like to purchase one today.” Shortly after that, I received a call from a gentleman from Seattle saying he was inclined to trade in his Land Cruiser for a new one after having stumbled across a video of mine. He made a 12 hour drive to my dealership, brought me some gifts and a cream puff of a trade-in, and drove away back home in his shiny new Land Cruiser.
These encounters became more and more frequent and ultimately catapulted me to becoming the dealership’s top salesperson. I had successfully figured out how to use social media to sell cars.
My visibility grew exponentially, garnering local and national attention, and reaching far beyond prospective car buyers, allowing me to make connections within the greater automotive community. It was this incredible visibility that provided me with an introduction to Alan Ram of Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions, someone who has one of the best reputations in the automotive training space. Alan is an expert in conversion training; how to convert customers from the phone and the internet to the showroom. I began using Alan’s training. His tangible, actionable training immediately resonated with my proactive mindset—providing me the tools to more effectively mine customers within the huge base I had created and handle all of my opportunities better. Shortly after that, Alan made an offered to join his team, I accepted. It made sense to come work with the best, and just as Alan had helped scores of salespeople become successful with his phone and internet conversion training, I wanted to help my colleagues become successful through converting off social media.
I knew with my training social media conversion could work for salespeople and dealerships all across the country. Armed with the right strategy and training, anyone could do what I did. Here are four tips to begin creating a fierce social presence that converts:
1) Recognize that Video is Powerful
When it comes to social selling, video is a dealership’s, or salesperson’s, most powerful weapon. It’s a medium that allows you to transfer enthusiasm, show excitement for your product, and ultimately persuade a prospective client to come see you. A recent study indicates that consumers are increasingly influenced by video; 69% of people who used YouTube while shopping for a vehicle were influenced by YouTube more than TV, newspapers, or magazines. So when it comes to social video, seeing really is believing.
2) Adopt a Proactive Mindset
The days of making a living standing on point waiting for customers are behind us. Success in today’s car business can be measured by your ability to convert customers off the telephone and the internet into the showroom. Consumers are aiming for efficiency as they shop for a vehicle; completing much of their research online and then simply calling dealerships to see if they have the right vehicle in inventory. In fact, online search interest in dealer phone numbers is up over 78% in the past year meaning both phone and internet conversion skills are paramount. The salespeople and dealerships who are proactive, who deliberately learn how to master these skills, are the ones who will succeed.
3) Focus on Connection.
Bob Burg said it best:
“All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
Social media is perhaps the best tool to allow automotive dealerships and salespeople to build connections with prospective and past buyers. Showing behind-the-scenes happenings at the dealership or photos that showcase the personalities of salespeople can be a powerful way for shoppers to begin to trust and build relationships with the dealership and its salespeople. The key to an effective social media presence is creating human connection.
4) Take Action Now.
The automotive industry is not at the cusp of this revolution, it is in the midst of it. Beginning to take action right away on these social strategies is what will make you visible to all of your customers who are already online and on social media.
What's Your Reaction?
Laura Madison is the National Director of Sales for Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions and owner of LauraDrives.com. She is a former car salesperson, “Laura Toyota,” best known for her use of social media and personal branding. Laura has been featured in Automotive News, Advertising Age and Edmunds.com for her unique marketing and self-promotion efforts.