In Social Media or Dealer Chat—Engage the Customer

Like most businesses, automobile dealerships have warmed to the concept of social media. Your dealership likely has a Facebook page, probably has a Twitter account, and some have already established a presence on Google+. While establishing these accounts is a great start, these actions do little good if you don’t actively engage with the consumer in a fashion which both builds rapport and trust.


A common mistake on both social media interaction and with dealer live chat is to try to sell a vehicle in the initial conversation. That may sound counter-intuitive—after all, you’re in the business to sell cars, right? But just like when a customer visits your location, there is a time and a place to close the deal. Admittedly, every situation is unique, but as a general rule, you need to build that rapport and take some time to understand the customer’s needs. Once that’s accomplished, you likely can move to a test drive, and the potential for a sale increases from there.


Yet we have seen more than a few eager dealers post or tweet statements like “We have over 40 new Nissans in stock—call me now!”, and then they wonder why they receive no response. There are a number of reasons why this tactic doesn’t work, but the main one is that they are posting a statement. While it may be a fact that the dealer has 40 Nissans in stock, making a statement doesn’t invite a response. The savvy dealer instead uses the information in a more engaging way, posting a question like, “Would your commute be better in a new Nissan? We have 40 in stock—what color would you like?”


Granted, not everyone is going to respond to that, but by asking a question you may get a response like “I wish I could afford a blue one.” Now you have an opening to speak to special deals or financing offers, or it could open a conversation about your pre-owned inventories. The key, of course is to get the conversation started.


Similarly in dealer chat scenarios, if a customer starts a chat conversation, it is wise to begin with some simple questions. Responding to the customer with something like “Hi, my name is Bill, what’s your name?” is a great way to begin. In the Robert Cialdini book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, a key takeaway is that if you give somebody something, they are predisposed to give something back. If you give someone your name, as an example, you’re very likely to get a name back.


For more ideas and best practices, we encourage you to visit, a chat educational site jointly developed by Dealer Marketing Magazine and Contact At Once!


Bill Sengstacken is director of marketing at dealer chat provider, Contact At Once! For more information, email






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