During the holidays I conducted an experiment with about 200 dealerships on Twitter. I followed those who were based in an area close enough to me where I could’ve bought a car, serviced a car and/or recommended them to my network. Over the past 3 weeks, I took a survey to see how many followed me back. The result was a dismal 9%. About 1/3 of the accounts had less than 50 followers so it seemed clear to me that they weren’t effectively managing their Twitter profile.
This reminds me of a situation I had years ago where our sales personnel were exposed to a fantastic opportunity. We had negotiated an agreement with the largest film and television management agency in the US to provide their clients (celebrities, agents, film moguls, support staff) with a discounted price on the purchase and service of their car. We were a group of high-line import stores and this meant a huge savings for the agency and a sensational opportunity for us to build a solid on-going sales relationship with respected members of the community.
As our program rolled out, it required focused participation and follow up on the part of our sales staff. Being a new opportunity, it was first met with resistance. However, we provided the sales personnel with training and coaching on how to approach these new customers and most of our staff eventually seized the opportunity. Those who didn’t, didn’t make it.
It’s the same today for dealerships using Social Media tools like Twitter. Reaching out to form sales relationships isn’t new but how we do it is. Twitter has made it easier for us but we must participate in the medium to see any results. Initiating the conversation with your customers is the key. Just like the agreement we had with the talent agency, your followers on Twitter can reap the benefits of an online sales relationship. Obtaining followers on Twitter requires creative strategy. Some of your customers may already be following you and you don’t even know it. Do you have personnel in place to monitor this?
The results of my survey proves there is much room for improvement. Like me, your customers see that you’ve got a Twitter profile and they might follow you. But Twitter is an engagement, a two-way conversation. If you never respond by thanking them for the follow or by following them back, how does that affect your online reputation?
In the past we’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring our dealership’s message to the buyer. By simply taking the steps needed, your message can now broadcast to your most loyal customers and potential buyers through Twitter at a fraction of the cost. Twitter is now the vehicle to build those solid on-going sales relationships with respected members of the community. The opportunity’s out there, can you hear it?
Do you know a dealership doing a great job with their Twitter presence? Please post a comment and give a girl some hope.