Automotive social selling is finally showing up on retailers’ radar. It’s been a long road to this moment in time.
In the beginning, the assumption was that social media was a fad. When that notion didn’t materialize, the next stance was denying employees’ access to social media. Now that certain market conditions are forcing retailers to adopt digital retail tools and strategies, automotive social selling is becoming more mainstream.
I recently spoke with a training director at a large auto group. They survey their sales team every year on what they want to be trained on. This year, the overwhelming response was social media.
What is Automotive Social Selling?
Social Selling is the act of developing referrals, leads and sales using social media (and other digital channels). It allows salespeople to laser-target their prospecting and establish rapport through existing connections.
Digital retailing is changing the way dealerships have operated for the last 50 years. Car salespeople have realized social media can be a very helpful tool for keeping their pipeline full.
But social media can be a minefield for car salespeople. With varying degrees of experience in the workforce, it’s difficult to know how best to approach social selling, for both the salesperson and the person(s) who manages them. It’s sort of the “wild, wild west” out there and there aren’t many places to go to learn the ropes.
This new digital sales environment highlights the importance of training.
I don’t recommend letting salespeople loose in the wild so automotive social selling training is crucial. It’s also important to provide guardrails in the form of a Policy for Employee Use of Social Media.
Training for all sales professionals, including management, can mean the difference between a mediocre group and a winning team.
Implementing effective, up-to-date digital training like automotive social selling keeps your team’s production at high levels.
Digital retailing is here to stay and training is a key component in staff adoption and adaptation to the traditional dealership operational model. Retailers can often spend their budgets on training that doesn’t stick, is outdated, or doesn’t change their bottom line.
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I’ve been around the car biz for awhile (I managed dealerships and literally thousands of salespeople) and if there’s one thing I know about car salespeople, it’s that they are creative and like to take action on their ideas. Retailers have the opportunity to tap into that resource, while making sure team members are doing things right.
I’ve met a few car salespeople who have jumped into social media because they recognized its power early on, and some have made it work really well. But there are many others who aren’t as successful and some who might even show the desire to use social media to sell more cars but don’t precisely know how.
For those that are worried about what could happen without any training, let me tell you about one big mistake you can easily avoid.
What’s the biggest mistake car salespeople make in automotive social selling?
The answer is: they forget to build rapport.
Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life. -Mary Kay Ash
Sales is about harnessing the power of human-to-human interactions, online or offline. People are more likely to buy from people they know, like and trust. But liking and trusting someone is harder if you don’t build a connection. Too many salespeople are sabotaging their opportunities for success from the very start, because they’re not practicing this key approach to social media.
The absolute best way to build rapport is to provide value.
What does value look like for a car salesperson on social media?
Helpful, distinctive, or entertaining content.
With every post and interaction you grow your reputation and establish a solid foundation with your connections. High credibility is achieved by:
- Sharing relevant articles about the auto industry, about your dealership.
- Adding thoughtful insights to conversations.
- Solving problems your prospects may have.
- Alleviating fears with tips to avoid car buying pitfalls.
Earn trust by sharing success stories:
- Images of deliveries, especially of repeat customers.
- Endearing customer stories.
- Awards you’ve received.
- 5-star reviews.
- Milestones in your life or lives of others.
- Community projects or causes where you’re making an impact.
Build digital rapport through social media.
The importance of building rapport is that it establishes trust between you and your connections. Your actions create an environment where the customer knows you’re listening.
When you build rapport and foster trust, your actions create safety and loyalty because the prospect feels heard.
Providing value in every interaction deepens the level of communication. Your connections will be more revealing and actually let you know what they really want, allowing you to answer questions and move the sale forward.
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