When you ask the world’s sales leadership and management gurus what the single most-powerful way to attract leads is, they all reply “word-of-mouth referrals”. Word of mouth is the single most credible form of marketing because your customer doesn’t stand to gain personally by recommending you. They put their reputation on the line to refer you to friends and family and that’s worth a hundred times more than any ad you can buy. For whatever reason, dealership operations has veered away from capitalizing on word of mouth. Now that the internet has empowered consumers like never before, it’s vital to take action and set a proactive course to let those 5-star customers tell the real story.
Online reviews are a reflection of how well you promote word of mouth in your business. Your ratings give real-time information to potential customers. What would happen if you actively encouraged a process to capitalize on word of mouth to secure your online ratings?
Those dealers that have been in the Social space for a while know that Social Media is word of mouth digitized. Online ratings sites are part of Social business because they consist of user-generated content and they connect like-minded people to form communities. Someone looking to purchase or get service on their vehicle can meet others online who’ve done business with you and learn what to expect if they come to your store. It’s time to develop and support word of mouth marketing vigorously and there’s one important step that will get you to the promised land. Train your staff to utter this simple phrase:
“Our business is based on referrals. Would you consider going online to tell others about your experience with us?”
Make direct eye-contact and when they say yes, be prepared to show them how. You can use a tool at the store like an iPad or give them a memorable card that gives details, including a link to your profiles. Educate, train and support your front-line personnel. It’s a delicate conversation that many sales people have just not yet mastered and it gets way easier with practice. Your sales people are face-to-face with your customer everyday and they’re the last person your customer has contact with before they leave your store. It’s your best chance to nail down the online review and create a repeat buyer.
Never before has word of mouth been so accessible. We no longer need to wait to talk in person, we don’t need to pick up the phone or even send out an email campaign. Social Media keeps us in touch with our customer and their network in real-time. There are sales people I’ve met who’ve never lost sight of this valuable asset and they use Social Media to tap into their customer base again and again. They stay “top of mind” so that when their customer or their customer’s network is shopping for a car, they’ll be the go-to person. Those sales people provide answers to questions about the process of the purchase, they’re interested, supportive and helpful. That strategy is the key to word of mouth referrals.
When your customer knows you care about them and you’ve demonstrated that you appreciate their business, they will refer you. However, even the most loyal happy customer will not be motivated to go online to write a review unless you ask them. When you say, “Our business is based on referrals…” those words make you memorable. Your staff must ask for those referrals because we all have to be prompted to take action, it’s human nature. A cleverly-timed reminder that your business is based on referrals is the single most-important step to capture online reviews. It’s the most effective way to build your online reputation…one customer at a time.