Online influence is the edict for 2012. Everything we do online communicates who we are. Social networking, blogging, and sharing opinions on review sites all track back to us, whether to our stores or to our personal brand. Marketers are looking for influencers and with big budgets behind them, the metrics are pretty sophisticated. What it means for dealerships and their staff is you must participate to become top-of-mind when a purchase is being considered.
This week I had the pleasure of doing Social Media training for a popular Porsche Audi VW Volvo group here in So Cal. Their company credo is to always strive for excellence and they do a fantastic job engaging both their real-life and online community. I spoke with the owner who told me he saw the value of Social Media 4+ years ago and now they are at the forefront of the Social wave. How have they transitioned so well?
Open and connected management. The sales and service staff are encouraged to communicate with their customers through Social Media, just as you would use the phone or email. They know that Social networks are how people are interacting today and they want their staff to be there participating. They have an internal process to ask for “referrals” (online reviews) and their numbers show how great it’s working.
While I was there, I met some amazing sales people. One in particular made an impression on me. She’s a gal and I saw myself in her. I was the lone female on many sales floors (and upper management offices too!) so I carry a spot in my heart for all gals in the car business. What stood out for me was her relative short time (1 year) of being in the business and she’s already figured out how customers prefer to buy cars.
She’s set up a Facebook page for herself and is connecting with potential buyers where they are. She consumes all the information she can get about personal branding and Social Media and works her program everyday to sell cars. I asked her what drives her to persevere with Social networking, considering all the obstacles that come with working on a sales floor. “It’s simple.” she says,
“I just can’t make a living anymore waiting for people to walk in the door.”
She’s decided to go out and find where customers are, converse with them and turn them into leads. She’s providing relevant content and engaging with potential customers to show she’s interested and helpful. A couple of the other sales people are working their own Facebook presence too and they said when she got there, they stepped up their game. Each is building their personal brand and their online influence. This is the quintessential sales floor and as we come into 2012, I hope to see more stores develop this culture.
What steps are you taking right now to solidify your online influence? Each dealership (and each staff member) must look at their metrics and do what they can to improve them. Your customer has access to real-time stats. They talk about you and they listen to what others are saying about you. Great sales people agree that referrals by word of mouth are the #1 way to do business. Social Media has digitized word of mouth and supporting your staff to nurture it makes everybody win. When front-line personnel know they have support from the owner and management for Social Media, leads come and sales happen.