I got a call this morning from a salesman who works at a dealership where they not only block Social networking sites but all email and texting too! It was an early morning call so part of me thought I was dreaming. After I shook my head and blinked a little, I realized this dealer was subjecting his business to the equivalent of an online reputation nightmare.
This salesperson was reaching out to me for my opinion and to find out if there was anything he could do about it. Unfortunately, the boss’ rules rule. But this left me thinking, “Why would a business owner deliberately cut themselves off from their customers?”
I had a friend once who’s dream was to get married. It was all she talked about. Unfortunately, she never went on a date….ever. She kept waiting for Mr. Right to come along and sweep her up on his white horse and ride off into the sunset. Expecting to sell cars today without letting your staff “date” consumers is just as much of a fairy-tale. People want to know who they’re buying from. They’re no longer just buying what you sell…they’re buying who you are.
Social Media is a communication tool, just like the phone. In the new Social economy, you communicate with your customer where THEY are. They’ve given you permission to market to them by liking your Facebook page, following you on Twitter, reading your blog or watching your YouTube channel. These are the platforms consumers use today to communicate with brands. You’ll never sell them a car if you don’t let your sales people use these tools to communicate.
Today’s dealers aren’t so convinced about Social Media’s importance. It may be because they don’t use it much themselves. Many I talk to simply don’t believe it generates leads. I understand this because having managed stores my whole life, there’s never been anything like this form of marketing. It’s more labor-intensive and it forces dealers to think about their “brand”, what they stand for, not just the vehicles they’re selling. Social media does generate leads and inaction in this Social environment will cost you.
All of us in auto retail know that change is in the air. It’s just a matter of how you approach it: as an adventure or as a jail sentence. Automotive Social Media, including online ratings, can’t be successful without grassroots participation from your staff. Leveraging your staff is the fastest, most-efficient way to ignite your Social marketing.
If you’re blocking your staff from Social sites, you’ve silenced them. You’ve seriously impaired their chances to sell and cut-short your chances to win in this new Social economy. Blocking Social Media means blocking potential sales. Start now by seeking the information you need and shed light on the apprehension you have. When your competition starts kicking your a$$ and it hits your bottom line, you don’t want to be scrambling saying, “Why aren’t we on Social Media?”