[podcast flashvars=”transparentpagebg: ‘yes’, titles: ‘Online Chat'”]https://growwithcars.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/DAAugustPodcast.mp3[/podcast]

Winning deals from your internet listings often begins with an online chat. While some car buyers will call, email or visit your store to get information, other shoppers prefer a faster, more anonymous route. Why? Online chat allows these customers to confirm the vehicle’s condition and availability without waiting for a response or sharing personal details. They’d rather not provide their contact information until they’re comfortable with both the car and the salesperson.

While adding chat to your site and third-party listings is not difficult, it is imperative that you have an effective sales process to support it. What’s the upside of  a good chat process? Several dealers have told us they made a sale within just a few hours of activating online chat. In fact, one said he closed six deals in the first week.

Here are six tips to help you successfully adopt online chat at your store to drive more sales.

  1. Be available. Whenever your chat system is active, have someone ready to respond. If you’re going to be away from your desk for more than a moment, log out of the system. Otherwise, customers may think you’re ignoring them. 
  2. Staff accordingly. While many salespeople can manage simultaneous chats, some car buyers may grow impatient when they have to wait. Consider assigning another salesperson to chip in during peak hours or putting the receptionist on standby. You can also hire a part-timer or occasionally pitch in yourself. 
  3. Build rapport. Use a conversational tone with shoppers and respond in your own words. Avoid canned phrases that sound robotic or computerized. Uploading a picture of yourself to the chat application also personalizes the conversation. 
  4. Give information, get information. As you answer shoppers’ questions, look for an opening to get the information you want – their name and phone number. Make the request, though, in a way that helps the customer. For instance, “I want to ensure you get the details about this vehicle should the chat session disconnect.” 
  5. Set the appointment. Don’t be shy about inviting customers to your store so they can see and drive the car. The shopper on your lot is closer to a purchase than an anonymous prospect typing on a computer keyboard. 
  6. Measure performance. Just as you track the results of your phone and email inquiries, monitor your online chats. Reviewing session transcripts and measuring conversion rates, identifies areas for improvement and gauges chat’s bottom-line impact.

With online chat, you’re typically working with lower-funnel shoppers who’ve identified specific cars that meet their needs but want help identifying “the one” for them. How well you answer their questions and build rapport – as we’ve outlined here – shapes your odds of setting the appointment and winning the deal.