Why and how to implement the messaging-first dealer concept

Eric Schlesinger of ActivEngage joins Kain & Co. to discuss the evolution of dealership technology and how it affects the car buying process.

On the latest episode of Kain and Co., host David Kain, president of Kain Automotive, discusses the messaging-first dealer concept, a strategy Kain developed through a partnership with Podium.

Kain says to imagine a guest going to your dealership website, selecting a vehicle, and then inquiring further about the vehicle, like price or financing. Kain says today’s customers expect immediate assistance. The strategy over the last 20 years has been to first have the customer fill out a form and then have the salesperson engage with that customer as quickly as possible. With slacks in the system, there can often be delays in receiving forms. If the customer submits a form on the internet and 10 minutes go by, that feels like a long time to wait for an answer. In fact, there are many dealers who often take 30 minutes to respond or even an hour. This is not providing the best experience for the customer.

The messaging-first dealer concept is similar to live chat. However, when live chat sessions end, the browser completely closes and engagement ceases. Messaging-first keeps the conversation going. It allows consumers to walk through the car buying process virtually with a salesperson from start to finish, as long as the consumer is comfortable with the concept. The consumer can have a relaxing dialogue with the salesperson instead of feeling rush.

Kain explains that he doesn’t dislike live chat. It has its value. Chat platforms nowadays even have SMS capabilities to stay in touch with the consumer. The problem becomes when car dealerships don’t have a strategy in place to execute SMS capability. Guests are shopping online and they want to talk to someone. While that immediate engagement would appear bizarre in person. It has become completely acceptable online.

This also speaks to the level of professionalism your salespeople have. Kain adds that salespeople might be intimidated by immediate engagement. Maybe they are not strong typers or are not quick on their feet. If you are working with a sales team that is in tune with what consumers are looking for, then they can lead conversations online.

This allows salespeople to work with consumers at the peak of their buying interest. Kain is confident in the efficacy of this method and he hopes that more car dealers will continue to move toward it.

Did you enjoy this podcast episode of Kain & Co.? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic by submitting a letter to the editor here, or connect with us at newsroom@cbtnews.com.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.