Stay in Touch

Jeff Williams

Changing your communication strategy during the pandemic prepares the ground for social easing

TALKING with dozens of dealers all around the world over the past several weeks, it is clear that they decided that a pandemic was not a reason to stop talking (aka marketing) to their customers.

Some kept talking to their customers out of a survival instinct. Some out of concern for their customers. Others simply because they didn’t know what to do, and doing nothing wasn’t
an option for them.

Yes, many of these dealers sold cars, in some cases quite a few. Many others didn’t sell very many cars, but that wasn’t their goal. They simply wanted to compound the goodwill with their customer.

Here are a few things that I learned from these dealers who chose to keep talking to their customers.

They began most of their messaging and communication to their customers by reaching out with an offer to help.

They would say something like “I wanted to reach out and see if you needed any help? Many of our customers need help during this crisis … help with booking service, help deferring a payment, help to lower their payment, help to get an affordable vehicle so a family member does not have to take public transportation…etc”

Some dealers even started their communication with a negative and then transitioned to a helping message “I am calling to make sure that you don’t come down to our dealership…at least not without an appointment”.

Now here is the really interesting observation. Some of the dealers were actually bold enough to ask their customers for help. They would start with the “do you need help message?” and then transition to a “maybe you can help us message”.

It sounded something like…”you see, we too have been affected by the pandemic. We have laid off 48 staff, but we still have a full inventory and all the pressure that comes with that. So if you happen to have the means and desire to exchange your vehicle, would you allow me to share with you some of the things we are doing to care for our customers who engage with our sales team?”

That actually sounds pretty authentic and even a bit vulnerable, doesn’t it? In many ways it’s contrary to our traditional approach.

Both of these “help” approaches sound different from the usual “stack em deep and sell em cheap” or the “we have a special allocation of inventory” or the “one day only special” don’t they?

I think one of the things that is at the core of these dealers communications, is that both the “how can I help you?” and the “maybe you can help us” message both spark conversations; they spark a caring conversation and an intelligent conversation. They spark dialogue, authentic dialogue.

Years ago, the author of the One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard taught us all is that in the service industry “uncaring is the unforgivable sin”. Retail marketing gurus have been telling us for years that we need to find ways to dialogue with our customers. And the younger generations have taught us the value of being authentic.

Wow. Caring, intelligent dialogue, and authenticity – they sound like a few great lessons for us as we build our post pandemic communication strategies.

To learn about some of the “helpful communications” strategies that we have provided to dealers, click on this link to watch our 1 minute hand drawn video story or click on the image above.

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Jeff Williams
Author

ABOUT

Jeff Williams is the CEO of Absolute Results and has dedicated the last 20+ years to helping dealerships, OEM’s, and sales people across the globe rethink how they sell cars. His three greatest passions are his family, his business, and his charity work.