This is a transcript of MM Podcast Episode 015: Live Chat For Auto Dealers with Engage To Sell’s Terry Gibson.
Ashley: Welcome to episode 15 of the motorcar marketing podcast. In this episode’s main segment, I’m going to be talking with Terry Gibson. Terry works for Engage to Sell which is a live chat application that car dealers can add to their website. If you’re not using live chat on your website, you’re not going to want to miss this discussion. Terry has some great insight into how this app can help dealers generate more leads so stay tuned for that.
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A couple of quick notes. Any website or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on the website in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.motorcarmarketing.com/podcasts. Just look for episode 15.
We recently put together a great free guide for car dealers called A Quick Start Auto Dealer Marketing Guide. You can get it by going to motorcarmarketing.com/guide. It’s completely free. You just put in your email address and the lessons will be emailed to you over the course of the next few days. We’ve tried to concentrate on the high-leverage things you can do with each marketing channel so you can get the maximum results in the shortest amount of time. We’ll be adding more lessons to this guide in the future, but to start out we’ll show you how to increase your ROI and sell more cars on craigslist, how to quickly set up a Google Pay Per Click campaign, how to begin generating leads from local search engine optimization and how to effectively use email marketing to generate leads and correspond with your past customers. Again, this guide is completely free. Just go to motorcarmarketing.com/guide.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m talking with Engage to Sell’s Terry Gibson. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Terry, to the motorcar marketing podcast. I really appreciate your coming on the show.
Terry: You’re welcome, Ashley. Glad to be here.
Ashley: So to start. I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your career and how you got into the automotive niche and ultimately to live chat with Engage to Sell?
Terry: Yes. Sure. Actually out of college, I was looking for some work or whatnot and ended up in the motorcycle field or power sports so I worked for Rick Case which is a big organization on the East Coast selling all four brands, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. After that they ended up selling those stores, and we had a Honda car store and so I was invited to go over there and transfer work for them so that’s how I transferred from the power sports into the automobile industry. Was real successful with that and we opened some dealerships in Fort Lauderdale and they were looking for volunteers to manage those stores. I became the general sales manager at the Honda store in Ohio at that point. So I transferred to Fort Lauderdale and here we are.
Ashley: Perfect. Perfect. So let’s talk about Engage to Sell a bit. Can you give us a quick overview of what your product is and how it can help car dealers?
Terry: Yes. Basically we’re a proactive live chat company. So, if you will, as a customer drives up to the dealership and somebody comes out proactively and greets that customer and says hey, I’m so-and-so, welcome to Joe Smith Motors, we take that same approach and mirror that on line so we’re not a home page strategy. Once a customer goes to a dealer’s website and lands there, we don’t pop up on the home page or anything like that. We wait until they land within a service or product because we’re going to chat with customers, import sales and service so we never forget a profit center. We always want to engage in each one of those customers so based on an algorithm, we’ll then engage those customers with a live agent 24/7 365 days a year. This yields a fantastic result. Conversions are very high and works out really well for the dealer.
Ashley: Perfect. So maybe you could give us just a drill down a little bit on what you said about the algorithm and when you engage with the customer. Maybe give us sort of an example of that flow and how that works because I’m not quite clear. So if someone goes to the home page, then they go to a specific—you know—vehicle page, maybe just give us an example of how your little live chat window would open up and start the agent.
Terry: Yes. So if somebody goes to—let’s say I go to a dealership’s website, and then I’m going to click on the inventory. And once I click on the inventory, I’m going to then do a search and figure out what I’m looking for if they have it, etc. Once I land on a detail page within that inventory, our team based on an algorithm, knows when to engage that customer, when they’re most accessible to the chat. So it would open up once they’re on that page, and this would be in parts, sales, or service in the inventory, etc. It would open up a window and flow from the left to the right, asking that customer, introducing themselves, of course, this is so-and-so. Can I help you find what you’re looking for?
Ashley: So like, again, just to kind of maybe shine a little light on that. So your algorithm is looking at what. It’s tracking their mouse clicks on the page. It’s tracking how long they’ve been on the page so you might let them sort of digest that page for 30 seconds and then your window would pop up?
Terry: Yes. We let them look and land on an area. In other words, once they’ve found that inventory or found that car they’re looking for, then I proactively engage that customer. We don’t wait until they click on a button or something like that. We engage that customer based on an algorithm knowing when to engage them. So our team window will open up, and then we engage with that customer proactively instead of letting them click on the button.
Ashley: Okay. Perfect. I mean, one of the big advantages that I see is that you guys man this thing with your own staff. I know I’ve been on a lot of websites where they have a live chat, but there’s never anybody actually manning the live chat so that seems like a really good thing. But one concern I would have is that the agents wouldn’t be able to answer the questions adequately. Can you talk about sort of the training that you give these agents before they’re allowed to actually interact with the dealer’s customers?
Terry: Yes. First of all, everybody on our team goes through a six-week minimum training on the automotive industry, on the websites where customers look for, we’ve got a complete list of questions that most customers would ask during these periods of time. So they’re very educated in the automobile business and how to answer and how to handle a customer’s questions at that point. Keep in mind we’re actually creating kind of a concierge or a greeter if you will. So we’re gathering everything that the customer’s looking for. We’re doing all the heavy lifting for the dealership, and then once we’ve completed that, within 30 seconds that information’s in the dealer’s hand, we’ve got a mobile app. It can be texted; it can be emailed. So within 30 seconds I’m the sales manager, and I can look down at my phone and I see John Smith just left my site, here’s everything he’s looking for. He’s got a trade; he’s going to finance. Here’s his email, everything I know. So it’s kind of like the game film of how to put a deal together with this customer. So now I’ve picked up the phone or I email, whatever that process was that that customer wanted us to contact them by, and then the customer can obviously set that appointment or the dealership can set that appointment from there.
Ashley: Yes. I wonder if you could tell us what are some of the common questions that people have via this live chat mechanism?
Terry: Well, once somebody engages with us, a lot of customers they’ll want to know questions about is it available, different things about the cars, etc. Most customers really want to remain autonomous so we’ll use their first name and get that information until we go through the chat and we’ve established a little rapport with that customer. And then we’ll answer a lot of the questions and usually about that time they feel comfortable with us. We really set the stage for the appointment for the customer to come into the dealership. So it really sets that stage for that visit and with CSI for the dealership so the customer satisfaction, what to expect when they visit the dealership and that really works out well.
Ashley: Yeah. Yeah. So it seems like it’s just like what you just mentioned, one of the most common questions is going to be is that car still available? And I wonder that always seems somewhat tricky. I mean, a lot of the dealerships I work with are not that great about maybe updating their website right when the car is sold. So how do you handle some of those sorts of intricacies of a man on the ground would really need to physical verify that the car is available.
Terry: And that’s part of the script and what we do. We actually say that we’re going to have management verify that the car is still available and how would like us to get back with you? Would it be an email, would it be a phone; would it be a text. That’s information is laid out, and usually the customer will answer at that point and then we’ll go on through the final process, in other words, building that game film if you will. Like I said, again for the dealership, are you financing? By the way, do you have a trade? How soon do you want to be in the market, things like that that the customer’s looking for or the dealership is looking for really to help put a deal together.
Ashley: So let’s talk about some of the actual statistics of what this service is doing. What sort of percentage of people that use the live chat ultimately will turn into a phone lead or coming to a test drive?
Terry: Well, what we see is all of the chats that we convert—let’s talk about a normal website. A normal website’s around two to four percent conversion I would say in most cases. Our conversion rates are around six to eight percent the way we engage a customer, and out of those people, eighty-five percent of the customers are contactable so it really is a high percentage of people that set the appointment that come into the dealership, I mean, they’ve taken the time to spend a lot of time on the sites. Our chat conversations last five to ten minutes in some cases so they spend a lot of time on that site so when the dealer gets that information, if they’re trained and our process mirrors their process, in other words, set that appointment, get the customer and go from there. Being that 85 percent of our leads are contactable, it really yields out a great ROI for the dealership with a great success rate.
Ashley: So the six to eight percent, you’re talking about website visitors, you’re able to convert as opposed to like the normal two to four percent. You’re able to actually convert six to eight so if they get a hundred visitors, hopefully six to eight percent of those will become contactable.
Terry: Yes. Correct. Yep.
Ashley: Perfect. Just one thing that occurred to me as I was sort of looking at your website, and I’d be curious if you had any stats. One line of concern that I might have is you’re clearly increasing overall engagement, but one thing I might be concerned about is that there’s a certain number of people that might actually call you like if there is no website form and there’s no live chat and they have questions about the car, they might pick up the phone and call and so you might get a better—you know—you might have more people calling you because their questions are not being answered on the front end. There might be a lot of people who just get their questions answered and then don’t turn into a lead. Do you have any stats on that like engagement’s clearly are going to go up but maybe call volume goes down or even total sales might go down.
Terry: But what we see actually is an up in what we call leads. In other words, if a dealer gets—we just had a Ford store yesterday and the guy gets 60 daily leads a month from his own website, so what we see is we normally will double that. So now the guy’s going to get 120 leads from his own website. You and I both know a lead from their own website is the best lead they can possibly get as opposed to third-party, etc. So based on that, it really works out well the way we engage the customer and that’s all about the engagement. There are three things on a dealer’s website. One is the phone, and as you say some people will call but after hours it’s invalid. (2) Forms. A lot of customers can click on contact us forms etc. but it doesn’t really do anything to get the customer to engage or really be personable or really show up for that appointment. So live person chat or live chat in this case being proactive is a great form and it’s a must on a dealership website today that if they don’t have, they’re clearly missing opportunities.
Ashley: Yes, sure. So do you guys get out some sort of a trial, a test run for people so they can just see what kind of great results they’re going to get from this?
Terry: We don’t have a trial period. We do have some things that will work out for a dealer. We are a month—to-month service. We have a 98 percent retention rate plus for our current contracts so anybody that signs up with us, you know, like I said, 98 percent of them retained, we just tell somebody if I don’t do the job fire me.
Ashley: Well, I think that’s some great information. I know I’ve learned a lot about your product. It does sound like a great product. It sounds really like a no-brainer. I mean, if it doesn’t work, you can certainly turn it off, but I can definitely see how engagement would go through the roof with something like this. So what’s the best way for people to contact you and get in touch with you if they want to learn more about it?
Ashley: Perfect. And I will link to all this in the show notes so if someone’s in their car listening to this podcast episode, they can just go to the show notes and I’ll have a direct link to your email address and I’ll list the phone number there as well. Terry, this has been great. As I said, this is some great information. I definitely think a lot of dealers can use this.
Terry: Okay. Great. I’ll look forward to the pleasure of being on your show and great talking with you.
Ashley: Great. Thank you very much.
Ashley: Just a quick plug for our craigslist posting service, if you’re having any problems getting your cars on craigslist, please give us a call. We can help. We can get all your ads up quickly and cheaply using our professional templates too so your ads will look great and stand out. What I’ve found with a lot of dealers is that if they rely on someone in-house to post their ads, the posting can slip between the cracks and that some days errors are made. Sometimes cars are posted twice while other days cars aren’t posted at all. This doesn’t happen with our system. We’ll keep your ads up and running and alive one hundred percent of the time. Give us a call or check out our website to learn more. (818) 754-5745 or go to motorcarmarketing.com.
Just a quick thought on today’s interview with Terry, if you listen to the podcast regularly, you’ll know that one of the things that I think is absolutely key to successful marketing is being willing to get out there and try new things. So if you’re not already using some form of live chat on your website, you definitely owe it to yourself to check this out and give it a try. The sorts of numbers he’s quoting, doubling your lead volume seem pretty reasonable to me, and if you think about this in relation to your other marketing efforts, that’s a huge increase in ROI. Let’s say you’re using Google Pay Per Click, imagine if you could double your lead volume without doubling your pay per click spent, all of a sudden you’re seeing a 100 percent increase in ROI from Pay per Click, but really, no matter how you’re driving traffic to your website, even a small increase in lead volume can turn an unprofitable campaign into a profitable one.
So anyway, that’s our show. I hope you get some value out of it and it can help you grow your business. Thanks for listening.