Automotive Text First Strategy

From Call-First to Text-First Strategy: How Your Strategy Affects Dealership

Text-First Strategy vs Call-First Strategy

In an industry steeped in tradition, automotive dealerships have long adhered to the call-first strategy, a methodology championed by outdated sales training programs. This aggressive approach, aimed at immediately connecting with potential customers through phone calls, has been a staple in the sales process for years.

However, the landscape of communication has evolved. Recent statistics paint a stark contrast between customer responsiveness to phone calls and text messages: the average answer rate for a phone call hovers around a mere 6%, while text messages boast an impressive 98% read rate. This shift in communication preferences highlights a growing misalignment between the traditional call-first strategy and modern consumer behavior who prefer a text-first strategy.

Text-First Strategy

This disconnect is increasingly pushing customers away from traditional car dealerships, fueling the rise of online retailers like Amazon and Carvana. Shoppers seek a discreet, hassle-free way to buy a vehicle, fearing that engaging with conventional dealers will unleash a barrage of sales calls. This preference for a more relaxed purchasing process is reshaping the automotive retail landscape.

The Misalignment with Modern Consumer Behavior

Happy Customer Text First Strategy

The fundamental flaw of the call-first strategy lies in its glaring disconnect with how modern consumers prefer to communicate. Today’s customers value their privacy and autonomy more than ever before, particularly when they are in the early stages of the car buying process. When they submit a lead online, they are expressing interest, yes, but not necessarily inviting an immediate phone call.

The assumption that a phone call is the best next step is becoming an increasingly outdated notion that fails to respect the customer’s preferred communication channels. Startling statistics reveal a clear reality: only 1-2 out of every 10 online lead submissions result in answered phone calls, starkly indicating a widespread reluctance towards wanting to talk on the phone.

The Negative Impact on Customer Perception

When a dealership insists on a phone call as the first point of contact, it risks alienating the very people it seeks to convert into buyers. This approach can come across as intrusive and pushy, traits that no business wants to be associated with. The result? Potential customers who feel bombarded by calls are more likely to view the dealership negatively, associating it with high-pressure sales tactics rather than a customer-centric buying experience.

Upset Customer Call First Strategy

Moreover, this pressure-laden approach often backfires when trying to gather essential information for the sales process. Customers are significantly more open to sharing details such as credit applications, trade information, and vehicle preferences via text messages, where they feel less pressured and more in control of the conversation. This negative first impression, reinforced by an invasive communication strategy, can be challenging to overcome and may drive potential buyers to seek a more understanding and respectful dealership.

The Erosion of Trust and Engagement

Trust is the cornerstone of any successful customer relationship, particularly in the automotive industry, where purchases are significant and often emotional decisions. The call-first strategy can inadvertently erode this trust by signaling to customers that the dealership’s priorities are misaligned with their own. Instead of fostering an environment of trust and open communication, the dealership appears more interested in making a quick sale than in understanding and meeting the customer’s needs. Engage them via text message and watch them open up like a flower. Below is an example of the first text message some of our clients are using. They use reverse psychology on the customer since they know the customer doesn’t want to talk and all the other dealerships will start blowing up their phone with calls.

Automotive Text Message First Strategy

The Missed Opportunity of Text Messaging

By clinging to the call-first approach, dealerships overlook the powerful potential of text messaging as a more effective and customer-friendly engagement tool. Text messaging aligns with the modern consumer’s preference for quick, convenient, and less intrusive communication. It offers a platform for building rapport and trust through respectful, customer-led interactions.

Furthermore, text messaging not only boasts high engagement rates but also opens the door for more detailed exchanges, such as discussing credit applications, trade-in details, and vehicle preferences, in a pressure-free environment. This reliable channel significantly enhances lead nurturing and effectively progresses potential buyers through the sales funnel, representing a critical missed opportunity when underutilized.

Embracing a New Approach

The call-first strategy, with its roots in a bygone era of sales training, is no longer serving dealerships in a digital age marked by evolving consumer preferences. The way forward is to embrace a more flexible, customer-centric approach that respects the preferred communication methods of today’s consumers. By adopting a text-first strategy, dealerships can improve customer engagement, build trust, and ultimately, create a more positive and effective sales process that aligns with the expectations of the modern automotive buyer.

It’s time for dealerships to critically assess the effectiveness of the call-first strategy and consider the benefits of a more modern, customer-oriented approach. The shift towards text messaging isn’t just about keeping up with technology; it’s about respecting and responding to the changing needs and preferences of your customers. In doing so, dealerships can not only avoid the pitfalls of the call-first strategy but also set themselves apart as forward-thinking dealerships attuned to the demands of the digital age.

Want a free Mystery Shop?

The car business is complex with leads coming from many places, customers submitting forms here and there. Sometimes we don’t even know what happens when someone submits a lead to us. Unlock a complimentary assessment of your dealership’s lead follow-up strategy with our Mystery Shop service! Simply hit the “Text Us” button and send us the message “Mystery Shop”. We’ll discreetly submit a lead on your website and share our insights with you. Dive in and discover how to refine your approach for better results!

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Jason Girdner
Jason Girdner

Jason Girdner is a visionary entrepreneur and the driving force behind TECOBI, a pioneering automotive advertising technology company renowned for its innovative approach to dealership marketing and sales. With a rich background in automotive sales and a deep passion for technology, Jason co-founded TECOBI to address the evolving communication preferences in the automotive industry, particularly the shift towards text messaging as a primary communication channel.

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