Texting Prospects in Auto Sales
One of the biggest challenges faced by salespeople is getting on the radar of a prospect. The biggest challenge is likely staying on their radar. Fortunately, in an age where the average American checks their phones 90 or more times per day, text messaging sales prospects can significantly help you overcome those challenges. But text messaging also comes with significant downside if you are not thoughtful and responsible about it. This playbook is designed to help you come out on the right side of that equation.
- The Good & Bad of Text Message Selling
- Best Practices
- How Can We Help?
The Good & Bad of Text Message Selling
Responsible & Effective Use
Text messaging has among the highest potential for customer engagement. Most Americans check their phone every 10 minutes. Text messages have a nearly 100% open rate (in sharp contrast to a 15-25% open rate for emails), and usually they are opened within 3 to 5 minutes of delivery (compared to a few days for emails).
Drive Up Close Rates
This potential for high engagement can be a boon to close rates. A study from Velocify found that close rates can increase by more than 100% if you text message a prospect after initial contact is made via the phone.
The Importance of Responsible Use
Texting is the most private and intimate form of communication. Texts go directly to your phone and you're likely to see the delivery and the message in a matter of seconds or minutes whether you want to or not. The ability to avoid the constraints of emails (which need to be logged into), phone calls (which need to be answered), voicemails (which need to be checked) and chat (which are prospect initiated) is what makes people protect their text inbox and is why you need to be so thoughtful.
This desire for privacy likely explains the other observation of the Velocify study, which found that close rates actually decreases if you text a prospect prior to making contact on the phone.
Do not send texts to prospects with whom you have not already interacted. Not only is this irresponsible but it's not productive.
This playbook assumes, and you should make 100% certain, that you are in compliance with the laws and regulations governing texting your leads, prospects, and customers. We recommend working with a compliance consultant to ensure everything and everyone is compliant. According to consultants we've spoken with, the risk and magnitude of fines is considerable.1
Challenges & Drawbacks
We spent time outlining the engagement potential for texting. However, there are some drawbacks:
- Unlike on the phone or in person, the prospect can just ignore you.
- You cannot read the tone of voice of the prospect or see the prospect's body language, which reduces your ability to identify and overcome objections.
- If they do not respond to your text within 2 or 3 hours, they are unlikely to engage later. Unlike email, they cannot mark your text "unread" in order to revisit it at a more convenient time. And after a few hours, your read message is likely pushed beneath 3-5 other messages from people that the prospect actually knows and cares about.
Objective of Text Messaging
The objective of texting is to advance the ball to the next interaction and, in the process, build a trusting relationship across multiple touch-points and multiple communication channels.
Certain topics can be effectively communicated via text. Other topics are better suited for phone, email, or appointments.
Go For It
- Thank you messages
- Virtual tour of a vehicle- We have a Playbook for this too!
- Confirm appointment
- Check availability for appointment
- Send picture for their reference
- Update them on a question they asked
- Discussing price or financing
- Checking if they're still interested
- Letting them know that you emailed or called them
- Hard closing
- Being too sales-oriented (i.e., talking about features, telling them about the new hot deal)
- Sensitive or complex topics
- Cold prospecting or drip campaigning
Unique Form of Professionalism
The most common error we see is a misunderstanding of the unique form of professionalism that is best suited for text messages. This may vary based on the age and buying persona of your prospect as well as your past experience with them. However, 95% of the time you need to balance being too casual and too stuffy.
Good afternoon Michael. It was terrific speaking with you this afternoon on the phone. As discussed, the most appropriate next step would be an appointment. I will be sure to have all of the paperwork and material prepared in advance for your convenience. I have availability this Wednesday at 1:15 pm. Does that align with your schedule?
Hey bro thanks for the call today. are u free wednesday at 115p for an appt? ill have everything read to go for u 👍
Hi Michael, it was nice talking with you today. We discussed setting up an appointment. Are you free on Wednesday at 1:15pm? I'll have the paperwork ready to go.
Length & Cadence
For Initial Text
Hi Molly, thanks for coming in today. I spoke with my service manager about your question. Do you have time at 2:45 pm today for me to walk you through the options?
For All Texts
Avoid length of more than 9 lines (or about 50 words). This is likely to make someone think, "I'll read this later", but chances are high that they will not actually go back and read it.
Avoid short, choppy text messages. When the prospect checks their phone, it's unlikely they'll be pleased to see 7 unread texts from a sales person. It's a form of digital clutter.
As discussed above, you need to use text messaging responsibly, in compliance with the law, and after contact has been established. The natural result of this is that you should only text with prospects who are texting you back. Using text in a "drip campaign" over weeks or months must be avoided.
Call to Action
Similar to what was discussed in the Voicemail Playbook, don't give away all of the key information over text message. Use text message as a way to advance the ball and engage across multiple touch points and multiple channels.
One of the challenges of text message is that it's difficult to identify sticking points and overcome obstacles. The more sticky the situation, the more you'll want to use text message as a bridge to a channel like the phone or an appointment.
Don't Do This
Hi Sara, thanks for speaking with me today. I spoke with my manager about your question. If you put $5,000 down we will be able to get your payment down to $415/month. If you put $7,000 we'll be able to get you to $395/month. How do those sound?
This goes into far too much detail. This is a topic you want to have a meaningful conversation about, and sending it via texts removes a lot of tools from your toolkit. If it doesn't sound good to them, why not? How can you overcome their objection if you aren't able to learn what the objection is?
Do This Instead
Hi Sara, thanks for speaking with me today. I spoke with my manager about your question and I think we'll be able to help you get under $400/mo. Do you have time at 2:45 pm today for me to walk you through the options?
Texting is so common in this day and age that reps taking a nonchalant approach. It seems like a low risk, informal method of communication, so they avoid overthinking it. But that's a major mistake, and they're doing themselves a disservice.
Each individual text a rep sends may seem low risk. But think bigger; how many texts do you send to customers per year? Hundreds? Thousands? What would the impact be over the course of a year if you increase your response rate by 5%? It would have a huge impact on your pocket and the bottom line of your dealership. Give your texts the thoughtfulness that they deserve.
Think about the Preview
In our Voicemail Playbook, we discussed the importance of making your voicemails easy to transcribe. For text messaging, the equivalent is to keep in mind what the prospect will see in the preview of the text.
Remember, you're probably not saved in their phone, so they're getting a text from an unknown number, so send images before you send the accompanying text. Would you be excited to open a text message of an image from an unknown sender?
Send texts during business hours only, taking into account the timezone of your prospect. As discussed above, texting is the most private form of communication, and people guard their text inbox far more than they guard their email or voicemail inbox. Respect that by avoiding invasive texting outside of business hours.
How Can We Help?
Texting with prospects is the way of the world, and Applied Concepts is committed to helping you navigate this reality. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how we can help your dealership grow sales.
1 This playbook is neither intended as, nor should be substituted for, legal counsel related to text message compliance or any other compliance matter.