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Don’t try to sell the car with chat

I can still picture my sales manager coaching me on the nuances of a phone up when I was a rookie on the auto sales floor.

“The whole purpose of a phone call is to set the appointment, not to sell the car” he’d say. “Ask them ‘when can you be here?’”

And so it is with live chat on a dealer website. Like a phone call, it’s nice if you can set an appointment during a chat conversation, but the primary goal is to get contact information so you can continue the conversation and move one step closer to a car deal. Why? Because time is precious.

The average length of a chat conversation with a full-time chat operator is about nine minutes. Dealer staff taking chat conversations in-house can often be as long as 20 minutes or more. As in any means of communication with customers you want to answer questions and help the buyer understand why they consider doing business with your store. However, what you DON’T want is for the poor chat operator running out on the lot during a chat to check tread depth or standing in line at the finance manager desk to ask about ‘best finance rates’. You DO want them to share any advertised specials, sales incentives (like lifetime warranties), CarFax reports, and basic vehicle data.


If you set your staff up as chat OPERATORS, and not salespeople or managers during a chat, they can legitimately ask the shopper if they can “have someone contact you with more detail,” even if THAT OPERATOR is the one who contacts them. That becomes a WARM follow-up call.

Chat leads from the dealership website typically close at a rate equal or greater than website contact form leads, so many dealers enjoy a closing ratio of 20-30 percent with their chat leads. With the right processes and philosophies in place, including a focus on getting contact information instead of trying to sell the car during the conversation, live chat can be an effect way to boost car sales. 


Tom LaPointe CarChat24 CHAT GURU 24/7 Interactive Automotive Dealer Website LIVE CHAT Solutions Hosted or In-House Options – FREE web chat software 727-638-0195

A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with nearly 20 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He has been involved with the internet from the beginning, building websites at Johns Hopkins University in the 90's, and has been a performance leader in nearly every dealer role, from sales and service, to BDC / internet sales and viral marketing.

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