Just a few years ago, we likely never dreamed we’d be using text messaging as part of the sales process. But more and more dealers are using text messaging to facilitate communication between sales staff and customers.

SMS texting allows quick, direct communication that works on most mobile phones today. In addition, US adults are more than twice as likely to have adopted SMS as any other form of mobile messaging, such as email, MMS, or instant messaging. It’s no wonder that more sales managers are looking for CRM applications with integrated texting capabilities, like AutoRaptor.

Of course, having the ability to send and receive texts through your CRM is only one piece of the puzzle. We recommend first evaluating proper uses and the responsibility that comes with messaging to your customers’ mobile devices, and having guidelines in place for your sales staff to follow.

Here are six rules for text messaging that you should consider for your dealership.

 

Rule #1: Ask permission.

Times are changing. Years ago, we would probably have said never when asked when it was okay to send a text message to your prospects or customers. But today we know that texting is appropriate—but with some restrictions.

Text messaging an existing customer is always okay when you know that they are comfortable with it. It’s a simple–and courteous–question to ask, and should be done at the time when you are gathering their contact info. You may be surprised at the number of people who are more than happy to take their communication with you to text: they know it’s easy, they’re already doing it, so to your customers it just makes sense. When you have direct permission to use texting with your customers, there’s no reason not to.

 

 

Rule #2: Never send text messages to any customers who don’t want to receive them.

If you’ve followed rule number one, then this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Keep in mind that many individuals only use text for personal communication among family and friends. The last thing you want to achieve is annoyance—if your customer has told you they don’t welcome text messages from you or anyone else at the dealership, then don’t do it!

Rule #3: Identify yourself.

When initiating a text message conversation with a customer, be sure to state who you are—first and last name—as well as the name of your dealership. The person you are sending to may not recognize who you are, so be sure to state that at the start of your very first message. This is not only common courtesy, but also helps to avoid awkward miscommunication. Or even worse—that your message is ignored completely!

Rule #4: Don’t get too casual.

Business communication in any form must adhere to some standards that keep your dealership’s image professional and consistent. The use of abbreviations and text slang is widespread and second-nature to many. But it’s always better to err on the side of conservative when texting your customers. In other words, this isn’t the time for abbreviations, letter/number combinations, slang, or other common forms of text speak. Your customers will appreciate the effort you’ve made to come across courteously and professionally, and you ensure that whatever you are saying is being understood clearly and with little room for misinterpretation.

Rule #5: Keep it simple.

Small talk is something you are probably great at and it serves you well to warm up to your customers on the lot. But when texting, less is more. If your message is a call to action—whether a request for information, setting up an appointment time, or any other question you wish to have answered, be careful not to let the point of your communication to get lost in a lengthy string of messages. Aim to keep you text messages short and concise.

Rule #6: Respond quickly

The immediacy of text messaging is undoubtedly the biggest appeal of this form of communication. So when your customers send you a text, they expect an immediate response. If you’ve been engaging in back and forth text exchange with a customer or prospect, be sure that you are doing them the courtesy of responding to their messages in a timely manner.  But in an effort to be timely, be careful not to rush! When distracted or busy with other tasks, it’s easy to send a response message too quickly, without taking the time to think through fully what you want to say.

These tips, along with an integrated text messaging application that allows for complete transparency and accountability, will make communicating with your prospects and customers so much simpler.