Guest Post: Closing Internet Leads with Video Responses – Elise Kephart

Take yourself outside of the auto industry for a moment.

The coffee shop I go to daily is out of my driving way, but I go there because they provide me with the best service and great tasting coffee.  The nail place I get my nails done is not the cheapest place in town or the closest to my house but I go there because they do an excellent job in their services and give me personal attention.

These are small purchases in my daily life.


So imagine spending instead of $2 for a coffee, $15,000 for a car.  Or perhaps I am shopping for an SUV, so now I am spending $30,000 on a vehicle. Who would you buy a car from?

As Internet and BDC departments continue to grow with over 85% of buyers now doing research online, it is mandatory we must use this to our advantage.

BRING VALUE to your first impression.  Once upon a time, emails were cutting edge.  Proper punctuation, maybe a signature at the bottom or company logo would catch the customers attention.

Now, with the CRM companies providing auto responders-many of these emails are close to or nearly the same.  An email is nothing more than words on a screen.  There is no audio, no tone inflection or any emotion.  There is nothing in an email that can excite a customer except for maybe a low ball price.  In an email we have the least control and many dealerships are forced under the perception that the only way to win an internet customer is to drop their pants and sell their product below invoice and give away holdback.

I am here to tell you this is a broken method.

The evolution of a customer starts with the first moment of truth.  A customer is shopping online for a vehicle.  The internet, a chat session or even a phone call will not gain a sale to your dealership.  The customer still needs to come to the dealership.  86% of customers end up buying something different than what they originally inquired on, and the only way for a customer to make a purchase is to come to the dealership.

first moment of truth

As a customer however, they are taught to have an instinctual fear of Car Salespeople.  Salespeople are stereotyped to be just as pleasant as sitting in a dentist chair.  An email or even a phone call is much less personal to a customer to where they do not have to come in.  However, our goal as a dealership is to get the customer in the store.  How do we do this?

The first moment of truth is where this process begins.

Working in the internet department, we all face the same challenges.  An invalid phone number and sometimes even a bogus name.  A customer does this because of the fear they have of being bothered or pushed into a sale.

So imagine being a customer, submitting an internet request and you receive the same autoresponder from 15 dealers.  Then, there is one email where instead of just words is a personalized video message.

A video message that is simple and short.  A video with a face, a voice and introductory of the salesperson and their genuinality in serving your needs.

Working at Sunset Honda, this was the process that I did to bring the customer into the store.  The result for me  was not only a huge cliental basis but responses from customers like below.

customer response from video

The result for me closed 20% of my internet leads.  And not just a high closing ratio, but a loyal customer basis who would drive four hours JUST to buy from me.  A dealership in LA or San Jose (both 4 hours from Sunset Honda, San Luis Obispo) would send low ball quotes below invoice but this ultimately was not want the customer wanted.  My customers wanted exactly what I preached-a relationship and a person who cared for their needs and would be there for them the entire process.  Nothing better than a video message with visuals and tone would create this  first moment of truth.

Customers want a valuable salesperson who is above the stereotype.  They want someone who will assist them in their entire purchase and future purchases. They want someone they like and trust.  It goes back to the same reason on why I drive out of my way to go to a certain coffee shop, or why I pay more to go to a certain nail shop.

The common response after seeing these videos is time efficiency.  The veterans in the business are convinced that this takes too much time.  The average salesperson will complain that it will take too much time to send a video-and then at the end of the month they have 8 cars out.  The truth to this however is that times are changing and we need to evolve with it-otherwise your competition will and your customers will buy outside of their local  market to purchase from the salesperson who brings them the most value.

The video greetings I sent took me five minutes to make.  The hardest part of course was learning the software to edit them.  This however is just like any other task we must learn in our business such as it was when the internet first came around and we had to learn how to write and send an email, or how to upload a photo.

customer response elise

Is your internet department getting feedback like this?

Bring your customers into the dealership to sell the car.  Be the dealership or salesperson that will create the highest first impression to get your customer to trust and like you.

Elise Kephart

General Manager at Ernie Dean Chevrolet Buick GMC in Alliston, ON. Sharing with you everything I can about the car business.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

15 thoughts on “Guest Post: Closing Internet Leads with Video Responses – Elise Kephart

  1. Our dealers using CitNOW answer inbound enquiries, whether phone or an email enquiry with a personalised video response. This includes an introduction by the sales executive about himself and the dealership, then a video walk around of the vehicle in question proceeds. This is all delivered to the customer in a dealer branded window. Ultimately it allows the dealers to be able to bring the customer from the comfort of their own home to the showroom.

    We repeatedly see dealers converting at least 40% of customer enquiries that they send a video to. The customer is put at ease and an emotional connection can start to form through video and we have had instances when customers have then walked into the dealership and immediately recognised the executive that sent the video.

    This article highlights well how dealers can differentiate their approach by responding with a video, you will be amazed by the enthusiastic responses that customers come back with, simply because you took care of your enquiring customer.

  2. @Rorie – Thanks for stopping by! It would be great if you could provide us a link where we could view one of these videos. Sounds like a pretty effective plan of attack.

  3. I would like to thanks this article and say that we are about to start doing this video response here in our store. I just have one question, it is better to send the videos on YouTube and link them to the e-mail or just attach at the email as a normal video?

    Any other way to make the video private only for the customer?


  4. There are options in YouTube to make a video unlisted which can be found in settings. If you do this, only people who are sent the link can watch the videos. This way you can keep it private.

  5. Hi all! Yes, the post was answered, there is a way to link the customer the video so that it is private.

    Thank you everyone for the response from the article. It is always a pleasure to be featured-thank you again Ryan!

  6. It works. I sent out the first video today with a PDF document about the car and the price. I can say that the client loved our response and came to our store to buy the car.

    I just have to say thank you. We are from Brazil and look how people sell cars in USA and apply here is a great opportunity to be better than others.

    If you want me to tell more about this sell, it will be a plesure.


  7. @Gabriel – I’m so happy to hear you were able to get a car deal out of this form of communication. Hope things are well in Brazil!! Feel free to stop back and share any future success stories.

  8. Glad I didn’t miss this. Excellent demonstration of differentiation. I shared on our FB page and will probably include this in our Top 5 Picks in next month’s newsletter. Thanks Ryan.

  9. @Ryan – Thanks for spreading the love. This one post has helped dealers around the world. I will use it as a reference for a long time.

  10. I remember using video years ago, before Youtube. I used a company called Hello World… I think! LOL I always did well with it and sold lots of cars. It amazes me that more salespeople aren’t using it, all these years later. Nice post Elise.

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