It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It

Those of you with spouses have probably heard this at least once: "It's not what you say, it's how you say it!" Whether at home or at work, miscommunication can cause plenty of problems.


Have you ever misinterpreted the tone of an email that a colleague wrote to you? Perhaps you thought a tersely written email meant that person was angry, but in fact, they were just rushed. Or someone joked about something in an email, but you took offense because you thought they were serious?


Miscommunication is so common that it's one of the main reasons why some dealerships require BDC staff and salespeople to use templates for customer communications. And it's why some CEOs are issuing video recommendations to employees, instead of email memos.


Videos allow people to see how you're saying something, leaving little room for error in the interpretation of what you're saying. In fact, videos are so effective at expressing personality and tone that it's become trendy for job seekers to send video resumes to prospective employers.


Let's face it: a public perception still exists that in general, car dealers are not humble, caring or honest. One bad experience with an overeager or aggressive salesperson is all it takes to forever sour the car-buying experience for a consumer.


As a dealer, how do you change this perception? You could try creating marketing slogans and post them on your website, in ads and in emails, but words by themselves don't have much impact. Online consumers are very adept at scanning information to find out what's important to them; which isn't necessarily what the dealership thinks is important. We all have the ability to ignore or visually 'tune out' messages right before our eyes.


When a consumer watches a video, however, it's not as easy to tune out the message. Videos offer a multimedia experience with live action, sounds and sights, so the entire message is absorbed. Retention rises too. Video viewers retain 80% of what they hear and see in videos, versus just 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they see.


This is partly due to the fact that so much of our communication is non-verbal. Think about your own experiences. Have you ever had a customer service experience and were put off by the customer service rep, even though they were saying all the right things? Perhaps you believed the person wasn't truly sincere. Or perhaps their tone started getting defensive, leaving you with the impression that they didn't care about your problem.


When we communicate, we pick up multiple cues from facial expressions, gestures and tone. This happens largely on a sub-conscious level, but the end result--the emotion we feel--is very conscious.


If you're looking for ways to improve customer perception and communications at your dealership, try creating the following videos.

  • A value proposition video that features a dealer or other company spokesperson showing, not telling, what your dealership has to offer
  • Vehicle walk around videos that generate emotion and excitement about your inventory
  • Customer testimonial videos that feature real customers saying nice things about your staff; these do a lot to alleviate car shoppers' fears about a bad experience
  • Lead follow up videos from salespeople that engage car shoppers; if the salesperson comes across as likeable, these greatly increase the probability of response
  • Service videos that feature service staff help to build trust and the perception of honesty

Of course, you have to make sure that your videos are conveying not just the right message, but the right tone. When you first start to create videos, ask as many people as you can for their objective and true opinions. Don't get emotionally attached to the videos you've created, and don't get defensive if the feedback from others isn't what you want to hear. The last thing you want to do it spend time and money creating videos that turn prospective customers off.


Video communication is powerful, so use it wisely. More than two million years of evolution has equipped most humans with the ability to accurately sense insincerity, arrogance and plain old hogwash. So say what you mean, and if you don't truly mean it, don't say it.

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Comment by Mike Stoner on April 28, 2017 at 1:14pm

We asked 3 questions: 1) Tell us about your new car. 2) What do you like most about it? and 3) Would your recommend your salesperson and the dealership to your friends and family?

Sometimes we would ad lib, depending on the customer, like this one

Comment by Patty Van Dyke on April 28, 2017 at 12:51pm

Great article.  Thank you for sharing.  I always push our "guys" to do short video clips for me ... it's like pulling teeth to get them to do just one.  I'm just starting to push the post-sale interview with a customer.  I ask the sales staff to come up with just two simple questions that they can ask the guest (let the guest know the questions ahead of time) and ask them on "camera" those questions.  I will then post them to our YouTube and Facebook pages.  Baby steps, I guess!!!

Comment by Mike Stoner on April 27, 2017 at 5:24pm

When a person goes on camera, says their name and what they’re up to, you trust them more.

It used to be when you wanted to buy a car or truck you had to have a conversation with a person. That’s all changed. People now sit home at their computers and shop a half dozen dealerships at one time. This lack of human interaction costs. The product becomes a commodity, price goes down and along with it our profit potential.

It’s about your personality and expertise – your face and your voice.  It’s about communicating more completely – with all the subtlety, nuance, emotion, and non-verbal cues that only video can deliver.  It’s about being real and being human.  It’s about being there in person through the power of video.

Now, more often than not first impressions are made entirely online. It doesn’t matter how nice your email templates look, it is still just text on a screen.  Video email enables you to talk face to face without being there in person.

Putting a face and a voice to the message with a personalized video email gives you a tremendous advantage over the text on a screen delivery. It puts you much closer to establishing a relationship with your prospect.

The goal of every business is to connect with the customer, wherever that customer is, at the moments that count. It seems video is the only option left for companies to connect with consumers.

Comment by Mike Stoner on April 27, 2017 at 5:22pm


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