Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vishing: How to Avoid Taking the Bait

Credit Card Information Being Phished
Scenario: It's been a hard week at work, and you're sitting there daydreaming about a white sandy beach with shimmering blue water somewhere far away. Suddenly you receive a phone call from a number you've never seen before, but the area code is local, so it must be important. You go outside to answer, and to your delight, the caller says, "Congratulations, you're the lucky winner of a five-day getaway in Jamaica!" Now all they need is your card info to credit your account. Wow, how lucky are you?

Not very.

Phishing, or the act of attempting to obtain confidential or financial information from people via email, has been running rampant among everyone with an email address since 1996. But hackers aren't just using emails to seize your personal info. Vishing, which is phishing via phone calls, is rapidly advancing. Every month, more than 86.2 million vishing calls are made in the U.S. So what can you do to avoid being lured into their trap? Follow these simple tips.

Don't Fall for Their Lines


Does that phone call sound a little phishy? It probably is. Educate yourself on the most common scams now so you can recognize when one is happening to you:
  • The IRS scam: One of the most prevalent scams within the past year, the IRS scam occurs when an "IRS agent" calls to inform you that you either have refund due or that you owe money to the government. The IRS will never call about taxes owed without mailing you first. To avoid this situation, hang up and on another line call the official IRS number for a reliable source to verify the situation. 
  • Vishing combined with malware: This vishing tactic involves a support representative calling from a company you are familiar with. The scammer tells you that you have a virus on your computer that can easily be fixed with their help. They then request that you grant them remote access to your computer so they can troubleshoot the issue. What they're really doing is installing malicious software that'll encrypt all your data. Never click on questionable links or follow instructions if something seems off.
  • The "yes" scam: Some vishers attempt to record you saying the word "yes" by asking a simple question like "Can you hear me?" They can then use the recording to access your account and provide verbal confirmation for wire transfers or some other questionable reason. The scammer may also ask if you'd like your name on the Do Not Call (DNC) registry. Well, of course you do, but the government never calls people to ask them if they want to be added to the DNC list. If you get one of these calls, hang up immediately and go to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website to register your number instead.
  • The bank scheme: In this scam, hackers call businesses in search of passwords or financial information by claiming they're your bank or business adviser. Alert your staff to never give out PINs or passwords over the phone, and let your bank or financial adviser know what happened.
Although this is not an exhaustive list, knowing about four of the most-used vishing scams will help you prevent scammers from taking advantage of you. Because scammers are always plotting ingenious ways to trick you, err on the side of caution every time you answer your phone.

Verify Callers' Identities

Determining which calls to take and which to avoid can be tricky. When you get a call you weren't expecting, consider these tips from the FTC (we like to call them the Four W's):

  • Who's calling? Identifying the caller should be your first line of defense. Bear in mind that laws require sales callers to state their name and product before they begin selling you something.
  • When are they calling? Telemarketers can only legally call between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. If a call comes in outside that time frame, ignore it. However, even if a call does fall within the correct time frame, you should still check for other signs of fraud.
  • What's the rush? Everyone is in a hurry these days, but if someone seems exceptionally pushy, that's a telltale sign of a scammer. If the caller won't take no for an answer, just hang up.
  • Why are they asking for sensitive information? Don't provide or confirm sensitive information if you're not sure of the caller's identity. If the caller claims to represent a specific company you do business with, hang up and call the number posted on the company's website to verify that the caller's request is legitimate. If so, make sure you understand why the business is asking for confidential information before providing it.
Be cautious when providing sensitive or confidential information over the phone, or you could lose thousands of dollars — or your job, if you put your business at risk of a security breach — and then you definitely won't be going on any beach vacations!

Report Suspicious Calls to FTC Officials


Or should we say ophishals? The FTC wants to hear about any scams that happen to you. The agency even took two companies to court after they attempted to call people on the DNC registry and sell them fake warranties.

By following these tips and utilizing these resources, you can thwart vishing attempts. Have you heard of any other vishing scams occurring recently? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

How Does Live Video Fit Into Your Dealership's Social Media Strategy?

Man takes photo with smartphone
Not so long ago, social media probably felt like just another wild fad. Dealerships questioned if it was worth signing up for social accounts and if it could really help their marketing. But after millions of posts, photos and GIFs, social media is still kicking, and dealerships everywhere are using it to build brands and foster loyalty.

Today you're probably feeling some of that same trepidation when looking at the onslaught of live video streaming. Is it a fad? Is it worth the time? Will anybody watch? While you might look at services like Facebook Live and Twitter's Periscope as the social media flavor of the month, you could be missing out if live video isn't playing a role in your dealership's social media marketing.

Let's take a look at some of the questions you might be having about live video streaming.

Why Live Video?


Live video offers your customers an unfiltered look at your dealership that they don't get from professionally-produced and scripted video content. TV and video advertisements are great and should play a role in your marketing, but live video brings something different to the table. It humanizes your dealership and gives your customers an opportunity to get to know the people behind the flashy ads.

Because many consider social media to be a poor source of leads, engagement is the metric that matters to marketers. Are people interacting with and commenting on your content? That's engagement. Forrester Research recently revealed that live video receives three times the engagement of pre-recorded video, meaning people are more likely to help spread your message if it's a live video.

Are People Watching?


Just as smartphones have been the driving force behind a boom in phone calls placed to businesses, they have also contributed to the explosion of live video streaming. Smartphones and mobile devices let you easily follow what's happening with your friends and favorite brands wherever you are. They also give you an easy way to broadcast yourself on the go.

With smartphones making it easy to view and records videos, 46 percent of all digital video consumption is now happening on mobile devices. The NFL recognized this when it decided to stream several games on Twitter during the 2016 season. The first stream had 2.1 million unique viewers over the course of the game. Sure, the NFL has a few more fans than a typical dealership, but people are definitely watching. Just don't expect millions of views from the start.

What Should We Stream?


You might be tempted to use live video to talk about your screaming hot deals and how customers should get down to the showroom today. DON'T DO IT! As we mentioned earlier, few businesses see social media as a good lead source. It's all about building loyalty, so you shouldn't be posting about your lot inventory all the time anyway. You shouldn't use live video to do it either.

Live video isn't traditional advertising. Don't get online just to read a script and then log off. Much like your regular social media channels, you should use it to interact with customers. Give followers the opportunity to have their questions answered by sales, service or F&I reps with a live Q&A session — but keep it brief. Remember the 2.1 million unique viewers of that NFL stream? Only one-eigth of that amount was watching at any given minute.

You can also use live video to promote big events. Are you grilling free hamburgers and hot dogs for a Memorial Day sales event? Use a live video stream to show your followers what they're missing. The video doesn't have to be about your great deals. Just give them a reason to visit your dealership and feel like they're getting something out of it.

What are some ways you can deploy live video streaming as part of your social media strategy? Do you have an idea for a unique way to interact with your customers from afar? Let us know in the comments.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How to Rescue the Leads That Get Away

Baseball player makes a leaping catch
The one that got away — we've all experienced it. Going all in at the poker table with a full house and losing to a four-of-a-kind hand. Waving goodbye to your middle-school sweetheart when they move away during the summer. Having a fish spit out the hook right before it lands in the net. Coming up short is practically a fact of life.

Dealerships often feel the same way about leads that slip away. These days, every lead can make a difference, but tracking down leads lost to unanswered phones, dropped calls or even bad customer service experiences can feel like a herculean task. Is it worth the effort and resources?

The good news is that rescuing lost leads doesn't have to be a nightmare. Here are some things you need to know about lost leads and how to save them.

Recovering From Bad Customer Service


Research firm Luntz Group recently revealed that 40 percent of Americans dread the idea of buying a new car. Basically, they're already cringing when they pick up the phone to call your dealership. That means the first impression is critical to make sure your buyers feel comfortable in working with you and your reps.

However, phone conversations don't always go as planned. A new sales rep might not have much training, and a flubbed pitch could lead to a frustrated customer hanging up the phone. The poorly trained rep will probably just move on to the next lead, and management will be none the wiser. But what if you could be notified when these types of calls happen?

Consider deploying a service that listens to and reviews calls going in and out of your dealership. A team of highly trained professionals can spot mishandled calls like the one above and let you know when a call needs to be followed up on to work out the problem. This way leads aren't left frustrated and telling their friends how unhappy they were with your dealership. Instead they'll be impressed that you took time to make things right.

Returning Missed Calls


Sometimes customers simply slip through the cracks. In an ideal world,  your dealership employees answer every call — whether they're to your sales reps' direct lines or a general line that a receptionist should answer. However, for various reasons, some calls just don't get through. And since many people don't leave voicemails, how will you know who needs to be called back?

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking a customer will try to call again if they don't get through the first time, but that next call could be to a different dealership. If your employees aren't answering calls, customers might think they're not important to you. At that point it's not as simple as a call that slipped through the cracks — callers view lack of responsiveness as bad customer service.

Be sure you have a way to capture call information whether the caller leaves a message or not. It would also help if you could be notified that a call was missed and needs to be returned. You might not know exactly what the customer was calling for, but following up with a missed call can let customers know that you care and you want their business.

Letting leads slip away because you don't want to go through the trouble of following up or you don't have correct contact info is unacceptable in today's competitive market. What are some ways you've made sure your dealership's leads don't fall through the cracks?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Grill up Some Dealership Marketing Success

Grilled steak
The weather is starting to cool off, meaning that if your grill isn't reserved for football game tailgates, it's likely already in storage for the winter. But down here in Texas, it's almost always grilling season, and it's hard to beat a big, juicy grilled steak.

As easy as grilling the perfect steak might sound, steak is fickle and can become tough if you're not careful. Likewise, when your dealership is trying to create a rich marketing campaign, it's just as easy for things to go bad quickly.

If you're craving a delectable steak and want to make your dealership's marketing campaigns as enticing as a filet mignon from a high-end steakhouse, here are some tips for you.

Don't Overcook It


How you like you steak prepared — whether it's rare, medium or well done — is entirely up to you. While some of us might prefer a medium-rare steak, even a well-done steak can be tasty. But no matter how you like it, you usually cut into it to make sure it's not too dry.

Marketing campaigns can end up dry too. If you let a campaign run too long, it can start looking tired and overused to your potential customers. You need to make sure the campaign is producing your desired results. If it is, great job! If not, put it on pause and take it back to make it perfect. Be sure you have a way to measure marketing impact so you know when a campaign isn't generating leads anymore.

Know When to Keep It Simple


The temperature of your cooked steak can dictate flavor, but seasoning and marinades can play big roles as well. While complex marinades are perfectly acceptable, you should consider using a basic seasoning if you want the meat to speak for itself. Sauces and marinades can complement a prime cut of beef, but a simple sprinkle of salt and pepper will allow the steak's natural flavor to shine.

The steak, which is the focus of the flavor, is a bit like the message you want to convey in your marketing campaigns. Marinades, sauces and seasonings are like the ways you try to draw attention to your campaigns. It's easy to let the bells and whistles — such as a script-heavy website or a big PR stunt — take precedence over the message. Use only as many attention-grabbing techniques as you need, because using too many can smother your original message, leaving prospects wondering what you're even selling.

Occasionally Go Against the Grain


There are many cuts of steak to choose from when you want to grill some meat, but most are pretty similar in thickness and shape. If you want to try something really different, look at a "cowboy cut" rib eye — just make sure you grill it right. Since it's a thick, bone-in cut, the cowboy cut can't just be thrown on the grill for a few minutes. It takes longer to cook over low heat and must be flipped frequently. That time investment can create a dinner that's a little different and delicious.

It might take more time to see success when you stray from your traditional approach, but a new approach can be worth the wait if it's done right. Much like how you don't want to overextend your traditional campaigns or use too many bells and whistles, a new approach should follow the same pattern. Just be sure you take the time to make it right, because even a minor mistake can be expensive and damage your dealership's brand.

So how do you like your marketing campaigns prepared? Do you like to keep them simple and on-message, or do you go the extra mile to make them stand out? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Data-Backed Decisions Can Take Your Sales to Stellar Heights

Children pretend to be astronauts
Do you think the engineers planning the Mars missions haphazardly lob rockets into space hoping they make it to Mars? When billions of dollars of infrastructure and hardware are at risk, a ton of data collection and research go into every little decision.

Collecting and using data to make marketing, sales and training decisions can set you apart from your competitors, but ignoring the information available to you can send your dealership toward disaster. Here's how you can use the right data to your advantage.

Improve the Sales Process


Data collection needs to be a priority for your company so you can more efficiently direct your marketing and training efforts. Surveys after a sale can give you information on why customers picked a particular vehicle, why they picked your dealership and how they felt about the sales process. Recording and monitoring calls can also give you insight into how reps are performing.

For long-term improvement of your sales process, you're going to need more than just accurate contact data. Detailed demographics of your customers can reveal what kind of features they're looking for, how they feel about one brand over another and even where your sales process might be faltering.

Know What the Customer Wants


If you knew a customer were shopping for a certain type of car with certain features, wouldn't it benefit you to put a targeted ad in front of their eyes before they visited one of your competitors? Wouldn't you like to know some key pain points that might make them change their preferred make or model? Knowing what a customer is looking for before your competitor does gives you the perfect opportunity to strike while the iron is hot.

Data also gives you insight into which advertising methods are working and which ones aren't. Paying for ineffective advertising doesn't do anybody any good. Tracking lead sources, whether through phone calls, clicks or search terms will allow you to focus your efforts on the more successful sources.

Meeting Customers' Expectations


Dealerships are frequently happy to let sales figures do the talking. After all, if a rep isn't make sales, there must be a problem. Having access to performance data and being able to see where that sales rep is falling short can give you insight into how to improve their training. Don't buy into the myth that training should have a one-size-fits-all approach. Everybody has a different way of learning.

Meeting customers' expectations and providing stellar service can be the difference between them sticking with you or leaving for your competitor. Most Americans have given up on a transaction at some point because of a poor service experience, and the majority of those who have done so likely won't consider you again once they leave. Improved data analysis leads to better training and happier customers.

The next time you want to make decisions on the fly, take a moment to realize how much you can learn from the data. Otherwise, "Houston, we have a problem," because dealership margins are too slim for dealers to be making haphazard and unguided decisions.

Monday, October 10, 2016

[INFOGRAPHIC] Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel

How does your customer service look? If you've been neglecting training your staff, you might be suffering consequences you don't even know about. For example, did you know that 89 percent of consumers stopped doing business with a company after a poor experience?

Check out the infographic below for more shocking customer service statistics.

Infographic - Customer Service: The Forgotten Marketing Channel

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

(Snack) Attack Your Marketing and Sales

An assortment of snack foods
One of the most relevant subjects to the human race is food.

Brace yourselves (and maybe grab a snack); a lot of food talk follows.

We absolutely love food. And rightfully so — it’s delicious. Most of us consume it at least three times a day to keep our bodies going from sun up to sun down. We prepare it ourselves. We pay restaurant chefs to make it. We wait in lines of vehicles to take it on the go. The list goes on and on.

But perhaps the most underrated food form is the good ol’ afternoon snack. So grab your favorite tasty treat and nibble on these marketing and sales tips.

Take Advantage of Chip... Er, Cheap But Effective Options


A bag of tortilla chips paired with a nice big bowl of zesty salsa is a cheap but effective way to fill you up. Can a snack get any better than that? If you said no, you’re wrong. That might sound harsh, but we’re serious about our chips and dip here. The only downfall to this tasty snack is that some chips are going to break off into the salsa, leaving you half-chipless and completely dipless. It’s a sad but inevitable truth. But don’t fret, because your next dipped chip will return the savory goodness back to your eager taste buds.

Similarly, starting a new social media campaign is a low-budget way to upgrade your marketing. Posting on social media sites costs you nothing (except for a small portion of your time), but it can increase the reach of your marketing activities significantly. Unfortunately, new content is posted so often that some posts tend to get lost in the salsa that is social media. On the bright side, the accelerated content turnover allows you to post as frequently as you desire, so you can make up for any posts that get swallowed up.

Create the Perfect Mix 


Trail mix is quite possibly the most diverse (and deliciously nutritious) snack on the shelves. What makes trail mix so great? Every single ingredient is essential to perfecting the overall concoction. Each has an individual purpose. Without the nuts, you wouldn’t have the salty component. Without the M&Ms, you wouldn’t have the sweetness. Without the raisins… well, you get the picture. With every ingredient you add, the trail mix continues to improve.

With that in mind, implementing an advertising campaign with diverse components is an effective way to boost your marketing. Using a variety of platforms like social media, direct mail, mobile marketing and traditional media can increase your ROI by 24 percent. Each platform gives your company a better chance of reaching your target market, so add some new marketing channels into the mix for your next campaign.

Get It While It’s Hot!


Whether you prefer your popcorn buttered, salted, caramelized, or heck, even kettled, we can all agree that it's best when it's fresh and hot. Some like to savor the flavor and take time eating it, even setting it aside to save for later. We don't judge these outcasts, but we do have some advice: Don’t wait too long to eat it, or it’ll get cold and stale.

Leads are the same way — you need to capture them while they’re still hot. When new leads pop up, it’s crucial that your sales team take action immediately before the leads turn cold and stale. In fact, 35-50 percent of sales go to the sales team that contacts customers first. Responding with urgency so you’re the first to contact a lead can make a huge difference in your business’s conversions.

Want to chip in some of your own marketing and sales tips? Dip into the comments below to let us know.