I Went on a Blind Date Yesterday. Their Name was…?

Written by:
Written by:
Heather MacKinnon

By Heather MacKinnon, VP of Sales

Many people over time have gone on blind dates. Sometimes those dates were set-up by friends and scheduled for one person to meet the other with the two having no knowledge of each other. Sometimes the one being set-up by their friends has some information about who they will be meeting and sometimes both parties have some prior knowledge of each other. The problem is that sometimes one (or both) party ends up disappointed.

“I had a blind date. I waited two hours on the corner. A girl walked by. I said, “Are you Louise?” She said, “Are you Rodney?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “I’m not Louise.”

That quote by the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield couldn’t ring truer in the world of Internet leads. The consumer will absolutely know much more about the dealership while the dealership has little to no knowledge of the consumer. My bet is that had Louise had a great first impression of Rodney, she would have given him a chance. Just like Internet leads, both Louise (the consumer) and Rodney (the dealer), showed up to the “date.” Louise, however, didn’t like what she saw so she proceeded to deny who she was. How many Internet leads come in and never respond? Perhaps a similar situation is happening.

Internet leads transcend blind dates.  In current times, given that a consumer will visit as many as 28 touchpoints before contacting a dealer, the consumer could easily find themselves on 3 or more “blind dates” at the same time with multiple dealerships trying to woo that consumer “date” and win that business (so to speak.)

Internet leads, however, are more reminiscent of a speed dating session than a blind date. If you’re unfamiliar with speed dating, this is where many single people are in a room, bar, or other social venue and have a limited amount of time with each person (usually about 2 minutes or less) to learn about them. In this short period of time, judgments are made about each person. Am I interested? Do I want to progress in spending more time with this person? Internet leads are the exact… same… thing. Dealers have a minimal amount of time to get a consumer interested in them whilst other dealers are waiting patiently for their turn.

In my last blog, I explained the importance of first impressions. It’s not just first impressions, however, that piques someone’s interest. It’s also how you engage with that person that matters.

And herein lies what’s called the “Contrast Effect.”

In the Fall of 2012, researchers Bhargava (Carnegie Mellon University) and Fisman (Columbia University published a research paper in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Journal in which psychologists documented sequential evaluations of subjects when exposed to multiple variables across social domains in the context of speed dating.  What they found through their research was that decisions are not only made quickly but also affected the subsequent decision.

“The more positive (excited, interested, or happy) participants felt after one interaction partner, the less attracted they were toward a new interaction partner…”

Think about that for a second. If you were in a speed dating scenario, wouldn’t you want to be that first positive interaction? According to scientific research, if you can pull that off, every subsequent interaction is less attractive to you. Brains are funny things. Even today, medicine doesn’t know exactly how they work. In this case, however, studies show that being the first positive interaction with someone decreases the likelihood that every interaction AFTER YOU is less attractive.

The moral of this story is that in order to increase your dealership’s chances of success and get customers to engage and choose your dealership over another is that not only do you have to make a great first impression but also the dialogue you have with that consumer needs to be interesting, engaging, and, most importantly incite emotion. You only have a minute (if that) to accomplish this task but, if you can do so, the person you briefly met on a speed date will find his or her way right back to you.

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