The best opportunity for dealers to sell more cars RIGHT NOW is to manage three simple phone skills.
Imagine it’s a typical Tuesday. Your dealership receives three unique phone calls.
1. The first caller asks for new car sales. She waits on hold for three minutes and hangs up.
2. The next asks for a vehicle that is in stock. The sales agent doesn’t offer a time for a test drive.
3. The last caller is interested in a vehicle and the sales agent tells them “Let me check and call you back.” The follow up call never happens.
Every day, dealerships receive millions of phone calls that end just like these. The best dealers realize this enormous profit leak happening on their phones and have stepped up their game.
The good news is your marketing is working and these problems can easily be solved with basic tactics and the right data.
STEP 1 – ANSWER THE PHONE
Simple enough, right? You may be thinking, “My receptionist is great and always answers!” It’s true that great strides have been made to ensure calls connect to a dealership, but what gets ignored is whether or not these calls actually reach someone who can assist the caller.
In a recent study, we listened to 2 million inbound dealership calls and found that only 61% of callers are ever actually connected to a qualified agent. This means that over 1/3 of your callers don’t even get the chance to speak with someone who can help them. These are first time callers, hot shoppers, and service opportunities who will call the dealer down the street if not quickly helped by your staff.
The culprits of this problem are not surprising when you listen closely: specifically requested sales agents are almost never available, callers hang up while waiting on hold or after being transferred to the incorrect department, and there plenty of instances where the caller doesn’t even leave a voicemail or message. Every instance, however, is an opportunity to speak with a potential new customer.
TIPS FOR ANSWERING THE PHONE
1. Instruct any individual who handles your phone calls to memorize this and use it with abandon:
“Is there something that I could help you with?”
Dealerships that use this line often see an immediate increase of 10-15% in true answered phone calls. This means more prospects talking to qualified agents, more appointments and more cars sold.
2. Try a phone bridge to connect callers to the right person in the right department. This streamlines the caller’s experience and quickly gets them where they need to be.
“Thank you for calling ABC Dealership! For Sales, please press 1. For Service, please press 2.”
STEP 2 – REQUEST THE APPOINTMENT
Shoppers have incredible tools that provide vast amounts of data on vehicles they are interested in buying. The last piece in their shopping experience, however, is usually the most important: Visiting the dealership to physically experience the vehicle.
Dealerships must realize this and understand that the purpose of every inbound sales call is to sell the appointment.
Unfortunately most dealers don’t stress a culture of appointment-setting on inbound calls.
Why request the appointment on every inbound sales call? Because callers offered an appointment give some sort of commitment 88% of the time. In other words: REQUESTING THE APPOINTMENT WORKS!
The better question is, “Why NOT ask for the appointment!”
TIPS FOR REQUESTING THE APPOINTMENT
1. Drop what you’re doing and immediately instruct your team to work for an appointment on every inbound sales call. The sooner every phone call is treated as an opportunity to invite shoppers to your store, the sooner booked appointments will increase.
2. When asking for an appointment, proactively provide two times of availability and confirm the exact time before ending the call.
“Which is better for you, this afternoon at 4:15 or 5:45?”
3. Have some enthusiasm! Get excited about the opportunity to welcome prospects to your store. This buzz of energy is felt by callers and provides a positive impression of what it’s like to buy from your dealership.
STEP 3 – PLACE A CALL TO FOLLOW-UP
The follow-up call to a shopper is one of the most powerful tools for building relationships and generating appointments. For many dealerships, however, the value of this call is not properly conveyed to sales agents. It’s easy to forget, procrastinate or claim ignorance.
TIPS FOR PLACING A FOLLOW-UP CALL
1. Follow-up phone calls should ALWAYS happen in these situations:
- When you say you will. If a shopper is promised a follow-up call, it must absolutely happen.
- When you set a “soft appointment.” If you are unable to capture a set date/time on your appointment request, this prospect should be called to confirm their soft times, and more importantly, create a hard appointment.
- When you have an upcoming “hard appointment.” It’s great that the shopper is scheduled to come in at a certain time. Now go ahead and call a few hours prior to give a friendly reminder and get commitment.
2. Convey a sense of excitement and exclusivity to the shopper: You “can’t wait to meet them and just want to confirm a time!” They should feel honored by your proactive customer service, and this of course, increases appointments and show rates.