Far and away the longest standing and ongoing concern I have encountered in the decades of “Training from the Trenches,” are the way we (our industry), handle (or don’t) the indispensable, yet quickly changing, still dreaded…phones! I am referring to both inbound and outbound calls and I am not even touching the service, parts or collision side of the profit leaks. The way we coach all into real time, practical, commonality based rapport techniques that are based on skills, not just scripts, are our inherent strength on the phone. Real rapport based long term vision sales requires notations of things and is what separates well from great.
Automotive sales, BDC or Internet departments all must do significant preparation each day before warming up, so to never be unprepared on your first live “hot” call or lead of the day. Incorporate some of the timeless and next gen professional new and adjusted daily protocol and/or priorities in your preparation for each day. These include:
- Stress management: Don’t pretend you don’t have real life stress, manage it before work!
- Warm up: Roleplaying over the phone with real types of calls with co-workers/partners.
- Make the 12-foot rule a habit and touch the desk/service with a smile and a hello. Most of us forget that 63% of communication is body language. Smiling is a key factor in the quality of a call. It also entices reciprocity, when you smile at folks sitting and waiting for something and pass by saying hello with a smile, they smile back.
- Conduct an online Virtual Inventory Walk, as well as the timeless lot walk or drive. Know what the people calling or logging in are already reviewing and learn how to prepare well enough to set an appointment with a specific time without calling them back. Our surveys show you lose significant credibility when unprepared. This is all a byproduct of the myth that there is any down time in the car business. There is ample work to be done in preparation for ups of any kind, all the time!
- Know the three main personality types, the predominant tone, and speech patterns of people. Notate any and all “humanizing” or quality conversation starters, such as their child’s name or why they can’t come tonight. Know that every time someone shares real life situations with you it is an opportunity to become more like them, which is commonality based rapport. Know the difference between weak and strong pacing such as “I understand” vs. “I understand, I have kids too! My son is now 15, how about yours?” This is a much stronger pace that will be mastered when, not if, you commit to the why based selling and coaching system. Remain consistent and earn ROR (Return on Rapport) as we have discussed previously.
- Know your own ads, your competitors’ ads, and their fine print. Master the non-bashing, “what we don’t do here is…” regarding their fine print. We do countless quality control calls per month and so many people in various markets are afraid of ad cars and literally will talk someone out of it by saying “you do realize that is a base model with no a/c, etc.,” rather than validating the fact they spotted a real new car with a full warranty for under blank amount!
- The reason stores have BDCs, hybrid BDCs, outsourced BDCs and self serving (be it the “BDC” team) is because the ultimate challenge is to truly own the phone! These teams need to become focused solely on rapport building (so the customer doesn’t just schedule an appointment to get off the phone). Remain appointment driven, sell the show, and when they arrive, sell the vehicle.
- Master techniques that double call backs, prevent excuses and get past gatekeepers with techniques such as the “saving face technique.”
- Mystery shop your competition like watching game tape. Know how they respond, create differentiation by not being lumped into the stereo type they are hearing and respond more effectively by a) listening skills, b) avoid car talk and c) learn the difference of being a consultant to someone in buying the right thing and not paying too much, versus selling people. People hate to be sold.
- Have a library of effective curiosity based voicemails, “accurate, authorized, how you’d prefer I proceed when, not if you call me back.” Always leave the message on the second dial if you are using the “back to back dialing” techniques we do. Make sure you state you will repeat your number on the voicemail. It conditions them to get a pen, and with your tone, and wording of their sensitive material, you will get 10 times the call backs. Basically with canned emails, scripted calls, or battles over price when we don’t even realize, WE evoked the “fight or flight” within the customer.
Now the trade has and will remain timeless. Know what makes your customers tick. Communicate with SMS and MMS, use confirmation numbers and appointment tags, but remember that not one trick of the trade will stop the bleeding more than the essential understanding that people will forget more than half of what we say (don’t sound like the rest), but they will never forget how we made them feel. Good selling my friends. Remember, we have got to be quicker to the chats and faster to know what the customers see online when they call rather than any other car dealership. It impresses them most.