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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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A Tentative Appointment is Not an Appointment: Top Reasons to Avoid this Approach

The goal is to book an appointment converting the phone-ups and internet leads into showroom visits. That goal, though can be hindered when the mindset of the staff (BDC or Sales team) is to ‘book’ an appointment regardless of what the customer is saying.

Wherein, if the BDC or sales consultant asks at least three times and the customer still says ‘no’ and you continue to press for that ‘tentative appointment’ where the customer most likely obliges to get you off the phone. Having no intentions of coming into the store. 

P.S. Did you ask if they had a pencil handy? Next time, just text instead. 

Here are the top reasons to avoid this approach using a more realistic approach. With the goal, of course, to convert the customer into a showroom visit: 

What is the real objection? 

If the customer is not wanting to come in for a test drive having inquired online (especially for pre-owned) than there is an objection that we have to overcome. Namely, there is a reason the customer does not want to agree to an appointment. It is our job to work through these objections so that we can secure the appointment. 

The objections could be mileage, age, price, trade-in value concerns, APR, etc. Working with the customer asking A/B questions can assist in breaking down the barriers. Making the customer feel comfortable and most importantly valued. 

This cannot happen, though if the sole focus is that appointment without taking the time to build rapport with the customer. Not listening to their wants and needs. Where pushing them into an appointment is the top priority. 

Tentative is not Definitive =  Time Wasted. 

Everyone’s time is important. That said if the customer stated “I could probably/maybe come in on Tuesday” it does not mean that they are coming in. To make matters worse or in some cases awkward - let's say the manager is proactive and calls and “confirms” the “appointment.”  Where the customer states “I never said I was coming in for sure,” which now makes it that much harder to work with the customer building a rapport that breaks down the barriers. 

Had the consultant worked with the customer (handling the objections: listening to their needs) that could have been a “definite” appointment. And remember, this is not to say that you should not be asking for the appointment if the customer immediately objects. What I am offering is that when the customer does not “agree” to an appointment instead of going for a “tentative” appointment, the focus should be towards handling the objections. So that you can secure a definite appointment. 

How many tentative appointments actually show? Do you keep track of this? If not, I would review your set/show/sold rate on appointments.

It is About ‘ME’ Not ‘YOU.’ 

The competition is intense these days where customers demands are at an all-time high. The customer wants a good experience - albeit, the word “experience” is ambiguous, and can be defined uniquely by each customer, which is all the more reason to offer a streamlined approach when handling appointments avoiding the world of “tentative.” 

If the customer senses that you are pushing an appointment without answering their questions, they will back-off. It reminds me of a popular brands commercial that touts the notion of: tired of dealing with a sales consultant wanting to sell you what they want? Not what you want? Don’t be one of those guys! And while not all of this perspective is directly related to tentative appointments - it does offer the idea of why are we booking something tentative when we can book something definitive by working with the customer?

Here Are Some of the Best Ways to Handle the Situation: 

Appointments Are Not Always Booked on the First Call or Day! 

This would undoubtedly be a dream come true! I mean who would not want to book every appointment on the first call or day? One thing you have to keep in mind is that it is not the end of the world if you do not get the appointment on the first try. Some customers require more information before making the commitment to come in. 

The first call does, however, have to make a good impression on the customer! If the customer genuinely believes that you have their best interest in mind more often than not they will work with you. And once s/he feels that you answered their questions - having broken down the barrier - your chances of securing an actual appointment will increase dramatically. 

Handle the Objections with Confidence! 

Remember, as mentioned above if the customer is not in agreement to come in for an appointment then there some objections that have yet to be addressed. When the customer does not book, DO not GIVE UP. Instead, work through the objections. Here are some of the most common objections and ways to respond: 

I have Found the Vehicle (pre-owned) for a Better Price at ABC Motors

Mr. customer, I am most happy to review it with you. We do have the best price available for this unit. The one I looked up for you has 2k additional miles. This is also an FWD and as we discussed you were specifically hoping for an AWD vehicle. When are you available to come in for a test drive? 

Not saying it always happens like this, but more often than not the vehicle they are comparing us to are not one in the same. 

Why is ABC Motors Showing the Price (for new) at $1,500 Less than You?  

Mr. customer, we make every effort to show genuine pricing. Where we do not include discounts such as student and military. However, of course, if you were to be eligible for either program we will certainly take advantage of that discount. Please also note, too, that our processing fee is “X” amount less than ABC Motors. In total, we’re actually “X” less than they are. When are you available to come in for a test drive?

Honesty is key! But do not be afraid to show the differences (if there are any) regarding price! 

I Want to know the Value of my Trade-in Before I Make the Commitment. 

Mr. Customer, I understand. Let me ask you this - you want to come in and look at the vehicle before you purchase it, right? Well, we would like the same chance you have and look at the vehicle before we make a commitment. I will offer you, however, that based on the information in which you have entered it could be as much as “range.” That said, the best thing to do is have our appraisal team review the vehicle while you are on your test drive. Saving you time. When are you available to come in for a test drive?

There several other ways to handle this objection, BUT one of the best ways of doing so is being honest with the customer. Offering that we have to see the unit, in which case we would then be able to finalize an offer. 

Bottom line: 

If it is tentative, it is not definitive. And who wants to live in a world of uncertainty. How do you handle tentative appointments? Do you have great success with them? 

Join the conversation today! 

Pierre Legault

Great article Derrick. This separates the dealers with a 50% appointment show ratio and a 75%+ show rate. I would also add to this that tentative appointments like "yeah, i will drop by this weekend" is just killing your ratio. Instead: Sir, you are willing to come in this weekend? Great! Would Saturday or Sunday suit you? Saturday? Fine, Morning or Afternoon? Afternoon? This is great. I have two openings, one at 1:15 and another at 3:45. Which one would work best for you? This scenario creates a sense on urgency, importance in the mind of the customer, and therefore increases the chances of him showing up. The are of booking a true appointment will make wonders in your dealership.

Derrick Woolfson

@Pierre, thanks! And agreed. A/B options are best, and - of course - if the customer is not in agreement with an appointment that's when the objection handling comes into play. But I agree with the two appointment times. People can easily remember '45' or '15.' 

Matt Lamberth

Boom goes the dynamite! Great stuff!

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