Incoming Phone Calls - Don't forget how important these are!

Nick Lozovsky
Question: Are your incoming sales calls being answered by someone who uses a phone script for each and every call? Customers who pick up the phone and call a dealership tend to be towards the end of the buying cycle, meaning they are closer to buying than many of your other lead sources. People who pick up the phone and call you directly also tend to me much more educated because they are often in front of a computer (easy access to data) and have more choices of other dealers to call. The majority of incoming sales calls usually deal with 2 things: Price (can you beat a price or what is your best price) Availability (Do you have a specific vehicle in stock) We all know that these calls need to be handled perfectly and if they are not, than you lose a valuable opportunity. Unfortunately, most salespeople just “wing it” when they answer the phone. Why is this “just wing it” approach so common in our industry? When you call Gieco for an insurance quote, the customer service rep doesn’t “wing it”. They have a process in place that uses scripts, so that everyone who calls is asked the same questions and treated the same way. Salespeople need processes. Salespeople need to be trained on what to say and how to properly handle an incoming sales call. Salespeople need to have scripts in front of them so that when they answer the phone they know exactly what to say. Management needs to make sure that the script is being used on every call. Dealers spend a large amount of time and money trying to get the phone to ring. We challenge every dealer to make sure you have right processes in place that allow you make the most of every opportunity. With all the excitement about new technological innovations that will help us sell more cars, let’s not forget about the phone!
Jim Bell
Totally agree with you Nick. We actually did a phone training in the last 2 weeks at our dealership. We gave all of the salesmen scripts to go by. One thing that I will add to your comments is that the customer has all of the information on the internet available to them. They have the carfax, service history, accident history and really they may be just calling to see if the vehicle is available. Here is the breakdown of our calls last month. We had 147 incoming sales calls. We set 49 appointments of which 38 showed and we sold 23 of the 38 appointments shown. The salesman has a much better chance of selling the vehicle when they get to the dealership than over the phone. The number one goal is to set the appointment. Here is the script that we are using and has been very effective since putting it in place in the middle of the month. 1. It’s a wonderful day at Don Ayres, this is ______, how may I help you today? 2. (Specific vehicle) I’ll be happy to check on that for you. How familiar are you with the (model)? (Advertised vehicle) I’ll be happy to check on that for you. Where did you see the vehicle at? Did it list the price for you? 3. Is it specifically that vehicle you’re interested in, or are you just looking for the nicest one you can find in a certain price range? 4. Okay, while I’m checking on that one, I’ll also check on the others we have in that style and price range. It will take about 5-10 minutes. a. Are you calling from home or work? And that number is? b. How do I spell your last name? And your first name is? If you could just wait a moment, I may be able to find out right now, okay? 5. I do have some great news for you! Not only do we have that one, we must have the availability of ___ or ___ in the style and price range you’re looking for! What’s a good time to come in and drive one, this afternoon, this evening, or would sometime tomorrow be better for you? How about ___time___? 6. Do you have a pen and paper handy? 7. Again, my name is ______, and I will plan on see you at _______. Do you need directions to the dealership? I do work by appointment only, but that’s to your benefit so I’ll have plenty of time to answer your questions when you get here. So, if you find you’re running late or early, please call me and I’ll be happy to move my schedule around for you, okay? Thanks-I’ll look forward to seeing you then. Our appointments skyrocketed when we put this in place. I am looking forward to a great month. 40% of our total sales were a result of phone calls, i-leads, and email campaigns so it does all go back to how the salepeople are handling their phone calls. I did just write a blog about this the other day.
Bart Wilson
Funny. I've worked in a few dealerships and each had their own script, but the same rules apply. Establish control with close-ended questions, usually choices, open the search so that the guest feels there are more than one to drive down and look at, set the appointment, then exchange important information. Just like the sales process for customers on the lot the principles don't change. The more these steps are monitored and trained on the better the results.
Gary Mitchell
Nick, Great post! Very interesting blog because using a consistent message (script) is so critical professionalism and effectiveness. A week or so ago I posted a comment (see URL below) titles “Will Someone Please Answer the Phone?” with a similar concept, but with a focus on just answering the phone in a timely manner. What we are seeing is that dealers have had to scale back their employees so much that they do not have the staff available to answer the phones during peak periods because they are with a customer or on the phone with one. Both are important, but if you had to choose which one do you take? Of course both…but in a lot of cases during peak periods not very possible. Because of this, we are seeing more and more dealers researching call centers that can provide professional services to “backstop” their inbound calling processes to ensure that all calls are handled promptly, whether it is a sales or service appointment setting call, request for information, or transfer to a particular employee. These companies can use the dealerships existing scripts as well as adhere to proper protocols while handling these calls that would have been either missed or sent to voicemail. Callers get handled and dealerships plugs a gap in their processes.

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