Phone Strategy Series – Part 1
There are several ways to contact prospective customers in today’s digital world. Customers communicate with family, friends, and businesses via email, texting, telephone, and even snail mail. Despite the popularity of digital communication, there is still a lot of potential in talking to customers on the phone.
Many sales associates think that it’s virtually impossible to get customers on the telephone nowadays; even cell phones.
Truth be known, if a customer doesn’t want to talk to you it doesn’t matter what form of communication you choose, they will avoid it. In many respects, the telephone can be a great way to talk to customers because most salespeople DO avoid it as a potential communication tool which means the phone line won’t be tied up.
With all that being said, there is a right way and a wrong way to handle phone contact with prospective customers. Using the right strategy will prevent you from facing an endless line of voicemail messages that go unanswered or worse, being hung up on directly.
For the next few weeks, we’ll be focusing on using the phone to contact prospective customers and attack the most common mistakes that are made as well as provide you with a solid strategy for using this under-utilized form of communication successfully. The following five tips will help you smash your sales goals by increasing your success rate over the phone.
1. Planning the First 10 Seconds of the Call - The first 10 seconds of your phone conversation with a prospective client is the most important because this is where the customer decides if they want to actually continue the call, make an excuse to get off the phone or just hang up on you.
You should know exactly what you want to say from the very beginning of the call before you ever dial.
Don’t sound robotic or like you are reading from a script as that will put them off immediately.
Winging it can end up with too much pause or stumbling and that gives the customer the chance to get off the phone.
2. Tone it Down – No one likes to talk to the salesperson that is overly “happy” and loud. We’ve all had experiences with that salesperson that took enthusiasm to another level. And you remember how much you wanted to get away from them. Be normal. You can be pleasant, but keep yourself in check and simply introduce yourself and where you’re calling from.
This is a perfect example of an opening. “Hello Mike, This is John from XYZ Dealership, did I catch you in the middle of something?” Note that you didn’t ask if this was a good time. It’s far too easy for them to say No, this is not a good time than it is for them to process fast enough to say yes, I’m in the middle of something.
The key is to just keep it real, keep it calm, and sound pleasant without blowing their ears off. Chances are they will at least talk to you for a few minutes and that is all you need to get the conversation going.
3. Ask the Right Questions – The worst thing you can do when talking on the phone with a customer is to do all the talking. You want to get THEM talking and the best way to do that is to ask questions. Make sure that you are asking the right questions.
If you have gotten their information from the trade-in platform, you will already have a couple of pieces of information that can play a big role in the types of questions you ask; the vehicle of interest and their trade-in information.
Don’t focus TOO much on the vehicle of interest but you can ask them if they are still looking at purchasing X type of vehicle (the vehicle of interest that you received from the trade-in form) or did they have a few different ones that they were considering? You can also ask them about their trade-in and let them know that it is your goal to get them the best trade-in value possible.
This is where the trade-in range comes in handy because you have that range to work within and can even ask them some questions about their trade to determine more closely the amount they would actually receive.
The main things to remember is not to do all the talking and ask them leading questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
4. Leave Voicemails that They Will Want to Answer – Most messages from salespeople fall into two categories: Stiff, boring and uninspiring; or overly enthusiastic, annoying, and fake-sounding. You want your messages to fall into a different category altogether; one that the customer will want to answer.
Be personable and if you’ve tried to reach them a few times without success, you can even be funny by saying something like “I’ve been having a hard time getting in touch with you so I figure things have been really hectic or maybe you’re just avoiding ME. If it’s the second reason, just let me know.”
Saying this with a smile in your voice will more than likely make THEM smile and possibly break through their self-induced “fear” that many have of actually talking to a salesperson even when they have requested information. It makes you more real and down to earth to them and that can bridge that gap that will encourage them to either call you back or answer the phone the next time they see your number on caller ID.
5. Persistence and Harassment are not the same – Persistence is always a great trait to have and when it comes to getting in touch with potential customers, persistence is the key.
However…persistence and harassing your customers until they are angry are two very different things. You have to know when to call, how often to call, and when to put that customer aside for a couple of months before trying again.
On average it could take a customer as many as 7-10 calls before they get on the phone with you. That doesn’t mean you should call seven to ten times in a row or in the course of one day.
All you will have done is succeed in making them mad and then you’ve lost them. Put a couple of days between your attempts and don’t sound like a broken record when you leave a message.
You can also let them know when you will try again and make sure you stick to whatever time you give them. That may be the call that they will pick up, especially if they are sincerely looking for a vehicle. In your message, try to leave them with something that will interest them enough to want to get on the phone with you.
Customers tend to fear salespeople because of the high pressure they are afraid they will get once they are on the phone. The messages you leave can reassure them that you will not be pressuring them, especially if you tell them something that is in line with the information they are after in the first place.
Talking to prospective customers on the phone can be a great way to build a relationship with them that lasts and that results in selling them a car. Emails and texts are void of tone and emotion so allowing the customer to hear your voice, even if you are leaving them a voicemail, can make you more real to them which can break through the typical “avoid all salespeople” mentality that many customers have. Part Two of our Phone Strategy Series will focus on 10 of the most common mistakes that salespeople make when talking to customers on the phone and how to avoid them. Don’t miss it!