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Phone Skills 101 - Going from Good to Great

By Josh Wheaton

The average consumer will have completed around 14 hours of online research and have a vehicle in mind by the time they call your dealership. Even if the consumer ends up buying something different than what they had in mind, the majority are calling with an intent to purchase.

If purchasing is the next step in their car buying journey, why doesn’t every call result in increased floor traffic? The answer is poor lead conversion skills over the phone. The phone is often the first interaction a consumer has with a dealership, and effective phone handling will determine whether or not they will do business with you.

Dealership top performers are using these simple, yet highly effective phone habits to stay ahead of the game.

1. BE ENGAGING

GET & USE THE CUSTOMER'S NAME

And use it often! You’ve only got a few minutes to build a rapport on the phone. Ask for the customer’s name early in the conversation and use it throughout. These seem simple and even trivial, but they've been shown to effectively keep the consumer on the other end of the line engaged.

ASK MORE QUESTIONS

Asking for more information is this the simplest and most effective way to pinpoint your customer’s needs and build a relationship. Digging deeper shows the customer that you’re actively working towards earning their trust, and ultimately their business, right from the start.

USE ACTIVE LISTENING TECHNIQUES

The best salespeople are not the best talkers, they’re the best listeners. Asking questions, repeating back for clarity and being prepared with information and answers shows the customer that you are personalizing the experience and tailoring a solution specific to their needs.

2. BE PREPARED

SENSE OF URGENCY

As discussed above, when a customer picks up the phone and calls the dealership, they typically have already done their research. They are calling to verify information or to determine if you're going to get their business. As a result, every time you pick up the phone, you need to be prepared and focused in order to capture the opportunity on the other end of the line.

FLUENCY MATTERS

Your customers call with the expectation that they’ll be speaking to an expert who can provide the answers they need to make their buying decisions. Being prepared to answer questions on things like inventory stock, product specifications and incentives/deals will build your credibility as a trusted adviser. Your ability to meet the customer’s expectation makes a significant impact on whether or not they’ll complete their journey with you.

3. HAVE A PLAN

FOLLOW YOUR PLAN

At least 25% of a phone call is the same from one caller to the next. There's certain contact information you need to capture, there's particular information you need to convey, there are specific questions you answer over and over again, and there's a mindset you need to employ. Whether it's a script, a checklist, or some other method, have a plan that you can use on each phone call. Top performers don't just wing it. Let Applied Concepts help you develop your plan - click [HERE].

ADVANCE THE BALL

Not all phone calls will end with an appointment or a sale, but you need to make sure that you have a plan in place to move the customer farther along the sales funnel each and every time. Establish a next step that advances the ball in coordination with the customer. 

MAINTAIN CONTROL

We have to check in regularly with the customer on the phone to not only make sure we are aligned, but to also stay in control of the conversation. Think of questions like “Is that in your range?” Or “how does that sound?” These act as a temperature check of the customer but also as a way to eliminate the objections at the end of the conversation. For example, if we have previously asked the customer if the vehicle was in their price range and that the (color, options, miles etc) were acceptable, then there should be no hesitation at the end of the call for the customer to move to the next step.

In order to maintain control of the conversation you need to have a consistent plan in place that you can steer conversations towards. What questions haven't you asked yet? What information haven't you collected yet? What information haven't you conveyed yet?

HOW CAN WE HELP?

When a customer reaches out to you to they are already significantly down the path of their buying journey and you’ve got one chance to make an outstanding first impression.

Applied Concepts has been helping dealerships turn phone calls into sales for over 35 years. Please click [HERE] or reach out to info@appliedconcepts.com to learn more. 

Tags: Foundational Topics, Sales, Service