By Susan Gaytan, Director of Dealer Engagement & Training, Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions

Did you know the inbound sales call is your dealership’s hottest lead? These consumers are the closest to buying a car, yet it’s where dealerships experience most of their profit loss. That’s right. Most opportunities are lost on this call. More than 60% of these people will end up shopping elsewhere.

Today’s shoppers have more choices. On that first call, the customer is interviewing you and hoping that you will validate the online information that led them to your dealer in the first place. They are also deciding if they like you or not and if they want to do business with you. Sometimes they decide within the first few seconds! So, when it comes to inbound sales calls, all of your sales reps must have this skill set down COLD.

Inbound Phone Leads are on the Rise, but Phone Performance is Not

A survey recently released by CallSource found a significant spike in inbound phone calls to car dealerships within the last year. But, according to CallSource, one-third of dealers are missing out on 1 in 5 of these calls to competitors. The survey found that 39% of dealers reported a 5% – 10% increase in inbound phone calls and 49% reported an increase of 15% or more. In addition, the majority of dealers (89%) found that having a process for handling inbound calls is important; however, only 40% are confident they are managing incoming calls effectively.
With that in mind, this blog will help to address the 5 BIGGEST mistakes sales reps make on inbound sales calls so you can spot them, and the right processes can be put in place at your dealership to correct these mistakes.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Sales Reps Make on Inbound Sales Calls

1. A Bad First Impression

Today, the typical car shopper spends 14-16 hours online researching and comparing before ever picking up the phone to call you. Once they drum up the courage, they’ll pick up the phone. Why courage you ask? Because most people don’t like dealership salespeople!

Their defenses are way up. So, when your salesperson answers like it’s the hundredth call of the day, “Sales, Dan here,” they are not setting the tone for a great call.

Shoppers are interviewing you. They have more choices than ever which means that today, you won’t get a second chance to make a great first impression. They’ll just hang up and call the next dealership. Think about the last time you had to call a business. You most likely decided if you liked that person or not within the first few seconds. Those very first words the shopper hears should be nothing short of amazing.

2. No Control or Direction in The Conversation

When I first started taking sales calls, I wanted to provide the best customer service possible. I thought all I needed to do was sit there patiently and answer every question the customer had to the best of my ability.

I now realize that I knew way more about the process than the shopper did. And so does your staff. Sales calls should not sound like an interrogation. Your salespeople are not order takers; they are professional sales advisors. They should be advising and guiding the caller through the shopping journey.

Believe it or not, most shoppers want to be led – and they want an advisor they can trust and rely on to guide them. Even the most aggressive shoppers prefer someone who can take control of the experience and guide them through an efficient sales process. Your reps should always be prepared, script in hand if needed, knowing the right questions to ask each and every time.

3. Narrowing Down the Shopper Too Soon

Let’s face it, the new car market has evolved, and today’s shoppers may not have the luxury of snagging the exact car they want off the lot without shopping at a few dealerships first or perhaps even waiting months to receive it. Did you know that today’s shopper is willing to switch on the color, trim level, model, and even make?

People are switching more than ever today in fact more than 82% of these shoppers will end up buying something entirely different. It is the dealership’s job to convert the shopper into the showroom before they switch. In the majority of sales calls I listen to sales reps are so focused only on that single vehicle. They think they have a deal. Instead, they are narrowing down the chances of converting that shopper into a real buyer. Unless of course, you’re the one lucky dealership in town to have that car.

4. No Excitement or Enthusiasm

Your sales staff’s primary job is to APPEAL to the shopper, to attract more shoppers to come into the dealership. The best salespeople in this business know how to get excited and it’s that transfer of enthusiasm that is essential to selling successfully.

Sadly, about 60-70% of the calls I hear today have just as much excitement as the call I had with my dentist about my upcoming root canal. Buying a car is a big deal for most people and can be quite intimidating. It is the second biggest purchase that most people will make in their lifetime. It’s a sign of achievement for many working women, as well as minority families and first-time buyers. These calls should not be treated as if the salesperson is taking a food order. They need to get excited and sell the sizzle! Today, the best salespeople sell the experience of coming into the dealership. That’s the differentiator today. People will ultimately do business with people they like.

5. Ignoring the Trade Appraisal/Potential Purchase

The shopper’s trade vehicle is just as important, if not more important than the vehicle itself. It’s a big factor in the shopper’s final numbers. But more than that, shoppers are very connected to their cars. And it can be a big factor in their final decision.

The problem is that the average salesperson will not bring up the trade, due to lack of understanding, training, or perhaps because there is a fear about talking price. Getting excited about seeing the shopper’s trade in person is the smartest thing a salesperson can do. It gives the shopper a sense of unknown hope that will have them coming back to your dealership no matter where they shop around or what they end up buying.

And it doesn’t matter what their car is – low miles, high miles, frontline ready, balding tires. Get them in first and then management will decide where it goes. Whether they buy a car from your dealership or not – and you hope they do — but even if they don’t, bring customers in regardless of if they buy from your dealership.

Once the shopper steps foot into the dealership, their shopping experience goes from a logical one to an emotional one. And they just might find something they like entirely different from what they were expecting to buy.

The inbound sales call is your dealership’s hottest lead. In today’s highly competitive market, it is important to do everything possible to convert more of those calls into showroom visits. Build relationships every step of the way. Train your staff to gain a better understanding of these calls and how to increase their success. Learn how to nurture those leads from that first call through to the sale and beyond, creating loyal advocates and raving fans of your dealership.

About the Author

Susan Gaytan, Director of Dealer Engagement & Training at Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions brings over twenty years of automotive experience and dealership management expertise to her role. She is responsible for integrating training solutions and helping dealerships maximize the effectiveness of training. Susan began her experience in the auto industry at the age of 21 as a receptionist, but her Spanish skills helped her get quickly promoted to Customer Relations Manager, responsible for dealer client retention as well as dealership staff training. She then took on the duties of inventory & used car management in charge of all wholesale processes and procedures from allocation, purchase, appraisal, inspection and assigning ad price. She ended her dealership showroom career as a Certified F&I Manager. Susan is a National Certified Trainer and Facilitator of Management ByFire! and In-Dealership Events.

Author: Christine Corkran

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