Automotive Phone Training – Traditional vs. Progressive

When is the last time your dealership had a progressive training solution?

Is your dealership handling phone calls just like the “guy” down the street?

For generations automotive professionals have been provided automotive phone training with traditional ways of handling phone calls.  These traditional methods result in sales people handling objections the using the same terminology.  Imagine spending $10,000 on a campaign (mailer, email blast, newspaper, special finance, etc.) and it fails because the call handlers (BDC, Sales People) in the dealership are not properly prepared.  In fact they get thrown in to handle the calls but since they are not trained and the campaign is not discussed they continue to practice telling the customer that “price is the easiest part of my job” or “we deal with over 20 different banks so we can get you approved”.  If they are at least properly trained to ask for the appointment they say, “when can you come in, now or later today?”

Now a customer calls in on a mail piece and has common sense questions about how much money down is needed to get this advertised lease price it just so happens that untrained or traditionally trained sales professionals try to avoid the question instead of just telling the customer what it is.  If the customer in return asks about what it would be with $0 down typically there it becomes an objection that cannot be handled because traditional training teaches automotive professionals to avoid price.  Some of the most successful dealerships respect and understand the fact that consumers can get information and pricing everywhere which means that they empower their people to give proper information while engaging the prospect in order to generate the appointment.  Consumers will gladly do business with straightforward dealers that make the car shopping process simpler.  When it is said, “if we give information they will just call someone else” it is true statement but the fact is they will still call someone else and shop.  The dealer that wins will sometimes be the one who offers the best deal and sometimes the dealer that handles objections better or gives proper information will win the opportunity.

The bottom line is that it is all about building trust through transparency.  It is interesting to see how many people in dealerships always say how “we have over 400 cars stock so price is never an issue” or “we are the biggest selling dealer in the area and we did not get there by being the most expensive”.  The best way to really understand this common problem is to spend one hour mystery shopping various dealers across one market and see how many of them are making the same mistakes or even saying similar things.  After analyzing many phone calls all over the country we at Dealer eTraining believe that call handlers need to have numerous ways to overcome objections and be trained in understanding what the customer is looking for.  The most important aspect of being prepared for a campaign or any situation is communication and training.

Think about it when making a huge investment in something the natural thing is to prepare for the outcome that it brings.  So why are we sending mailers and running newspaper ads without preparing our people to handle those calls? Why do BDC reps come into work on a Friday morning, take a phone up and have no clue what the customer is talking about? What if that campaign is unsuccessful and the one mishandled call was the only opportunity that came in through the phone?  I encourage all dealers and general managers to improve communication and training efforts in the dealership so that profit leaks can be better monitored.

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Tags: automotive bdc, automotive internet sales, automotive phone skills training, automotive phone training, bdc training, dealer etraining, stan sher

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Comment by Jason Mickelson on December 3, 2013 at 11:03pm

In the office I use the word relate.  The phone is deeper than just asking questions.  No one likes twenty questions, but everyone enjoys a great conversation.  Stagger your questions.  We call them segues.  The prospect won't even know what happened. 

Have you tried asking more than one question at a time to allow the prospect to answer the one they like best?  Typically they answer the second one, but someone they surprise you. This keeps the conversation flowing and the prospect talking.  

Comment by Stan Sher on December 3, 2013 at 9:52pm

Thanks Chris.  I learned all the way from 4 years when I was building the BDC that I was running that there has to be a tool box with a variety of ways to say things.  For example, at Dealer eTraining while we do train traditional word tracks (like anyone else) we also teach progressive methods that include asking a question more then one way.  We teach three different ways of asking for the appointment, three ways for asking for an email address, three ways for asking for a phone number, how to effectively answer questions directly with proper information to further engage the customer and even answer the phone saying "How can I assist you?" or even "How may I serve you?" instead of saying "How can I help you?".  We believe in being human and not a robot on the phone.

Comment by Chris Pyle on December 3, 2013 at 10:53am

Great article Stan. With the old way of "Just get the appointment" phone handling, customers would get off the phone feeling like they just talked to a politician. We would purposely and carefully not answer a single question in our attempts to get an appointment and thought a 50% appointment show ratio was doing a good job...I'm surprised that many people showed up looking back. The best proof of this for me recently has been with our live Chat leads. When leads that are handled in fun, informative and fully transparent manor, they convert and close at a very high %. When certain sales people try the old school method, the chat is simply ended. Sooner or later this has to catch on...right? 

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