Dialing for Dollars: Cold Calling Secrets

I conduct follow up training classes for salespeople that deliver less than 8 units for the month. Out of some 130 salespeople in our organization last month we had 28 that missed the mark. In previous classes I’ve conducted training on various parts of the steps to the sale, overcoming objections, and closing techniques.

This month I decided to drill down to the root of the problem with what most salespeople have when they deliver less than an acceptable number of units. Most of the time it boils down to not getting in front of enough people, and or being too reactive as opposed to proactive.

The only way I know to get in front of more people is to be more proactive in terms of prospecting activities. And for my money, the best and most economical prospecting activity is to cold call local businesses in a 10 mile radius of your store.

But let’s face it, salespeople in the car business don’t prospect (except for the few exceptions to the rule). There are 3 main reasons:

  • They really don’t have to prospect in that the dealer advertises driving traffic to the store.
  • They don’t know how to prospect by phone because nobody taught them how.
  • They don’t see the value in prospecting because they think it’s a waste of time.

However, in today’s climate of the car business with the advent of BDC departments and Internet departments, 60-70% of the people that are walking in the door have already spoken to someone at the dealership which means if a salesperson greets that customer it’s a crap shoot on whether they will get to work that walk-in or not.

Prospecting for today’s salespeople is a MUST if they plan on getting ahead and making the kind of money that justifies putting in the time and effort. The question is, “What’s the best mode of prospecting, and how is it done to maximize your time?”

As mentioned above the phone is by far the best and least expensive way to find prospects. Let’s face it, if you’re in a metropolitan area there is probably at least 200,000 people in the market for a vehicle in any given month. Your store will only see about 1,000 of those people and most salespeople will be lucky to see 30-40 of those opportunities. With a 20-30% closing ratio they will sell between 8-10 units a month.

Assuming that most salespeople only work about 3 hours a day (either in front of a customer or trying to get in front of a customer), that gives them 6 hours to prospect for business. But let’s just assume they only prospect for 3 hours by phone. They could make 50 outbound prospecting calls and if they call on local businesses in the area they will talk with 40 people (when calling businesses you could actually connect with all 50).

By talking with 40 people you’ll speak with at least 6 that are thinking about a vehicle to some degree, and if you make a tantalizing offer you’ll get at least 3 of the 6 to show and at least 1 will buy. A salesperson can literally create their own economy by doing daily prospecting by phone.

So who do you call and what do you say? The law of reciprocation says, “If I give you something first, you’ll give me something back.” In this case of prospecting I'm going to offer a chance to win a 42" Flat Screen TV with the goal of either getting an appointment, a referral or exchanging contact information to follow up with for a future appointment. The best places to call is local businesses because they aren’t on a “do not call list” and you’ll connect with just about everyone you call. The easiest way is to go to YP.com and pick a business and start calling. Here’s the call:

Ring, Ring...

Business: “Hello, this is Tammy at State Farm how can I help you.

Salesperson: “Hi Tammy, this is Scott at your friendly neighborhood Toyota dealer. The reason I’m calling is we’re giving away a free 42” flat screen TV to one of the local insurance agencies here in town and if I got you at a good time I’d like to verify your address so if and when you win we’ll know where to send your free TV to. Would that be okay?”

Business: “Sure, we could use a free TV.”

Salesperson: “I’ve got your address at 345 Peachtree Ave Atlanta Ga 30045. Is that correct?”

Business: “Yep, that’s us.”

Salesperson: “Excellent! Let me get your email address too Tammy because the drawing will be linked to an email address of the business.”

Business: “Sure. It’s tammy@business.com.”

Salesperson: “Super! By the way, what are you driving these days Tammy?”

Business: “I have a 2009 Honda Accord.

Salesperson: “Really? Which model Accord do you have?”

Business: “It’s an EX why do you ask?”

Salesperson: “We had someone come in the other day looking for a 08-09 EX Accord and we didn’t have one. Let me ask you…if we could pay you enough for the car would you consider selling it to us?”

Business: “I don’t know. Depends, how much will you give me for it?”

Salesperson: “I understand. Let me ask you this…When’s the last time you had it professionally appraised?”

Business: “I never have.”

Salesperson: “Well that’s where we need to start. We have 2 special appraisers here this week and they are paying above market value for everything. Can you come in later today or would tomorrow be better?

Business: “I could come in tomorrow after work.”

Salesperson: “Super. Let me check my schedule real quick. Hold on a second. *place the caller on hold for 3 seconds* I have an opening at 5:45 or 6:15, which works for you?”

Business: “6:15 would work.”

Salesperson: “Perfect! Do you have something to write with Tammy?”

Business: “Sure do.”

Salesperson: “Write this down…My first name is spelled S C O T T and my last name is spelled K L E I N. My direct phone number is 444-444-4444. And our appointment time again is 6:45. When you pull into the store, just send me a text and I’ll come out and greet you at your car. Fair enough?”

Business: “Sure, no problem.”

Salesperson: “In the meantime I’m going to text you some information about your free appraisal so you’ll be assured to get top dollar for your car. What’s your cell phone number?”

Business: “It’s 555-555-5555.”

Salesperson: “Awesome! Oh, write our address down as well. It’s 444 Jonesboro Road, Union City. Do you know where that is?”

Business: “Yeah, you’re right next to the highway. I know exactly where you are.”

Salesperson: “Outstanding! Do you see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to make it in tomorrow at 6:45?”

Business: “No, I’ll be there.”

Salesperson: “Terrific! Hey, before I let you go let me ask you a quick question.”

Business: “Sure. What’s that?”             

Salesperson: “We’ve got this gigantic sale going on right now and they are practically giving cars away…Other than yourself, who do you know, maybe a friend, relative, neighbor, or perhaps someone you work with that might be in the market for a new or used car or truck?”

Business: “Actually, my brother-in law is looking for a truck.”

Salesperson: “No way. Is he looking for new or used?”

Business: “I’m not really sure. You should call him and find out.”

Salesperson: “I’d be more than happy to. What’s his name and cell number?”

Business: “His name is Mark and his number is 444-449-3333.”

Salesperson: “Marvelous! I’ll make sure I let him know you gave me his number and I’m sure I’ll be able to help him out. I’ll look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 6:45. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Business: “Okay, see you then.”

I know that sounds like pie in the sky, but I’ve made calls just like that and have gotten same day appointments and referrals. You just have to make the calls and ask. There are people in your own back yard (the person on the phone happen to be right around the corner) that are in the market, but you’ll never see the majority of them unless you get proactive and going hunting for them.

The enclosed video was shot in class last Friday and pretty much proves my point. In just 2 calls, I made 2 contacts (first call was just an exchange of contact info for future follow up), and the second call resulted in a same day appointment that showed.

So the next time your salespeople complain of “not enough traffic” or “it’s dead around here” get them on the phone. Happy hunting everyone!



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