Should Your Sales Staff Be Answering the Phones?

It’s time to hit dealers with a very inconvenient truth. One I am sure you have heard before but maybe you weren’t quite sure how to handle it. If you are a salesperson, don’t take it personally.

Your sales team SUCKS at answering the phones.

There, I said it! Now before I go any further I should mention that there are exceptions to every rule. I have encountered people who work on the sales floor who do an exceptional job with the phones. You might be lucky and have one or two of these people on your sales team. But if you are like most dealerships I have worked in and mystery shopped in my career, your dealership is losing profits by the day over botched phone calls.

Now I wouldn’t dare make such a bold claim without TONS of justification. I also wouldn’t serve up such a huge problem for dealerships without offering up a solution that works.

By now you are probably a little rattled at what I am saying and you might even disagree. You have put your sales team through phone training, invested in them, you have communicated your expectations about how you want the phones to be handled, and you feel as though your sales people can be counted on to do things the right way. I am here to tell you that your sales people….MOST sales people ain’t cutting it on the phones.

Training your sales associates on how to handle phone calls may improve things, but I can assure you that in most cases it isn’t the best overall fix.

The long and short of the matter is that it’s all about “END GAME”. What is the desired end game for your sales people? How are dealerships nationwide set up to reward sales people? Simple. Your sales people get paid to sell cars. The “END GAME” for sales people is a customer driving away in their new vehicle. (The right answer to the question by the way for GREAT salespeople and what their end game is would be something along the lines of building relationships, getting repeat and referral business, etc. but that also isn’t on most sales people’s minds on a day to day basis the way it should be. That’s another blog and another day.)

The end game for any inbound lead that isn’t standing on your lot or showroom: internet, phone, fax, etc. should be to get them to be standing on your lot or showroom. Great dealerships are aware of this, but even the ones who realize it aren’t all taking real strides in making it happen.

So by now you are wondering, “Allright Kid Car Business, what do you propose we do if the answer isn’t training?” Quite simple really. I suggest you put someone else in charge of answering your phones!

This isn’t to punish sales people. It isn’t because your salespeople are bad. You might have bad salespeople, but this isn’t because of their phone skills. Not in this day and age. Salespeople are driven to have a one track mind. It doesn’t make them bad, it’s just what business dictates. It’s what their pay check dictates!

Sales people want to deliver a car. The person you have answering your phones should want to deliver a customer!

That’s it! That’s my secret! Salespeople are trying to sell cars. The people you have handling inbound leads should be trying to sell…are you ready?…APPOINTMENTS!

This has probably been the single, most important advice I have received in my career managing Internet Sales and setting up BDC’s. “Sell the appointment, not the car.” You have heard this before. We all know we can’t sell a car over the phone. So why do we have our sales people on the front lines trying to find out things like credit, budget, down payment, etc. and virtually talking people OUT of coming into the dealership vs. reducing stress and inviting them in? The questions are OK, but the timing is all off. You see, what you need to do is position yourself to have that conversation at the appropriate time. If you choose to do this before your client visits the showroom, chances are your client won’t visit the showroom.

BDC’s or one-person Internet Departments work best when the people staffing them are rewarded for and trained to set appointments…not try to sell cars over the phone. Your sales people for the most part are conditioned to qualify, learn about credit, discuss price and payments and even ask financial questions that probe too deep for a phone call that ends in a set appointment. Remember, all we want from the phone call is the chance to sell them on the idea that our place should be the first and last word in their car buying experience.

While your customers might think that they are shopping a price on a new car, what they are really shopping for is the person and place that they want to do business with. It isn’t hard, MOST places don’t have it figured out and will talk the customer OUT of coming in. You want your place to stand out on the phones and internet now more than ever. Especially in a time when the ability to produce traffic is what will help you dominate your competition.

My suggestion on how to address this is to start small and expand as quickly as you can. A BDC (That’s Business Development Center) can be staffed with 2 or 3 people. For most stores this is enough to effectively handle all of the inbound phone calls, e-mails, and internet requests in a professional manner and cover all of your business hours. The department will reward you with more customers standing in your showroom, more service appointments, and more revenue! Provide them with an effective system for managing leads, a variety of lead sources (you can add more as you grow), ┬átrain them on how to handle the calls and leads effectively for maximum appointments, and watch your business grow!

If you need help setting up your BDC or Internet Department, call me right away!

Privacy Isn’t The Problem!

Let’s imagine for a moment that you built a web site and that this particular web site grew and grew and grew to never before attained levels of traffic. Now imagine that the web site you invented continues to grow for the next 5 years becoming the number one site on the entire internet. You have more registered users than anyone has ever attained on any other web site. Your members can interact and share content including photos, videos, their opinions, links, etc. with many friends and acquaintances at one time in a matter of seconds. Businesses can use it to communicate with customers. Virtually everyone is using your site to connect with each other and unite with old friends. Your site revolutionizes social web applications and becomes arguably the most popular form of communication and media.

Your web site changes the entire world.

You are able to make a generate great revenue from the web site from businesses who want to advertise on it, but your users who use the site day in and day out to express themselves and benefit the most from the site continue to use the web site at no charge.

One day an associate suggests to you that you utilize the information that you have on file from your users to revolutionize online advertising. You will be able to allow businesses to target individuals who have certain interests, live in certain areas, are of a certain age, etc. and your advertisers will have the ability to serve ads only to those groups that they wish to target. Everyone will want to advertise on your web site. You will provide businesses with virtually waste-free advertising and consumers will be shown products that match their interests.

You decide to move forward with this plan, take your company public and continue to test the limits of your idea.

Your users- the people who benefit most from the service, will continue to be able to use your web site at no charge.

Some people begin to voice opposition…stating that they are going to stop using your service, that you are selling out, that you are violating people’s privacy (the same people mind you who share photos, opinions, videos, etc. by using your service), and that your web site is an evil corporation.

The same people who use your service day after day now start to badmouth and criticize you for wanting to expand and push the envelope.

How would you feel?

I am sure by now you know where I am headed with this. You know who and what I am talking about and you probably get the general sense of my viewpoint.

So why are people turning on Mark Zuckerberg? Why do people take their privacy so seriously all of a sudden now when money is involved?

Even many of the same people who post photos, videos, opinions, rant about their unhappiness, etc. are all up in arms because Mark wants to share what music they listen to with record company executives. They seem to share the sentiment that it’s about privacy, but is it?

I have my own opinion as to why and I am going to share it with you here.

The real issue here is not a matter of an individuals privacy, the issue is that our culture…our country now has a climate where we condemn successful people.

The same people that I grew up with, the same people that I worked with early on in my career, even many of the people that I run into at the gym and converse with want to talk about a “balanced life” and talk in terms of average thinking, average possibilities, and average outcomes.

I cringe when I hear anyone talk about having balance in their life. Why? Because I know that I am listening to someone who is too afraid or too lazy to commit themselves to do exceptional things. On top of that, this person is also trying to convince me that I am doing too much and that I should try to find balance and box myself in to average thinking as well. Beware of these people.

This same thinking is the reason that people want to make a villain out of a guy like Mark Zuckerberg. It’s acceptable for him to have Facebook, to make a living off of it to a “reasonable” extent, for us all of society to use it day in and day out to change the quality of life that we have, etc. as long as Mark doesn’t have too much success at our expense, right? STOP! This guy revolutionized media and communications and he should be UNREASONABLY WEALTHY for his accomplishments. What’s more? He should also be put up as a positive role model to us,to our friends and to our children of what a person can accomplish when they make a large contribution to their sector. Instead you start to see people become critical of Mark. The same people who are using his product (yes it is a PRODUCT) to express their dissatisfaction with Mark’s decisions are now posting about how they might cancel their account, or how wrong it is of Mark to sell profile data to businesses, etc. as if they own Facebook or are entitled to use it for free without it’s creators benefiting in any fashion.

The last time I checked my cell phone wasn’t free. My cable bill isn’t free. My internet connection isn’t free. Someone explain to me why Facebook is required to be free? Mind you that it is and will always be for the foreseeable future, but to say that Mark can’t leverage on his product to produce wealth is absurd.

The issue isn’t privacy, people. Throw that out the window. If you want privacy, don’t post your opinions, photos, videos, and rants online. I’m not about to stop, because I’m not out to live a private life. The internet isn’t the place for privacy. Then again neither is the DMV, your cell phone provider, your cable provider, your credit card companies, your bank or any of the other places who sell your information to each other for the purpose of creating revenue.

In 2012 your issue isn’t privacy, it’s anonymity. It’s obscurity. It’s average thinking getting you average results. It’s letting others who have already given up on their passions convince you that you should accept average. While you want to protect yourself, privacy shouldn’t be your focus…being well known at what you do should be.

I intend to leverage on all social media to share with friends, acquaintances, people from my past, professionals, etc. You should consider it an opportunity to be known as opposed to an invasion of your privacy.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read and happy selling!

Should Your Sales Staff Be Answering the Phones?

It’s time to hit dealers with a very inconvenient truth. One I am sure you have heard before but maybe you weren’t quite sure how to handle it. If you are a salesperson, don’t take it personally.

Your sales team SUCKS at answering the phones.

There, I said it! Now before I go any further I should mention that there are exceptions to every rule. I have encountered guys and gals who work on the sales floor who do an exceptional job with the phones. You might be lucky and have one or two of these folks on your sales team. But if you are like most dealerships I have worked in and mystery shopped in my career, your dealership is losing profits by the day over botched phone calls.

Now I wouldn’t dare make such a bold claim without TONS of justification. I also wouldn’t serve up such a huge problem for dealerships without offering up a solution that works.

By now you are probably a little rattled at what I am saying and you might even disagree. You have put your sales team through phone training, invested in them, you have communicated your expectations about how you want the phones to be handled, and you feel as though your sales people can be counted on to do things the right way. I am here to tell you that your sales people….MOST sales people ain’t cutting it on the phones.

Training your sales associates on how to handle phone calls may improve things, but I can assure you that in most cases it isn’t the best overall fix.

The long and short of the matter is that it’s all about “END GAME”. What is the desired end game for your sales people? How are dealerships nationwide set up to reward sales people? Simple. Your sales people get paid to sell cars. The “END GAME” for sales people is a customer driving away in their new vehicle. (The right answer to the question by the way for GREAT salespeople and what their end game is would be something along the lines of building relationships, getting repeat and referral business, etc. but that also isn’t on most sales people’s minds on a day to day basis the way it should be. That’s another blog and another day.)

The end game for any inbound lead that isn’t standing on your lot or showroom: internet, phone, fax, etc. should be to get them to be standing on your lot or showroom. Great dealerships are aware of this, but even the ones who realize it aren’t all taking real strides in making it happen.

So by now you are wondering, “Allright Kid Car Business, what do you propose we do if the answer isn’t training?” Quite simple really. I suggest you put someone else in charge of answering your phones!

This isn’t to punish sales people. It isn’t because your salespeople are bad. You might have bad salespeople, but it ain’t because of their phone skills. Not in 2012. Salespeople are driven to have a one track mind. It doesn’t make them bad, it’s just what business dictates.

Sales people want to deliver a car. The person you have answering your phones should want to deliver a customer!

That’s it! That’s my secret! Salespeople are trying to sell cars. The people you have handling inbound leads should be trying to sell…are you ready?…APPOINTMENTS!

This has probably been the single, most important advice I have received in my career managing Internet Sales and setting up BDC’s. “Sell the appointment, not the car.” You have heard this before. We all know we can’t sell a car over the phone. So why do we have our sales people on the front lines trying to find out things like credit, budget, down payment, etc. and virtually talking people OUT of coming into the dealership vs. reducing stress and inviting them in? The questions are OK, but the timing is all off. You see, what you need to do is position yourself to have that conversation at the appropriate time. If you choose to do this before your client visits the showroom, chances are your client won’t visit the showroom.

BDC’s or one-person Internet Departments work best when the people staffing them are rewarded for and trained to set appointments…not try to sell cars over the phone. Your sales people for the most part are conditioned to qualify, learn about credit, discuss price and payments and even ask financial questions that probe too deep for a phone call that ends in a set appointment. Remember, all we want from the phone call is the chance to sell them on the idea that our place should be the first and last word in their car buying experience.

While your customers might think that they are shopping a price on a new car, what they are really shopping for is the person and place that they want to do business with. It isn’t hard, MOST places don’t have it figured out and will talk the customer OUT of coming in. You want your place to stand out on the phones and internet now more than ever. Especially in a time when the ability to produce traffic is what will help you dominate your competition.

My suggestion on how to address this is to start small and expand as quickly as you can. A BDC (That’s Business Development Center) can be staffed with 2 or 3 people. For most stores this is enough to effectively handle all of the inbound phone calls, e-mails, and internet requests in a professional manner and cover all of your business hours. The department will reward you with more customers standing in your showroom, more service appointments, and more revenue! Provide them with an effective system for managing leads, a variety of lead sources (you can add more as you grow), train them on how to handle the calls and leads effectively for maximum appointments, and watch your business grow!

If you need help setting up your BDC or Internet Department, call me right away!

Welcome to Andy Carr Online!

Thank’s so much for visiting my new site and taking a look around while I get up and running. My goal here is to share my experiences in automotive sales, social media, and digital marketing and to help other dealerships leverage on those experiences.

I hope to share my thoughts on various aspects of digital marketing for dealerships and make information available that is helpful, insightful, and motivational.

Salespeople, Internet Managers, BDC folks, and General Managers in automitive: get ready to be inspired!