Selling cars isn’t what it used to be.
In years past, selling a car meant walking the lot and being prepared for potential buyers that showed up at the dealership. And while some of the parking lot prowl is still necessary, a car salesperson must have a few more skills with today’s shopper. One of these skills is working the phones effectively.
Sounds simple enough, right? Apparently not.
A study of 1,000 mobile phone calls to dealerships showed that staffers didn’t ask for the prospective customer’s contact information in 66 percent of the calls and didn’t attempt to make an appointment in 63 percent of calls, according to Marchex Inc. and reported recently in Automotive News.
In another article from SalesHQ.com, a similar survey found that 72 percent of dealers did not ask for an appointment, 35 percent did not suggest alternatives if the caller’s first vehicle of interest was sold and 24 percent of dealer voicemail systems were full or not functional, so customers were unable to leave a message.
This at a time when phone leads are outpacing Internet/email leads by a 4-1 ratio, Cobalt, a digital marketing solutions provider, reported to Automotive News based on data collected from more than 10,000 dealership and automaker websites.
Phone skills take on added significance for dealerships that use lead generators, which provide those dealership with potential buyers.
Companies like RoadLoans.com supply dealers with leads that are pre-approved for financing and are ready to buy. But it’s up to a salesperson to call and set up an appointment with the prospect to move to the next step in the sales process.
“More customers are providing their mobile numbers on the application, so you are able to reach the customer quickly and more efficiently than in the past,” says Scott Rundle, vice president of direct originations with RoadLoans.
That’s where training comes in, with more and more dealerships turning to vendors like Century Interactive and Phone Ninjas to monitor, evaluate and provide feedback on how sales staff could have handled a call better, reported Automotive News.
“If you’re doing nothing [in phone training your sales staff], you’re leaving a lot of opportunities out there,” one dealer told Automotive News.
Rundle said effective phone etiquette is the key when it comes to converting prospects into buying customers. “Having a strong effective phone etiquette opens up your opportunity to close loans … Our RoadLoans customers are thankful to be approved and are open to the opportunity to hear from our dealers, so they can drive off in the car of their dreams. [A dealer’s] positive tone and approach to our customer makes all the difference and will result in sales!”
So, whether phone calls are inbound or outbound, they matter to your business.
LaQuenda Jackson is a senior copywriter at Santander Consumer USA. She has more than 15 years of experience in the communications field, previously serving as a television anchor and reporter in the southwest region.