Category Archives: Business Development Center (BDC)

When Is The Time To Start A BDC?

The Paradigm Shift To Accountability: When Is The Time To Start A BDC?

I’m told that in the early 70’s, finance offices were not in every dealership. They were just beginning to pop up here and there. Today, almost every dealership has a finance department that is responsible for their own production separate from the sales department. A similar thing started happening a few years ago with Internet departments. Now many dealerships have Internet departments separate from the traditional sales staff. Today, business development centers (BDCs) are in the same evolutionary realm. At what point should your dealership make that paradigm shift? That depends on your motivation.

Several factors motivate dealers to implement a BDC. Some of those factors include their customer base, sales lead volume, advertising dollars spent and basic trust. Any one of these factors by itself may be enough to drive you to invest in a BDC, but when you combine the force of the four factors, it usually becomes a question of why haven’t you already implemented a BDC, not a question of should you implement in a BDC.

Motivator #1 – Effectively Mine Current Customer Base
It’s no secret that it is easier to retain a customer than to acquire a new one, but does your dealership have a systematic process of staying in contact with your customer database? More importantly, does your dealership have a set procedure for contacting specific demographics within your customer database? For example, if Chevrolet releases a new incentive on Tahoes, do you have a process to facilitate contact with Tahoe owners whose vehicles are two or more years old? How about Trailblazer owners that might want to upgrade? Maybe even customers who have purchased used Explorers in the last three years are ready to purchase again.

If you have a BDC in place, you can contact all of these customers to set appointments for your sales staff without any additional advertising expense. In fact, letters expressing potential equity in their vehicles can develop an extensive response with appointments that show and sell.

What about customer follow up? Are you one of only a handful of dealers who can honestly claim their sales staff does follow-up effectively? Only about 10 percent of salespeople are outstanding at customer follow-up, yet most dealerships relegate customer follow-up to the sales person. A BDC can conduct the proper follow-up to keep your dealership at the forefront of every customer’s mind, while asking for referrals. This keeps your sales staff doing exactly what you hired them for – selling vehicles.

Motivator #2 – Effectively Handle Sales Lead Volume
I hear many dealers complain about lead volume. I also hear trainers explain to dealers that it is not about the volume of leads received, but what you do with each lead. How are your leads handled? Is every lead handled professionally with the intent to set an appointment? Dealer principals I speak with would like to say that every lead gets the same attention, but in reality, few dealers can say that truthfully. The attention a lead receives is generally proportionate to the need and desire of the individual handling the lead on that specific day.

A BDC ensures that every lead, regardless of its source, will receive the same level of non-prejudicial professionalism. Each lead is contacted with a single goal in mind: set an appointment for the customer to come to the dealership.

Motivator #3 – Effectively Spend Advertising Dollars
The more money you spend on advertising each month the more accountability you need. Incoming call sourcing is just one piece of ad dollar accountability. Incoming call tracking allows you to know how you generate incoming call activity, not what you do with that activity. A BDC makes outgoing calls on your behalf and tracks not just the lead source, but appointments kept and ultimately sales.

Knowing how you are generating sales from ad dollars spent and the cost of those sales will allow you to quickly adjust your expenditures. For example, in the chart below, Ad Source 2 had a very high percentage of shows to leads; however, a very small percentage of those shows converted to sales, which makes it the second highest in ad dollars spent per sale. With this type of information, you can make informed decisions on where to spend your advertising dollars.

Ad Source Analysis

Dollars Spent Total Leads Cost per Lead Total Shows Units Sold Total Gross Ad $ Per Sale
Ad Source 1 $5,000 500 $10.00 200 18 $36,577 $278
Ad Source 2 $2,500 40 $62.50 25 3 $8,027 $833
Ad Source 3 $2,000 100 $20.00 15 3 $12,020 $667
Ad Source 4 $800 80 $10.00 40 7 $22,094 $114
Ad Source 5 $5,000 20 $250.00 10 4 $2,880 $1,250
$15,300 35 $81,598 $437

Motivator #4 – Trust
While the above factors all are important, the main determining factor in deciding if you need a BDC is trust in your salespeople. Do you honestly believe that your salespeople will call every lead and follow-up with every customer regardless of how they feel the chances of a sale may be? A BDC does what your sales staff won’t or can’t do – follow up calls, referral seeking, owner base mining and keeping your dealership in the forefront of every customers mind.

How many of these motivators do you need to motivate you to increase profits? A successful BDC can grow with your dealership. It is possible to start small with one person and grow. What it takes is a foundation of commitment, processes and skills—not scripts.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Glynn Rodean
President & CEO
New Vision Sales, Inc.
GRodean@AutoDealerMonthly.com

Why Traditional BDCs Don’t Work

WHY TRADITIONAL BDCs DONT WORK and discover what your competitors are doing about it

Remember the old fashioned BDCs (Business Development Centers) or phone rooms . . . rather, Business Detention Centers or so dubbed by the sales consultants sentenced to that room!

Learn what todays savvy dealerships are doing to Find, Serve and Keep their customers by Finding, Serving & Keeping their employees. It takes a distinct set of skills & personality traits to handle in-bound & out-bound sales calls, internet leads and floor traffic therefore Relationship Management Centers (RMCs) are matching employee talents for successfully handling Floor, Internet and Telephone leads (what we call getting F.I.T.). The results are producing 300% to 400% improvement in sales volume plus long-term retention increases.

Highly successful Business Development Centers today are focusing more on Relationship Management and they have the tools and know how to drive it. The latest sophisticated, integrated technology allows for entering data once, leveraging it often across business units. Learn what it takes to operate a Relationship Management Center and compare your ROI with those who enjoy doing this RMC work vs. loathe it.

We know that true customer retention is determined by how you interact and communicate with customers after the initial point of contact, yet the primary responsibility in most dealerships has been laid at the feet of the salesperson. However, we have long realized that the same set of skills that make salespeople successful are clearly not the same set that drives the ultimate in customer care. It is becoming more evident that building long-term relationships will be the key to dealership success in the future. We used to think that the key to customer retention was based upon the customer handling experience during the initial sale – then the industry focus changed to the quality of the vehicle service experience. Now we know that more than ever, it depends not only on those interactions but also upon the quality of the contacts and human touch between repurchase experiences.

Some of the most successful dealers have learned how to bridge the gap between customer expectations and salesperson responsibilities using an integrated approach that combines people, processes, skills and technology to deliver superior customer service with consistency. The central feature of this approach is the integrated Relationship Management Center (RMC). The RMC is far more than simply a phone room or internet leads process. By integrating several key customer contact and retention processes into a single focused operation, dealers have been able to dramatically improve the quality of the customers experience and do so with accuracy, measurements and accountability for results.

Learn how the expectations of customers will require different skills and integrated processes from our employees and managers. Customer focused processes will continue to change automotive retailing, moving from selling to partnering with customers for long term productive relationships, which will provide your dealership an accelerated competitive advantage. Organized with a customer centric structure, synchronized with defined and documented processes, driven by integrated reward systems and propelled by integrated technology the RMC will allow for successful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) development to FIND, SERVE AND KEEP customers by better matching (FINDING), training (SERVING) and retaining (KEEPING) employees.

Goals and Objectives

[list:2r7wlwxl]1. How to implement the seven steps necessary in developing the Relationship Management Center concept

2. Determine the appropriate timing for implementation of this concept into your dealership

3. Identify where your dealership fits on a continuum of readiness for the innovative RMC

4. Establish guidelines for developing the appropriate position guides for key roles within the novel RMC.

5. Preview best of class reward systems to motivate and retain top performers within the RMC.

6. Explore the integration of process and technology to quickly expand your ROI

7. Learn from actual success stories ranging from mom & pop stores to mega dealer groups[/list:u:2r7wlwxl]
As you move into the next phase of managing customer relationships, we invite you to explore the question: Are You Ready for the integrated processes of an RMC Relationship Management Center.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Dr. John

What is a Business Development Center?

A BDC acts as the nerve center within a dealership, handling customer contact. The BDC becomes the ‘touchstone" for customers and potential customers of the dealership. A BDC may handle phone’s, email’s and letter’s.

The BDC also tracks the metrics involved in customer contact and follow- up with customers. Unlike internet sales departments, BDCs today manage a wider range of customer interactions, including unsold showroom traffic, lease maturity, new model introductions and service reminders. They also work with owners nearing time for repurchase or help promote dealer events.

How are BDCs Used?

BDC staff is trained in phone and email skills. Call scripts and email templates provide for consistent, controlled customer interactions. In addition to prospects and appointments, BDC staff can manage other customer interactions:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Unsold showroom traffic
– New model introductions and dealer events
– Customers nearing time for repurchase
– Customer satisfaction
– Service reminders [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
BDCs help you to:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Consistently and effectively manage sales processes
– Reach sales and marketing objectives
– Manage prospects
– Drive profitability and retain customers
– Capture data to improve processes [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
BDCs are not a one-sizefits-all solution. There are many factors to consider. Decisions must be evaluated based on your store’s

[list:1xhum3c2]- Culture
– Process
– People
– Sales goals
– Available capital[/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Weigh the Pros and Cons

Pros:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Staff has the skills to get the appointment
– Performance is highly monitored
– Longer customer communication
– Can reduce the number of sales associates [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Cons:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Must invest capital to get started
– Need to hire trained associates with a new skill set
– Must create scripts/templates, establish “steps to a call”
– Must have long-term commitment [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Establish BDC Objectives

Typical objectives include:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Gather customer information
– Schedule and keep appointments
– Increase store traffic and sales
– Manage prospects
– Maintain customer relationships
– Increase customer satisfaction
– Appointments
– UST
– Email requests
– Inbound calls
– CSI
– Will they get paid?
– Increases shows
– Sales must keep good notes
– How will they be dispersed?
– What are your hours?
– Should they send follow-up letters too?
– Should they send an email reminder too?
– Sold/not delivered?
– Are there templates?
– Is product knowledge required?
– Evaluate what projects a BDC would manage
– Determine BDC Scope [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Consider Upfront Investment

[list:1xhum3c2]- Workspace for BDC
– Office for BDC manager
– Computers and highspeed internet access
– CRM system
– Telephones
– Headsets
– Monitoring equipment
– Toll-free numbers
– Automatic call distribution system [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Define BDC “Must Haves”

Sales management must:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Establish an operational budget
– Provide capital for network and store infrastructure
– Be committed to the BDC structure for at least 1 year
– Write scripts/set “steps to a call”
– Meet weekly with BDC and sales managers
– Create a process-oriented sales department that will track all prospects
– Establish Good BDC Communication
– Include BDC manager in weekly manager meetings
– Invite BDC manager or associates to attend weekly/daily sales meetings
– Keep BDC team informed on current incentives
– Determine BDC Staffing Needs[/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Monthly sales BDC associates

[list:1xhum3c2]- Up to 50 cars 1-2
– 51-100 cars 2-3
– 101-150 cars 3-5
– 151+ 5+ [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
BDC Staffing: What People Will You Need?

The BDC manager role:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Manages BDC operations
– Hires, motivates and develops BDC personnel
– Maintains open interdepartmental communications [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Recommended skills:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Strong communication and interpersonal skills
– Leadership
– Automotive knowledge
– Problem solving abilities
– Call center management experience [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
BDC Staffing: What People Will You Need?

BDC associate role:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Manages inbound calls and internet prospects
– Provides general information to car buyers while scheduling customer appointments
– Manages outbound follow-up calls and emails [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Recommended skills:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Sales-focused and goal-oriented
– Good phone voice and phone skills
– Ability to quickly learn scripts, product information
– Telemarketing, sales or performing arts background
– Attention to detail and good follow-through [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
BDC Staffing: Set the Pay Plan

Start with your total compensation in mind. Managers and associates are compensated based on:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Salary
– Per appointment
– Per sale
– Customer satisfaction[/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Also take into account:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Monthly incentives
– Minimum requirements [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
BDC Staffing: Provide Training

[list:1xhum3c2]- Basic phone skills
– Scripts/“steps to a call”
– Personalizing templates
– Address prospect’s questions and concerns
– Overcoming objections
– Price requests
– Trade-in values
– Product knowledge [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Evaluate Your BDC Metrics

[list:1xhum3c2]- Leads received vs. appointments made
– Appointments made vs. appointments kept
– Leads purchased vs. vehicles sold
– Lead source
– Number and percentage of sales generated from the BDC
– Average gross on BDC-generated sales vs. showroom team
– Customer satisfaction
– Calls per day [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Are You Getting the Most Out of Your BDC?

Key questions to ask after implementation:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Is there really buy-in from all managers?
– Do showroom and BDC processes align?
– Are BDC associates consistently using appropriate email and phone processes? Are they consistently following up with car buyers?
– Check your pay plan: Are BDC associates motivated to deliver results?
– Check your staffing levels: Do you have too many or too few associates?[/list:u:1xhum3c2]

BDC Alternatives

Use Existing Sales Associates:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Sales associates assigned to the BDC on a preset schedule
– BDC manager reports to GM and monitors associates while working the BDC[/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Weigh the Pros and Cons

Pros:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Equal opportunity for prospects
– Requires no or few additional people
– Builds good work habits
– Easy to add other types of customer calls/emails deal for smaller stores [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Cons:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Sales associates may lack phone and email skills [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Accountability:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Difficult to track individual follow-up
– Sales associates may not feel comfortable in this environment [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Establish an Internet Department

[list:1xhum3c2]- Dedicated sales associates manage internet phone calls and emails
– Floor staff continues to manage walk-in traffic[/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Weigh the Pros and Cons

Pros:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Ideal for larger stores with additional resources to dedicate
– Best associates are dedicated
– Accountability: Easy to track follow-up for internet prospects
– Associates become experts [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
Cons:

[list:1xhum3c2]- Potential for conflict with floor sales associates
– Sales managers don’t have time to fully manage customer interactions [/list:u:1xhum3c2]
A BDC may be a good option to help your store increase sales, more effectively manage prospects

A BDC is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Should you implement a BDC, you’ll need to set objectives and manage against those goals. BDC alternatives may work better for your store, given your culture, processes and budget.

When Is The Time To Start A BDC?

The Paradigm Shift To Accountability: When Is The Time To Start A BDC?

I’m told that in the early 70’s, finance offices were not in every dealership. They were just beginning to pop up here and there. Today, almost every dealership has a finance department that is responsible for their own production separate from the sales department. A similar thing started happening a few years ago with Internet departments. Now many dealerships have Internet departments separate from the traditional sales staff. Today, business development centers (BDCs) are in the same evolutionary realm. At what point should your dealership make that paradigm shift? That depends on your motivation.

Several factors motivate dealers to implement a BDC. Some of those factors include their customer base, sales lead volume, advertising dollars spent and basic trust. Any one of these factors by itself may be enough to drive you to invest in a BDC, but when you combine the force of the four factors, it usually becomes a question of why haven’t you already implemented a BDC, not a question of should you implement in a BDC.

Motivator #1 – Effectively Mine Current Customer Base
It’s no secret that it is easier to retain a customer than to acquire a new one, but does your dealership have a systematic process of staying in contact with your customer database? More importantly, does your dealership have a set procedure for contacting specific demographics within your customer database? For example, if Chevrolet releases a new incentive on Tahoes, do you have a process to facilitate contact with Tahoe owners whose vehicles are two or more years old? How about Trailblazer owners that might want to upgrade? Maybe even customers who have purchased used Explorers in the last three years are ready to purchase again.

If you have a BDC in place, you can contact all of these customers to set appointments for your sales staff without any additional advertising expense. In fact, letters expressing potential equity in their vehicles can develop an extensive response with appointments that show and sell.

What about customer follow up? Are you one of only a handful of dealers who can honestly claim their sales staff does follow-up effectively? Only about 10 percent of salespeople are outstanding at customer follow-up, yet most dealerships relegate customer follow-up to the sales person. A BDC can conduct the proper follow-up to keep your dealership at the forefront of every customer’s mind, while asking for referrals. This keeps your sales staff doing exactly what you hired them for – selling vehicles.

Motivator #2 – Effectively Handle Sales Lead Volume
I hear many dealers complain about lead volume. I also hear trainers explain to dealers that it is not about the volume of leads received, but what you do with each lead. How are your leads handled? Is every lead handled professionally with the intent to set an appointment? Dealer principals I speak with would like to say that every lead gets the same attention, but in reality, few dealers can say that truthfully. The attention a lead receives is generally proportionate to the need and desire of the individual handling the lead on that specific day.

A BDC ensures that every lead, regardless of its source, will receive the same level of non-prejudicial professionalism. Each lead is contacted with a single goal in mind: set an appointment for the customer to come to the dealership.

Motivator #3 – Effectively Spend Advertising Dollars
The more money you spend on advertising each month the more accountability you need. Incoming call sourcing is just one piece of ad dollar accountability. Incoming call tracking allows you to know how you generate incoming call activity, not what you do with that activity. A BDC makes outgoing calls on your behalf and tracks not just the lead source, but appointments kept and ultimately sales.

Knowing how you are generating sales from ad dollars spent and the cost of those sales will allow you to quickly adjust your expenditures. For example, in the chart below, Ad Source 2 had a very high percentage of shows to leads; however, a very small percentage of those shows converted to sales, which makes it the second highest in ad dollars spent per sale. With this type of information, you can make informed decisions on where to spend your advertising dollars.

Ad Source Analysis

Dollars Spent Total Leads Cost per Lead Total Shows Units Sold Total Gross Ad $ Per Sale
Ad Source 1 $5,000 500 $10.00 200 18 $36,577 $278
Ad Source 2 $2,500 40 $62.50 25 3 $8,027 $833
Ad Source 3 $2,000 100 $20.00 15 3 $12,020 $667
Ad Source 4 $800 80 $10.00 40 7 $22,094 $114
Ad Source 5 $5,000 20 $250.00 10 4 $2,880 $1,250
$15,300 35 $81,598 $437

Motivator #4 – Trust
While the above factors all are important, the main determining factor in deciding if you need a BDC is trust in your salespeople. Do you honestly believe that your salespeople will call every lead and follow-up with every customer regardless of how they feel the chances of a sale may be? A BDC does what your sales staff won’t or can’t do – follow up calls, referral seeking, owner base mining and keeping your dealership in the forefront of every customers mind.

How many of these motivators do you need to motivate you to increase profits? A successful BDC can grow with your dealership. It is possible to start small with one person and grow. What it takes is a foundation of commitment, processes and skills—not scripts.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Glynn Rodean
President & CEO
New Vision Sales, Inc.
GRodean@AutoDealerMonthly.com

Wait for the Next “Savior” Program or Get Back to the Basics

My first experience with auto incentive buying was in August of 1986. It was my first year in the business and General Motors announced 2.9% financing for a 36-month loan. In today’s era of 0% loans being commonplace it may not seem to be that revolutionary but in the mid 80’s double digit rates were the norm. Ford and Chrysler soon matched the rates and the war was on. There was a hysteria created and I believe it changed the way consumers shop for cars.

Fast-forward to the mid 90’s and the “Slasher” era. We trained the public to wait for the next big sale. We offered trips, hot dogs, cash and everything but eternal life to get visitors to our showrooms. Once there, they negotiated away most of the gross profit, serviced their vehicles themselves or at a local discount shop, and probably were not our best ambassadors in our local communities. We did it because the pressure has always been there to sell more cars regardless of the long-term effect.

We have just experienced the phenomenon known as C.A.R.S or Cash for Clunkers. I say phenomenon because of what I repeatedly witnessed firsthand in the last few weeks. I saw people visit showrooms with a virtual $4,500 government check in their hand and they were going to spend it no matter what. It didn’t matter that the vehicle they preferred to own had been sold out for weeks. They were going to get their share of the entitlement and nobody was going to stop them. I was consulting for a Chrysler store in Orange County when someone came in shopping for a Jeep Liberty. When informed that those were no longer available they asked for a Patriot. Same story. “How about a Dodge Caliber?” Sorry. “What DO you have that qualifies?” ½ ton Ram pick-up. “What color?” They went from a vehicle that we had trouble selling 6-months ago to a full-size pick-up. Try managing a “road-to-a-sale” process for that scenario.

I believe the way to stop this insanity of “hype” advertising and selling is to do what we should have been doing all along; maintain significant contact with our owner base. All of us know that our best prospect is our loyal list of repeat customers. If best means highest gross profit potential, loyalty to our service department and a great source of referrals. “Significant” contact doesn’t just mean a subscription to our online newsletter and an annual birthday card. It means knowing more about that person, their family and their community than our competition could ever hope to know. It means helping them retain the delivery “ether” throughout the ownership experience. It means following up with them because we want to not because the factory is forcing us.

We have seen a lot of re-engineering over the years and it is time to do that now with our sales and follow-through processes. Most of us have a CRM in the store that is being under-utilized. Commit to getting to know it and use all of the tools that you said you would use when you first committed the thousands of dollars you’ve already spent to get it.

The way I see it we have two choices; wait for the next big “savior” program or get back to the basics.
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jeff Lambert
Dealer e Process
http://www.dealereprocess.com
877-551-2555

What Every BDC Needs: Skills, Not Scripts

Skills are what will separate your dealership’s business development center (BDC) from what customers consider the stereotypical car-buying experience to be, and skills in the BDC revolve around understanding, alignment and communication. Skills can make your dealership stand out from all the other stores in your market.

A BDC should make people feel comfortable and excited about the dealership at the same time. To do that, it’s imperative that a business development representative (BDR) sound sincere and speak with customers in a non-confrontational, leading manner. Dependence on scripts or rebuttals in the BDC will not do the job. Rebuttal means argument and that is exactly what scripts are preparing for. Human instinct will drive someone in an argument into a fight-or-flight mode. Oftentimes, the person in flight mode takes the road of least resistance and sets an appointment with no intention of showing up.

When you think of how your BDRs are communicating with your customers, consider the breakdown of how communication is transmitted—63 percent of communication is body language, 30 percent is tonality and only seven percent is the actual words we use. Of course, an understandable misconception is that the 63 percent attributed to body language is eliminated when talking on the phone. It is not, and there are two reasons for that. One, it is difficult to sound like you are smiling while you’re actually frowning, and two, body language and tonality go hand in hand.

Being a “type A” personality (BDRs need to be able to identify all three personalities and adjust accordingly), I am a classic example of someone with an intense, fast-paced tone. By slowing down my hand gestures, etc., my tone follows suit. Training and practicing effective communication skills empowers us to speak with common tone and wording. Commonality equals rapport, and rapport is what sells an appointment.

If you train on just scripts, you’re putting your money (and possibly your ROI) on that seven percent of communication; you’re just training on what is said. I believe in training people on why, not just what and how. Training BDRs to use impact wording and put emphasis on certain words can make a world of difference in people’s perception, which, to them, is reality. The 93 percent of communication made of body language and tonality can be utilized over the phone. How else does one sell the “sizzle” of a dealership over the phone?

Also, because scripts focus on what is said, BDRs reading from them tend to sound robotic. No one likes to be on the phone with someone who sounds as if he or she is reading from a script. It’s impersonal and insincere. Even if someone has a script down pat, it doesn’t create sincerity. While the best way to sound sincere is to be genuinely sincere, watching where and how you enunciate your words will create sincerity in your voice.

Additionally, insincerity detected in a script reader’s voice feeds into the customer’s fear or perception of the car-buying experience—one where the salesperson pushes what he or she wants the customer to buy and worries only about profit. A skillful BDR doesn’t need a script to figuratively validate price as being important. They need to identify with the customer (alignment), get a target budget range and then lead the call by asking an assumptive question like, “Aside from price, what would you say is the next most important factor—safety or performance?”

By utilizing assumptive questioning, you let customers know that you’re not avoiding or just focusing on money or price, and from their answer, you can find a point of commonality, which is very important. Establishing a point of commonality helps put the prospect at ease and makes overcoming objections later in the conversation easier for the BDR. Sincerity is a breeze in a skillful conversation.

Too many BDCs and call centers rely on scripts today. Now, I’m not saying BDRs should be just talking from memory. It is a good idea for BDRs to have a guide in front of them with important reminders. For example, the explanation guide used in my BDC reminds BDRs to obtain important contact information, including two phone numbers. Items mentioned on the guide are the law of reciprocation and the need to validate and pace to effectively lead a customer to your front door!

Also, when examining how BDRs speak on the phone, changing the word order of a sentence or two can have a positive influence on a customer. For example, instead of saying, “If for any reason your contact person is running late, I’ll give you a courtesy call. Will you do the same for me?” That may get a yes, but it does not program the subconscious to actually call. But, if you were to say, “If for any reason your contact person is running late, I’ll give you the courtesy of a call.”

See the difference? You give the caller “courtesy” in the second set of sentences instead of “a call” like in the first set. Change the subject, then ask, “If for any reason you were running late, what would you do?” It gives us another chance to thank them and more times than not, when posed with being late, someone who said what they would do versus just answering a yes/no question will actually call. A customer who calls to say they are running late is a customer who will show and likely buy.

Like other skill sets, BDC skills aren’t accomplished overnight. While there’s a learning curve and some trainees can hone their skills in a week or two, I suggest a minimum of five to 30 days of training and grooming before a BDR is working alone on the phone. My BDRs receive at least eight hours of classroom training, eight hours of role playing, shadowing, testing and retesting. We, of course, have the luxury of working in a BDC training center, but anywhere can work. Plus, once they’re skilled BDRs, they continue to have a mentor, as well as becoming a mentor to new BDRs. Mentoring breeds consistency.

Two additional mandatory aspects of my BDCs (in-house or outsourced) are mirrors in front of every computer monitor and coaches. The mirrors are to help the BDRs maintain the proper tonality; I’ve never seen anyone frowning while talking on the phone in an upbeat voice. To convey genuine sincerity, they need to have the same game face on whether the customers are on the phone or in front of them at the dealership (sales reps take notice). The team leaders (coaches) “circle the wagons” throughout the center as they listen to calls, load lips and look for BDRs needing a T.O. It’s far too easy (and far too common) for the atmosphere in a BDC or call center to get boring, and the coaching, whether weekly or monthly, helps ward off boredom, keep skills fresh and push the needle with training and incentives for greater production.

When skills are the foundation of a BDC, customers attribute keeping their appointments to the BDRs—which is a compliment to the skill-level of a BDR. Train, practice and role-play regularly to learn communication skills for better influence and persuasion. Aristotle summed it up perfectly: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Develop your BDRs’ skills and make excellence the habit of your BDC.

Remember, habit is either our best friend or worst enemy.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Written by Glynn Rodean
President & CEO
New Vision Sales, Inc.
GRodean@AutoDealerMonthly.com

The Twelve Best BDC Practices

The Twelve Best BDC Practices Every Department Should Implement

As in any department, there are best practices that can be implemented in a business development center (BDC) to help ensure success. Over the years, I’ve developed a long list of best BDC practices and here are 12 from which every BDC can benefit:.

1. Daily Team Meetings – Start each day with a team meeting to monitor all goals, update everybody’s average production recap report and warm up prior to going live on the phones. Also, have one-on-one meetings between business development representatives (BDRs) and team leaders (TLs) or business development managers (BDMs) to track production goals, and choose one skill for each BDR to practice and sharpen throughout the day.

2. Circle the Wagons
– At least one BDM or team leader should be “circling the wagons” at all times. Designate a timeframe for every BDM and/or TL to be up and walking around the office while BDRs are on te phones. BDMs and TLs should be ready to load lips or take a turnover during this “circling” time. Similar to the TO policy on the sales floor, if a phone conversation between a BDR and a customer is leading to an ineffective and unproductive call, turn it over to a manager or team leader..

3. Sales Training and Product Knowledge – To ensure your BDRs have effective communication and persuasion skills, every BDR should have both sales training and product knowledge. It’s also imperative for BDRs to believe in what they are selling. BDCs should be kept up to date on all the dealership’s marketing campaigns, so BDRs can answer customer questions during the call. Sell the appointment, and then sell the vehicle. Selling skills and persuasive communication skills are far more important than scripts. Sales training is imperative to converting any type of lead or call into an appointment (nevermind follow-up and be-back appointments).

4. Assumptive Questioning – Typically, you shouldn’t ask yes/no questions when talking to a customer. For example, instead of asking, “Can you come in tonight?” ask an assumptive question like, “Is this afternoon or evening best for you?” Then you can lead into the next best practice: setting all appointments east and west of the hour while “checking your appointment calendar.” Sell the validity of the appointment.

5. East/West Appointment Setting – When setting an appointment, always make sure appointments begin 15 minutes east or west (after or before) of the hour (i.e. at 1:45 or 2:15). It is psychologically proven that people are more likely to remember 1:45 or 2:15 appointments than those set on the hour or half-hour (i.e. at 2:00 or 2:30). Also, let customers know they’re setting an appointment with a manager in the dealership. It helps sell the appointment as a significant and valuable appointment. The result is that customers take it more seriously and hold themselves more accountable.

6. Same-Day Appointments – While setting an appointment with a customer on the same day a BDR calls them is sometimes not feasible, always try to set a same-day appointment. When it is impossible, the second best is a next-day appointment. After every appointment is set, it should be confirmed with another phone call that results in a conversation. Confirm appointments for the next morning before leaving each night. Leaving a message does not count as a confirmation call, just an attempt. Continue to show your customer how important their visit is and the urgency to act quickly, so as not to miss this special “window of opportunity.”

7. Maximize Tools – Regardless of which technological tools you have at your disposal in your BDC, use them to their fullest potential. You should be able to run various ROI reports, which should be given on a regular basis to whomever the BDC is held accountable (dealer principal, general manager, etc.).

8. Constantly Improve and Protect the Integrity of your Database
– Every time you make contact with someone, always get a second phone number. Make note of any changes in the customer’s information, and actively seek referrals and ad source/lead source for every customer. This will help management track the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and lead providers. Not only does maintaining a database add worth to the BDC, it also helps generate sales through referrals and lets the dealer know where his/her money is best being spent. They can then know where the majority of traction is coming from and where they can refocus marketing dollars for a better return.

9. Mirrors by Monitors – Every work station should have a mirror in front of it, so BDRs can watch their own body language when speaking to customers. Body language is extremely important during a phone call because it goes hand-in-hand with tonality. It’s impossible to sound as if you’re smiling when you’re frowning. Having the appropriate tonality with each customer can also help build commonality. With one customer, I may need to speed up or slow down. With another, I may need to quiet down a little bit or relax my speech in order to instantly develop commonality. When people speak alike, they have something in common. Remember, commonality equals rapport and rapport is what gets people to show up for appointments.

10. Boomerang Process – Also known as pacing and leading, the boomerang process works similar to a physical boomerang. It goes out and comes back, and you’re able to lead throughout the conversation. Whenever an objection or obstacle presents itself on a phone call, a BDC needs to have a staff filled with skilled people capable of validating what the person is saying and pacing them. Pacing means to align and agree with them. The key factor that separates the fake and the scripted is telling them why you understand and agree with them.

11. Set Scheduling – All points of contact (appointment-setting calls, follow-up calls, e-mails, leaving voicemail messages, etc.) should be scheduled. Also, BDC employees should keep their own notebooks and trackers so they always know how they’re performing and have their own personal records of everything. (This is excellent for personal accountability, for cross-referencing with the BDM and as a back up to the Internet.)

12. Contests and Rewards – Always have contests and rewards to motivate your BDC employees to perform at and above benchmark level. One contest I use is called “Take Ben Home.” I’ll put up a $100 bill on the board and offer to let the BDR or TL, with the most shows over an established standard for the day or weekend, take Ben home. They really do get motivated for that extra $100. Dinners and other rewards are very smart investments to make in your top producers.

While there may be many more BDC best practices, this is a solid list proven to help BDCs generate results. If some of these aren’t in place in your BDC, implement and monitor them to see if productivity and/or ROI increase. For more best practices or to clarify any areas of the 12 above contact me. As always, have a great month and thank you for all the feedback on last month’s article!
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Written by Glynn Rodean
President & CEO
New Vision Sales, Inc.
GRodean@AutoDealerMonthly.com

Three Conversion Tips for a Great Digital Marketing ROI

I often find dealers focus on digital marketing to drive traffic to their websites, spending a lot of money trying different things, not knowing what is and isn’t working. However, in many cases, the focus on website traffic causes dealers to miss the more important metric, and that is their site’s conversion rate.

I think many dealerships have the whole thing backwards. Why spend money to drive traffic to a site that doesn’t convert? While more site traffic doesn’t necessarily mean more leads, a higher conversion rate does. Moreover, it is easier and a lot cheaper to improve the conversion rate than to increase sustainable site traffic.

The conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors you persuade to take action. It is arguably the most important metric. It is also the most widely misunderstood, miscounted and overlooked statistic. Your analytics will mislead you because the analytics do not know the result of the conversion and if it was a true opportunity. For example, someone calls the 800 number on your home page to find out if his or her car is ready to be picked up from service. Your website provider will count that as a conversion, but is it? The answer is no.

The first question you need answered is, “What is my conversion rate?” How well does your site cause a customer to engage and follow a path to a conversion, or more specifically, a lead? Determining your true conversion rate requires good process and CRM usage to track the actual number of contacts made for the purpose of selling cars, scheduling service, and selling parts or body shop orders.

The average conversion rate seems to be in the 3-percent range. A dealership with 5,000 site visitors per month would get about 150 leads per month. The good news is small improvements make a big difference. If that same dealership can improve its conversion rate to 5 percent, the count grows to a whopping 250 leads.

Most dealers get enough traffic. They need a better conversion rate to maximize the dollars they have already spent. Some dealership websites defy the averages with conversion rates north of 10 percent! Just think about your site traffic and what a 10-percent conversion rate would do for your business and ROI. Here are three things you should work on to impact your site conversion.

1. Communication Boosters
Simple things like phone numbers, click-to-call, live chat and your address help increase site conversion. The more ways you offer visitors to engage with you, the more leads you will get. Even then, it takes correct processes to identify the true leads. If your toll-free number rings to the switchboard and is dispatched from there without monitoring, you are missing conversion-tracking opportunities. It is a challenge, I know. Nevertheless, those calls that are true opportunities need to be tracked and measured.

One common problem is visitors have a tendency to dial the top number on the site regardless of the reason for the call. Try labeling the sales number as the “Sales Hotline” or “Internet Hotline,” and label the other numbers as the “Main Switchboard” and “Parts and Service.” This usually helps reduce the calls that must be transferred by the team members answering the Sales Hotline.

2. Shopping Tools
Why do shoppers visit your site? What are they looking for? What do you want them to do on your site? Answer these questions and you will know how to set up site navigation and home page layout. The best-converting dealership sites I’ve worked with subscribe to the Steven Krug philosophy, “Don’t Make Me Think.” Krug is the authority on site usability, and if you haven’t read his book, you and everyone else who has something to do with your website should.

Dealership sites that convert in the double-digit range have ease of navigation and compelling calls to action. The home page has everything a consumer would want to find, and most of the calls to action click through to a form or a clear path to a form. The most important forms are inventory, sales specials, credit application, trade-in tool, service appointment and service specials.

Of course, conversion goes beyond the home page. Pricing, pictures, descriptions, credit applications, reviews, staff pages, and customer experience all play a part in a healthy conversion rate. Even keyword content aids conversion because it brings visitors with a specific goal in mind to your site.

3. Metrics
Measure website visitor traffic and conversion daily. Track the effectiveness of each form on your site. Get rid of the poorly-performing forms and put the high-performing forms in front of as many visitors as possible. Finding your peak conversion rate will take some experimentation and a little time. Tools like Google Website Optimizer and Optimizely can help with the forms, but you will still have to track and sort phone ups with training and CRM use. Finally, set goals for your site conversion, both short-term and long-term. Find the easy wins and start working on the improvements that may take a little more time to develop.

Once you have your site converting better, you’ll feel better about those advertising dollars you are spending to drive traffic, and you’ll like the return on your time, effort, energy and of course the money.
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Greg Wells
Senior Partner
Kain Automotive, Inc.
859.983.0370
GWells@AutoDealerMonthly.com

To BDC or Not to BDC?

Staffing strategies that drive online sales success

If you’re like many of the dealers I meet around the country these days, chances are good that the dramatic growth in internet shoppers has you thinking about a business development center (BDC). And with good reason: A BDC can help your store increase traffic and sales by effectively and consistently working with prospects to set — and keep — appointments. It can also be an expensive and disruptive proposition. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need for a successful BDC implementation, along with the alternatives you’ll want to consider to make the decision that’s right for your store.

BDCs emerged in the 1990s as dealers sought new ways to consistently manage customer interactions. By creating a distinct telemarketing department in the dealership and dedicating specially trained staff, they felt they could better respond to car shoppers’ telephone and email inquiries and encourage customers to take the next step toward a purchase. One automaker, for example, found that existing showroom processes were inadequate. A study it conducted revealed that:

[list:2pkinezk]- 75 percent of prospects were not asked their names
– 97 percent of sales associates did not set appointments
– 98 percent of incoming call prospects who scheduled an appointment did not keep it [/list:u:2pkinezk]

Unlike internet sales departments, BDCs today manage a wider range of customer interactions, including unsold showroom traffic, lease maturity, new model introductions and service reminders. They also work with owners nearing time for repurchase or help promote dealer events.

What Does a BDC Require?
Before moving forward with a BDC, review your existing processes and consider whether the improvements you want might be achieved in other ways. For example, deploying a CRM system helps to ensure consistent customer follow-up, while training classes help to boost your sales team’s phone and email skills.

If, however, you find that a more structured, formalized approach is necessary, you’ll then want to determine whether a BDC is a good fit. For a BDC to deliver the results you want, it must align with your store’s culture, processes, people, sales goals and available capital. (If you find a disconnect in any of these areas, you’ll want to consider the BDC alternatives we’ll discuss below. Moving ahead without consensus will likely result in an uphill battle with your sales and management teams, one that could delay, add unnecessary costs to or even derail your project.)

Still interested? We’ll now look at the "must-haves" you’ll need to put in place as you move forward with creating a BDC.

[list:2pkinezk]Budget. In addition to workspace and staff for the BDC itself, you’ll need to hire a department manager and purchase equipment�from a CRM/lead management system to computers with high-speed internet access, call monitoring and automatic call distribution systems, telephones and toll-free numbers.

Commitment. Management must be willing to stick with the BDC for a minimum of one year.

Process (i.e., phone scripts and email templates). To ensure customers receive consistent responses and follow-up, associates will need phone scripts and email templates. At the same time, both should be easily customized so that the agent can answer the car buyer’s questions and address any concerns.

Communication. The BDC manager should attend your manager meetings, and BDC associates should be kept current on all incentives, promotions and events at your store.

Staffing and training. Beyond hiring managers with strong leadership skills and sales-driven, goal-oriented associates with excellent phone and email skills, you must offer training. Associates, especially, must understand your processes and products and know how to overcome objections (e.g., requests for a best price or trade-in value).

Pay plan. Compensation for the BDC manager and associates should reward results. The program should include a baseline salary and establish minimum performance requirements. It also should make provisions for additional incentives available based on appointments, sales, customer satisfaction and monthly promotions.[/list:u:2pkinezk]

Establish Goals, Evaluate Success
As with any other department in your store, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Metrics you’ll want to track include leads received versus appointments made, appointments made versus appointments kept, leads purchased versus leads sold and the performance of individual lead sources. Also be sure to monitor the number and percentage of sales the BDC generates, the average gross on BDC sales versus the showroom team, customer satisfaction and the number of calls and emails the BDC manages each day.

If you’re not getting the results you want or expected, it’s time to assess the situation and take corrective action. Questions you’ll want to ask include:

[list:2pkinezk]- Is there really buy-in from all managers?
– Do showroom and BDC processes align?
– Are BDC associates consistently following processes and following up with prospects?
– Is the pay plan motivating BDC associates to deliver results?
– Are there too many or too few BDC associates?[/list:u:2pkinezk]

Consider the Alternatives
A BDC is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you determine that a BDC is not right for your store, there are other staffing scenarios to help improve internet sales processes. Instead of deploying a BDC, you might decide, for example, to:

[list:2pkinezk]- Use existing sales associates to share phone and email duties.
– Establish an internet department that uses dedicated sales associates to manage appointments and sales with internet-generated prospects.
– Contract with an outsourced BDC services provider to manage customer interactions from its facilities. [/list:u:2pkinezk]

As with a BDC, each of these options presents pros and cons that merit careful attention. Using your existing sales associates minimizes your upfront costs and is ideal for smaller stores, for example, but these people may not have good phone and email skills. Accountability also can be a concern, as individual follow-up proves difficult to track. Opting for an internet department, meanwhile, allows you to utilize your best-performing associates and works well with larger stores. Conflict may arise, however, if floor sales associates feel they’re being bypassed with the best leads.

Regardless of which route you take, the decision to BDC or not to BDC should be based on the business � not on industry trends or what your competitors are doing. Absent full buy-in from your management team and sales associates, the effort likely will not succeed and may create conflict that can disrupt operations and sour customer relations. If the route you want to take doesn’t meet with your store’s budget, goals and culture, your employees and, most importantly, car buyers won’t follow along.
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Written by Kathleen Kimmel @ Cars.com

Training and Testing Your BDC

There are plenty of dos and don’ts when working in a business development center. How often do you train and test your business development representatives (BDRs) to ensure they know the dos and don’ts and are performing to the best of their ability?

Of course, BDRs need to take comprehensive assessment exams over the first few months to see if their initial training is truly ingrained. Ongoing training and testing, which can be in a group or one-on-one setting, should be done at least monthly, if not weekly, and can focus on individual performance and specific topics.

A one-on-one setting is the opportune time to review BDR productivity. Discuss BDRs’ individual goals, whether they hit them, and why they did or didn’t hit them. Then, discuss what they need to focus on improving, what their goals are for the coming month, how they’re going to achieve them, and how you, the manager, can help them achieve their goals.

When it comes to testing your BDRs’ knowledge, change up the testing a little bit from time to time. You don’t want to do the same monotonous testing or training all the time. I’m a fan of pop quizzes, and one of the best ways I’ve found to test BDRs is to include essay questions.

Have BDRs write down what it means to do their job, everything their job entails and the knowledge required to properly do their job. Pose this scenario: “You are to be promoted tomorrow and have to write something to train your replacement. Don’t leave anything out.” You can read it and know whether they’re on the ball or missing some stuff.

A good group training exercise is playing recorded calls and asking BDRs for feedback. Consider holding a “Call of the Week” contest. Whenever BDRs feel they’ve nailed a call, they can put it up for consideration as the Call of the Week. Offer some kind of reward (plaques, certificates, bonuses, etc.) for the winner, and replay the calls in the training. You also can replay mystery shop calls and ask the group what they think the pros and cons of the calls were, but remember, group training is neither the time nor place for negativity or reprimands.

Having trouble coming up with a weekly training topic? Here is a list of BDR Dos and Don’ts that are good topics to train and test on:

BDR Dos

[list:p8el9xum]1. Maintain consistent contact, follow up and referral flow.

2. Plan and prioritize your daily work or marketing plan.

3. Keep up to date with company developments, sales, promotions and contests.

4. Keep copies of all current advertising and retain the last four weeks of advertisements.

5. Develop your communication and selling skills, especially your questioning and listening techniques.

6. Understand the word “representative” and apply etiquette on the telephone.

7. Track every lead, call and appointment to the conclusion of the buying cycle.

8. Watch your own body language in a mirror at your workstation to ensure a smile and proper tone.

9. Adjust your tone to match the volume and speed of the customer’s tone. (Commonality = Rapport)

10. Validate every customer’s timing, choice or thought process.

11. Always T.O. any ineffective or challenging calls.

12. Always mention “checking the appointment calendar” before setting the appointment.[/list:u:p8el9xum]
BDR Don’ts

[list:p8el9xum]1. Avoid leaving generic “great news” voicemails like everyone else; leave curiosity-based voicemails.

2. Don’t call without checking for Do Not Call or Do Not Reappoint status.

3. Don’t assume that an appointment didn’t show because there is no record of them showing. Call them and if shown, notate it and create a “concern ticket.”

4. Never negotiate deals with customers. Targeting budget ranges and choices are better; if a price is required, T.O. to a manager.

5. Do not knowingly misinform customers for any reason.

6. Steer clear of using offensive language; if engaged in an offensive conversation, T.O. the call.

7. Don’t offer concessions, prizes or vouchers unless directed or part of a marketing campaign.

8. Never ask open-ended questions; instead, ask assumptive questions.

9. If a customer is talking about vehicles, avoid using the terms “on the lot,” “in stock” or “in inventory.” Refer to “availability” instead.

10. Don’t use the word “approved.” (All applications can be “accepted.”)

11. Never change the name on the account or appointment without managerial approval.

12. Don’t ever remove an appointment from the appointment log or a customer from the database.[/list:u:p8el9xum]
Attitude is everything! Make a point to differentiate yourself, your store or your group, and please understand that although customers may forget what we said, they will never forget how we made them feel. People will commit to an appointment for one of two reasons: 1) to say what they think needs to be said to get off the phone, or 2) because we have effectively instilled a feeling of trust, excitement, urgency or hope.
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Glynn Rodean
President, CEO
New Vision Sales
866.532.2827
GRodean@AutoDealerMonthly.com