Category Archives: Phone-Ups


Customer calls pave the way to a visit, and a sale, if properly handled

Some car shoppers begin the buying process by driving to the dealership, where they can see the vehicle up close and take it out for a spin. Most customers, however, prefer to call and learn about the features that interest them before scheduling a test drive. Understanding how to manage the conversation, and remembering that most walk-ins begin with a phone-up, improves the odds of converting a phone-up to a walk-in and a walk-in to a sale.

Set the stage
A car shopper on the phone shares two basic concerns with the car shopper in front of you: Do you still have the vehicle? What is your best price?

Yet price likely will not be the determining factor. Although customers ask, they really are trying to learn about its value (i.e., What is its history? How is it equipped?) and to determine if you are willing to negotiate.

To move the conversation forward, acknowledge that you are open to a reasonable offer and shift the focus back to the car. Answering customers’ questions about the vehicle enables you to weave in a few queries of your own to determine how well it fits their needs. Through a brief exchange, you build credibility for the dealership and yourself. You set the stage to guide the phone-up through the sales process vs. acting as an order taker.

Set the appointment
After determining that you have a match with the customer on model and price range, it is time to sell the appointment. While it may be tempting to try to close the deal, most people will be more receptive to beginning the sales process after they have driven or, at least, seen the car.

As we discuss in this month’s Tips & Techniques column on ensuring car shoppers keep their appointments, scheduling meetings on the quarter-hour delivers the best results. Rather than ask an open-ended question about when or whether the customer would like to arrange a test drive, suggest a time: �Would a 5:15 p.m. or a 5:45 p.m. appointment work best for you?

Many salespeople do not enjoy handling phone-ups because they perceive them as distractions from walk-in customers. While that belief may often be true, the odds are in your favor: Nearly one in two phone-ups from comes from ready-to-buy car shoppers who purchase a vehicle within 30 days.1

1 Experian Automotive, Auto Leads Analysis, September 2004 � August 2005

Written by Fred Haney @

This Call May Be Recorded For Training Purposes

Learn best practices from on-going research including 6.000,000 recorded calls/mo.

[list:29tgglc7]- Many of you are spending upwards of $600 in advertising to make the phone ring
– Up to 76% of your customers are calling before they come into your company
– As many as 86% are buying something other than what they initially called on
– Nearly 80% of those calling buy within 3 to 5 days of calling
– Less than 4% of those calling are buying as a result of setting an appointment
– Your corporate image is often being established or compromised over the phone.
– Most of us are competing for the business through our phone skills
– We are rarely recognizing the value of the phone until our competitors do [/list:u:29tgglc7]
Many companies use Call Tracking and Recording services to measure advertising response, capture caller information and monitor sales performance. While tracking technology provides useful business intelligence, in most enterprises, call tracking data is rarely analyzed and severely underutilized.

Corporations simply do not receive return on their tracking investment because they don’t consistently review their call reports and recordings, or dont fully leverage the information they’re paying to collect. If carefully interpreted, this intelligence will reveal ways for businesses to adjust their sales and marketing processes so they can attract more customers, set more appointments and sell more products.

If you are currently tracking and recording your calls, do you review your call data? More specifically, what changes have you made to your sales process, staffing or operations based on the call information you’vecollected over the past months or years?

[list:29tgglc7]- How frequently do you analyze your call reports and validate the ROI of your advertising campaigns?
– How many advertising dollars have you saved or redirected to more effective sources? How much has your call traffic increased as a result of adjusting your media buys?
– How consistently do you listen to your recorded calls? Do you review the calls with your sales consultants to reinforce coaching and training? If so, are your sales professionals now more successful at setting appointments and converting callers to buyers?
– Do you analyze your call volume and activity reports and adjust your staffing to reduce busy or unanswered calls? Have you considered using a professionally managed call center to handle overflow and after-hours call traffic?
– Does your sales staff promptly return missed calls? Do you review recordings for mishandled leads for “save a deal” opportunities?
– How much additional revenue does this generate for your company or department every month? [/list:u:29tgglc7]
These opportunities may seem obvious, but most organizations just don’t have the time or staff to review and interpret call data, listen to inbound calls and continually train and retrain salespeople. In just one month, one company went from a market share of 11.4% to 18.8% utilizing the simple and inexpensive CallCoachsm phone handling process .

If your company could use some support, consider partnering with a consulting organization that offers experienced advisors and trainers to do the work for you — CallCoaching– consistently, objectively and economically. Those having recognized this opportunity have at least tripled their appointments set and kept over the phone, typically doubling phone related sales.

Whether you can manage the resources to do it in-house or ultimately turn to outside experts, the secret to success lies in turning the wealth of call data you collect every day into actionable intelligence that will bring in more customers and generate more sales every month.

With this offer, you are entitled to receive a complimentary introduction to:

[list:29tgglc7]- Dont Just Track Activity Drive Productivity & Profitability

– Leveraging the Essential Elements of Phone Sales Performance Management[/list:u:29tgglc7]
Learn the Seven Successful Sequential Steps (S4) of time-tested phone handling skills that dramatically increase customer satisfaction through appointment setting and keeping, purchasing and following-up. This is a no-obligation offer that introduces these steps and allows you to evaluate your current processes against world class success-driven ones.

Written by Dr. John

We look forward to your contact and welcome your inquiries into this active-listening, controlled-process: or (888) 481-8771.

Voice Mail That Sells

As a business owner, I receive my share of sales calls in a given month. More often than not, I’m away from my desk or out of the office which means I end up listening to the messages instead of speaking directly with the sales person. Here are a few of the common mistakes I notice and how you can correct them.

Mistake #1 – The message lacks focus or clarity. You are more likely to receive voice mail today than actually connect with the person you are trying to contact. That means you must be prepared to leave a clear, concise message. Business people are too busy to listen to a lengthy message that is not focused and you lose credibility if you cannot state your objective without rambling. The average executive in an organization receives dozens of calls every day and many of them are from sales people trying to sell a product or service. If you ramble on, your prospect will probably press delete without listening to the entire message. Keep the message brief and to the point. Plan what you are going to say BEFORE you call so you are prepared.

Mistake #2 – The message is difficult to understand. A sales person recently left me a message and he spoke so quickly that I did not understand most of his message. I knew it had something to do with the Internet and getting top placement in search engines but I couldn’t decipher his company name and most of his message was unintelligible.

If you have an accent, recognize the fact that some people may find it more difficult to understand you. That means you may have to repeat yourself or slow down in order to be understood. This also applies if you have an unusual name. Make it easy for people to understand you.

Mistake #3 – Phone numbers are rattled off at lightening speed which makes it next to impossible to write them down. Most sales people state their telephone number too quickly. A general rule of thumb is to actually write down your own number as you state it in your message. This may sound simple but I’m sure you have had to listen to some messages more than once in order to capture the telephone number. Once again, you must make it easy for the person you are contacting to understand your message. If they have to replay the message several times they will seldom call you back.

Mistake #4 – The message does not compel me to return the call. "Hi, it’s Bob from Human Resources Plus and I’d like to talk to you about your recent merger. We specialize in helping businesses like yours manage the process more effectively." A message like this does not compel me to call you back.

To stand out from your competition, leave a message that offers some form of benefit to your prospect or customer. For example, "Hi Mrs. Smith, it’s Bob Jones from Human Resources Plus calling. Most companies who undertake a merger experience a significant reduction in employee morale. One way to improve this is to communicate regularly with your team and keep them updated on the progress of the merger. Learn additional strategies by calling me at…"

I recommend crafting a variety of different messages and offering a different benefit each time you call. Use case studies and tell your prospect about specific results some of your clients have achieved. Make your prospect want to return your call.

Mistake #5 – The message is too generic. Too many sales people try to sell their product or service to anyone who will buy it. Personalize your message by indicating that you know something about your prospect’s business and/or industry. Make references to specific challenges they face and give an example of how your product or service can help them. Remember to use your prospect’s name, particularly at the beginning and at the end of the message.

Voice mail is a vital tool in today’s business world. How you utilize this tool greatly affects your sales results and, in my experience, the majority of people fail to use it properly. Make sure your message is easy to understand and keep it brief. Enunciate your words clearly and spell out your name if necessary. Slow down your rate of speech. State your telephone number slowly so I can write it down without listening to your message three or four times. Give me a compelling reason to call you back. Lastly, adapt your message to my specific business. Personalize it and use my name. If you want to cut through the clutter and stand out from your competition you must make your voice mail messages work for you.

Kelley Robertson, President of the Robertson Training Group, works with businesses to help them increase their sales and motivate their employees. He is also the author of "Stop, Ask & Listen ­ Proven Sales Techniques to Turn Browsers into Buyers." Receive a FREE copy of "100 Ways to Increase Your Sales" by subscribing to his free sales and motivational newsletter available at Contact him at 905-633-7750 or

What Happens When Customers Call

Is the Telephone Overlooked in Your Dealership?

These days it seems everyone is talking about digital marketing, Internet leads, social media and CRM, but are we overlooking the oldest and most useful piece of technology in our business—the telephone? With all of our attention and resources focused on Web site traffic, conversion rates and a fan page, what happens when all this works and a customer decides to just give us a call?

One NADA study I saw from a mystery shop of 8,000 dealerships showed dismal results. Forty-two percent of dealership employees didn’t even ask for the caller’s name! Only 29 percent asked for an appointment, 34 percent a phone number, and an appalling 84 percent offered discounts on the phone (to a customer we can’t follow up with.)

So basically, it’s one and done. A low-funnel consumer, whom we have spent thousands of dollars to attract, calls the dealership and eliminates us through sheer incompetence on our part. How do we continue to overlook this poor quality of interaction by our employees with a precious opportunity to do business?

Of course, this isn’t every dealership. Some dealerships are quite good on the phone. Take Trapp Cadillac Chevrolet in Houma, La., for example. Each call starts with the switchboard operators. After a cheerful and heartfelt greeting, Trapp’s switchboard operators get you connected. They don’t put you on hold indefinitely, inadvertently transfer you to the body shop or patch you to a voicemail box that may or may not be monitored. There isn’t anyone picking up the call, asking who you’re holding for and then putting you back on hold, thus taking you off the operator’s radar.

Ray Hebert, GSM at Trapp, directs sales calls to a customer care center where dedicated phone experts help customers gather pre-sell information and do a great job of setting appointments for these customers with showroom managers.

For any dealer, capturing these customers and converting them to visitors is a matter of strategy. A simple phone-up process is one of the most basic and core processes that should exist in your store. Many different processes work. I think calls can be routed to a BDC or handled by salespeople. Either way is fine. The key is to have a living process—a process your employees are trained on, a process where you measure and monitor employee’s performance and then hold them to a standard.

Ahhh, standards. I’m talking about accountability, aren’t I? Why can’t we get this part right? Chris Bender, GM at the VanDevere Group in Akron, Ohio, gets it. His salespeople take inbound phone calls and are held to a standard that he’s not flexible on. If you don’t hit the benchmarks, you don’t take sales calls. One of their three stores boasts a 17-percent close ratio on phone ups, more than three times the national average.

I believe a good first step for a dealer who wants to get better on the phone starts with an honest assessment of what they are currently doing (right or wrong). Then, work towards doing all the right things. Here is a simple self-evaluation on your telephone processes. For each line item, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 points meaning you do that action well.

Now, start working on the opportunities. You can easily get to 100 percent on this evaluation very quickly. Acing this test is just a matter of paying attention to the most-used piece of technology in the dealership and a major opportunity stream for your sales, parts and service departments.

Greg Wells
Partner, Kain Automotive Internet & BDC Training and Consulting

Phone Dynamics

The first step in advancing the productivity of your staff in using the phones is a better understanding in the importance that the telephone can play and how it affects your business. Often a lack of the right attitude is displayed in the treatment towards the receptionist position. The receptionist is usually hired without any guidelines that would be used to hire for an important position. In your dealership do you have personality profiles, set interview questions and guidelines to hire an exceptional receptionist? Do you have a formalized training process and performance based pay? Often the receptionist is the lowest paid person in the dealership but is often the person who influences the customer first. Why not pay the receptionist a bonus based upon various criteria such as average time to answer a call, average hold time for a customer etc.

The sales people also need training on the understanding of the importance of both inbound and outbound sales calls and how this can affect their incomes. A sales person can sit around all day waiting for someone to come in, but they can take incoming sales calls and treat them like they are not important. The average dealership will spend a fortune on advertising to get people to call and come in but not pay attention to what is happening when the customers call or come in. Call a competitor or call your own dealership and mystery shop a few times and ask yourself if you are impressed with the results.

Let¹s talk about a few things to improve the importance of sales performance in utilizing the phone. First of all, the dealership needs a formal call tracking process. Many dealerships know their floor traffic but not their phone traffic. Why? This sends the wrong message. You must quantify to qualify, meaning you must know where you are at to understand where you would like to go. Have the receptionist use a call tracking sheet that they are trained to use. Example: On an incoming sales call, the receptionist should positively remark that they will be happy to get a sales representative for the customer and then acquire the customers name by asking ³and your name is?² The receptionist can then list the customers name on the log with the date and time received and page for a sales representative. Now the receptionist can write their name on the tracking sheet as well. The sales representative is responsible for putting remarks of the results on the log after the sale. The above process can be altered according to the technology you have established in your dealership. Managers can now include a review of the phone traffic in their daily one on one coaching sessions.

Sales people must have a formal tracking sheet they use when taking calls to assist them in remembering the right steps and collecting the information necessary. The first step in changing the view of a sales person towards the phone is to show them how easy it is to pick up several units each month just by having better phone skills. The Internet has increased the number of sale calls and the quality of customer calling.

Sales people must be taught new techniques that match the marketplace of today. Sales people have been taught the importance of getting name and number so much so that they are jeopardizing the appointment and scaring customers away. Gone are the days of telling the customer you are out in service and not at your desk so you would like to get their name and number and call them back or that the customer just needs to come on down so you can show them in person. Customers are looking for ways to dismiss you as an option and outdated phone skills will make that happen quickly.

Review the telephone operations in your dealership and take steps to increase the skills of everyone using the phone. Better phone process and skills uncover hidden wealth.

Written by Mark Tewart

Dirty Dozen Phone Tips To More Sales

Is it smile and dial or frown and drown? Phone usage is at its all time high. Don’t believe me? Look at many people have cell phones today. I think they are starting to give them out in nurseries now. My question is, why are salespeople so afraid of the phone? You can always hang up, can’t you? You don’t even have to answer it if it rings. Remember that movie, “Dial M For Murder”? Ok, when your customers call into the dealership, it’s to get information, not anything else? So you can take the fear out. Besides, isn’t fear ignorance, and isn’t ignorance cured by knowledge? Isn’t knowledge valuable when placed into action? Don’t you get paid for what you do with what you know?

All I know – after being in sales for years – is that the telephone is a way to sell more cars in this business. You have to decide, do you want to be a phone wimp, or phone ninja? I can tell you one thing; you will never surpass average without mastering great telephone skills. It’s impossible, unless you want to become a lot lizard and wait for those “I can’t stand salespeople,” tough to close, low gross customers.

To Insure Performance Salesperson. Let’s review those TIPS:

George’s Dirty Dozen Phone TIPS to More Sales

1. Preplan the call – Don’t make the call without preplanning.

2. Determine the objective of the call. Is it a referral call, is it a call back or is it to give them a sense of urgency to come back? Why are you calling?

3. Get to the decision maker

4. Collect as much information as possible. Now that doesn’t mean you sell cars over the phone; you sell appointments.

5. Give them a couple of reasons why they should come in to your dealership if it is a phone up.

6. It is called voice mail, not voice jail. How many times have you deleted a message before it was played out? Leave a couple of benefits on the voice mail such as: “This is George calling from Downtown Motors. The number here is 951-898-9071, and the reason for my call is that we have the exact car you need. Our best finance manager is here today, and you should really take advantage of it. Please call George at Downtown Motors at 951-898-9071. I look forward to your call.”

7. Give your customer something right away if you are calling back; start off by saying, “Mark, the reason for my call is…”

8. Use your customers name frequently during the phone call

9. Don’t talk too fast on voice mail. How many times have you had to play back the voice mail because you couldn’t remember the phone number?

10. Don’t talk too much. Talk 30 percent; listen 70 percent. You have to ask questions. That means you give up control to get control.

11. Don’t leave people on hold too long. What a joke! Have you ever hung up on someone because they left you on hold too long? Duh, 30 seconds seems to be a lifetime!

12. Move towards the appointment along the way, and when you do, say something like this: “Can you come in now or later on?” Now before you say this, practice it like this: “Can you come in Now…or later on?” Make sure you pause at the word NOW. Don’t ever ask, “When can you come in?” That question is way to open ended.

I would take these tips and place them on a 3” by 5” note card. Go ahead and get one right now, and write these tips down. Then, review the tips before you make your calls or even when you take an incoming call. You must remember, most people call your dealership for a couple of reasons. One is to see if you have the car or credit they need, two is to get a price and three is to hang up and call more dealerships. The longer you stay on the phone, the worse it gets because at some point, when your customer runs out of car questions, it then turns into price questions, doesn’t it? The more information you give them, the less reason they have to come in now. Sell appointments, not cars over the phone. Don’t prequalify and play FBI secret agent on the phone. Get them to commit to an appointment by using skills. Don’t lie or do anything of the sort. That should be left for the weak. Sell them on you, your program, your dealership and your product. One last tip – when taking or making a call, stand up and use your tone and inflection along with body language. Those that call while relaxed will get results. Now go do the right thing.

Have a great month,

written by George Dans, President
George Dans & Associates

How to Carry Out Effective Prospecting Activity

For many sales people, the mere mention of the word PROSPECTING sends a shiver down the spine

Why is that?

Could it be that all too often when it comes to prospecting what happens is this?………..

The showroom goes quiet so the Sales Manager prints out thousands of names and telephone numbers and piles them on the sales peoples’ desks

He then tells them to ring all the contacts on the sheets and make some appointments

To soften the blow the Sales Manager sometimes offers a bribe in the form of a pizza while they make the calls

Sometimes the sales people touch lucky and happen to come across someone who is in the market

Mostly though, all the sales people come across is one rejection after another

So should it really come as a surprise when the sheets come back to the Sales Manager with a large proportion with ‘no reply’ written next to them?

So what’s an alternative?

Well, instead of us trying to plough through an enormous list as a last drastic measure to try to generate showroom traffic when it goes quiet, could it be more productive if we were to carry out a minimum number of good QUALITY prospect calls each day?

If these are targetted contacts, this should greatly increase our chances of the prospect actually being interested, and turning in to an appointment and subsequent sale (and when this starts happening we change our attitude towards prospecting!)

So let’s take a look at how to carry out some effective prospecting…….

How to Make Effective Prospecting Calls

1) Overcome the fear of prospecting

TOP Tip – there have actually been whole books written on this subject! In a nutshell, let’s think about it like this: what is the worse that can happen? The worse that can really happen is every person you call on a particular day is not interested in your offer today. That’s it. Don’t take it personally, thank the Customer for their time, and get on to the next call. For each Customer who is not interested you are one step closer to finding the Customer who IS interested. And remember, it’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock

2) Find some prospects who we can target

TOP Tip – a good place to start is with previous ‘finance’ customers so we’ll use this as an example, but you may also like to target high mileage service customers, bodyshop customers, MOT customers, fleet customers (their family and friends), small local business owners, private hire drivers, driving school instructors, use your imagination

3) Work out a genuine offer

TOP Tip – all the Customer is interested in when they receive a prospecting call is “what’s in it for me?” .So for the finance customer for example, stack an approximate deal to compare the monthly payment the customer is making now, and what the monthly payment would be if they were to trade in for the equivalent new car. If the monthly payment is comparable, that could be the basis of your genuine offer, and this should intrigue the Customer enough to want to meet you

4) Have a rehearsal first

TOP Tip- if you’re a Sales Manager, go through a rehearsal run with the sales person, write down the key points and agree what to say. If you’re a salesperson, rehearse with your Sales Manager or a trusted colleague so you feel confident about what you are going to say before you pick up the receiver

5) Smile as you dial!

TOP Tip – we always smile when we are meeting our Customers (don’t we?), so let’s do the same on the telephone. You really can hear a smile on the telephone, so smile as you dial!

6) Contact the Customer with the genuine offer

TOP Tip – so you’re revved up raring to go – the call should go something like this…

Hello, may I speak with Mr Jones please?

Hello, Mr Jones, my name’s Stephen Turner, from ABC Motors, are you free to talk for a few moments?

The reason for my call today is to let you know about a great new finance offer which we have just been granted by our finance house… what this means is, for a limited time, I may be in a position to offer you a trade in for a brand new car for a payment very similar to what you’re making now…..Mr Jones, if it was attractive to you, would you be interested in looking in to this in more detail?

7) Make a confirmed appointment

TOP Tip – try not to leave the Customer with a wishy washy outcome like “I’ll pop in sometime”. Try this instead:

When would be a good day to come in, could you make it today or tomorrow?

Would 1.15pm or 3.30pm suit you best?

Great, so that’s tomorrow at 3.30pm, if you can just do me a favour and give me a call if for any reason you can’t make it, as I’ll be putting some time aside specially for you

If the Customer is not interested at this current time, agree to contact them again at a specified later date – remember – “no” means “no not now” not “never”

8) Don’t procrastinate

TOP Tip – when you’ve finished the call use your finger to hang up, DON’T put the phone down. As soon as you put the phone down your attention can be taken away on to some other ‘pressing matter’ and you don’t get around to making the calls. So use your finger to hang up, and get straight on to the next call

9) Don’t try to make too many calls

TOP Tip – often controversial but from my experience I’d much rather see sales people make three or four real good quality calls like this every day, rather than trying to scale a mountain of contact sheets (constant dripping hollows out a stone) and this still applies even if we’re ‘on a roll’ and have turned all our calls today in to appointments

10) Review the calls

TOP Tip – if you’re a Sales Manager, review the outcome of each call with the Sales Person. If an appointment was made – great! – let’s put it up on our appointments board. Controlling and monitoring prospecting activity is much easier in bite size chunks, as is the on going coaching of the sales people on the calls. If you’re a Sales Person, review the calls yourself, what did you do well? Where are the potential areas of improvement?

Still not convinced? Well here’s the maths….if we make 4 quality prospect calls on the 4 days during the week we work…(that means no prospect calls at weekends!)…on a 48 week year this equates to 768 quality prospect calls….on a 20% conversion this equates to 153 sales…based on £75 commission per unit this equates to an extra £11,475 in our wage packet. Oh, and if you think these figures are optimistic,halve them and halve them again and you’ll still make enough for a fabulous holiday in the sun (maybe two)

So there you go…why not make some good quality prospecting part of your daily routine? (and make a start today!)

How to Manage Your Telephone Reception Log

Once upon a time, if we’d been asked "Who is our hottest prospect of the day?" we would have most likely answered "the walk in – the person visiting the showroom is our hottest prospect of the day"

For many years, that was probably true

However, in recent years, the balance has changed somewhat, and today some of our hottest prospects are, in fact, from the incoming telephone enquiry

So, what’s changed?

Think about that for a moment……..

OK, one of the biggest factors that has affected this is the advent of the internet

People are generally more than comfortable about shopping on line these days aren’t they?

Well, shopping for their next car is no exception

(According to research there were over 8 million car searches carried out on the internet last year in the UK alone!)

And you can picture the scene can’t you?

Man sitting at home in front of his PC…

"Hey Sheena, they’ve got one of those Paporizzis down at ABC Motors…and it’s the colour you like..hey, and it’s not a bad price either…come and have a look!"

And because internet surfers realise there could be an infinite number of other people looking at that exact same vehicle, this creates it’s own sense of urgency…

"You’re right Derek, you’d best give them a call to see if it’s still available – we could maybe pop down this afternoon to take a look"

Then, depending on how well the call is handled by the Retailer, will determine whether or not the enquiry turns in to an appointment, and a subsequent sale

Research has also found that 30% of telephone enquiries that come in to our business will, in fact, have purchased within 24 hours

So these telephone enquirers purchase very quickly!

Therefore, it’s vitally important as Car Sales Professionals that we understand the value of the incoming telephone enquiry, and that these are amongst our hottest prospects of the day

So, how do we set about maximising sales from our incoming telephone enquiries?………

Where a dedicated Receptionist is employed, we would always recommend a Reception Log is utilised to keep a record of all sales calls that have come in to the business, including the name and telephone number of the enquirer

This can be recorded on a simple paper log or,even better, electronically using an electronic prospect management system

Either way, once the Reception Log is in place it will need to be effectively managed to gain the full benefit in terms of increasing sales

TOP Tips for Effective Reception Log Management

1)Periodically check the Reception Log to ensure all calls are responded to promptly

2)Check the Reception Log before close of business to ensure all calls have been responded to on the same day

(We’ve probably all experienced contacting any kind of business, being promised a call back, then waiting all day for a reply? When it doesn’t come, how do we feel?)

3)Review the Reception Log as part of the daily sales meeting

What was the outcome of the enquiry?

Was an appointment made?

(If an appointment was made put this on an appointments board for ease of tracking, you can then check to make sure the appointment actually showed)

4)What can we do to turn the enquiry in to an appointment?

Also, and this is really important, be very ‘open minded’ about the enquiries received…

If a Customer has contacted us with an outlandish or hare brained enquiry, could it be that simply, when he made the call, he was not yet educated?

Would the likelihood be that every Sales Person he has spoken to will have made the decision that the enquirer was an idiot, and will have put the sales lead in the bin?

So, what is the likelihood of the enquirer receiving a courtesy follow up call to see if he needs any further assistance in purchasing his new car?

Not very likely?

Now we’re not suggesting for a moment that you will turn all of these types of enquiries in to sales – but hey – we could share LISTS of examples where this HAS happened – could we possibly turn one or two of these enquiries in to sales?

Finally, as with all our Customers, we need to be [i:2jj3h5ao]absolutely sure[/i:2jj3h5ao] we have done [i:2jj3h5ao]everything we possibly can[/i:2jj3h5ao] to turn the enquiry in to a sale

How to Maximise Sales from Your Reception Log

How to Maximise Sales from the Telephone Reception Log

1) Employ a dedicated Receptionist to record all the calls

Sometimes, when we suggest this to Retailer Principals (and Proprietors), they tell us “we can’t really afford to employ a Receptionist”

Well, can we really afford not to?…….

If let’s say, ten telephone enquiries come in to the business per day, and the Sales People decide to record, say 75% of the calls, that equates to around 900 unrecorded calls per year

Now, using the national benchmark of a 20% sales conversion, that equates to a potential lost sale amount of 180 cars per year

On a conservative £500 per unit, this equates to a potential lost profit amount of £90,000

Now, if that seems optimistic, let’s halve the amount and even halve it again

We’ve still more than covered the ‘cost’ of the Receptionist AND increased our sales and profitability…

2) Incentivise the Receptionist

Pay the Receptionist say, £1, for every sales enquiry recorded on to the Reception Log and an extra £10 for every one of those which results in a sale

Then watch the number of your recorded telephone sales enquiries go through the roof

(Switched on Receptionists will even be chasing up the Sales Team to make sure their efforts aren’t being wasted!)

This gives us the opportunity to start actually managing our telephone enquiries and, after all, if it isn’t recorded, how can we manage it?…

3) Ensure 24/7 Cover of The Reception

Okay, so the Receptionist does a great job whilst covering the Reception, but what about lunch breaks, early evening finishes, and weekends?

All these hours leave the Reception unattended – you do the maths

So let’s make sure there is a Receptionist in place all the time the Retailer is open for business

4) Carry Out Third Party Follow Up Calls Within 24 Hours

Go through the Reception Log every day and carry out follow up calls to all the new contacts from yesterday

These calls should be made by someone other than the original Sales Person who took the call, and should be carried out as ‘Customer Service Calls’ rather than sales calls

This way, we will impress our Customer with our efficiency and courtesy (what’s the chances of another Retailer following up the Customer? – practically zilch!)

We will also find what impression Customers have of us, and we may just find a few live sales leads which we can turn in to appointments and sales

5) Train all the Staff

For many Customers the first point of contact with us will be by the telephone, so let’s make sure all staff members who answer the telephone are [i:3hlo3xsh]trained[/i:3hlo3xsh] to do so

Not Getting Appointments?

During the normal course of business, you may find that your dealership’s phone-up appointment and closing ratios are dropping off. If you have a solid phone-up process in place and your sales staff has been trained properly, it may be difficult to understand why this is happening. Try reviewing the following checklist with your sales people one-on-one and ask the following questions:

Is it me? Look in the mirror and remember to “smile before you dial” or answer the phone. Your demeanor does get transmitted to the customer—even by phone. The tone of your voice is the first impression you give to the customer. Listen to your voice carefully as you speak.

– Do I truly believe that the phone-up is a hot prospect? Phone-ups are serious buyers looking for information to help them decide what and where to buy. You need to buy-in and believe it.

– Is my tone of voice friendly? No matter what problems you have, check them at the door and be ready—before you answer the phone. Your goal is to make your customer’s day, not ruin it.

– Did I use the customer’s name immediately? The operator who paged you gave you the customer’s name and what they are looking for. Use this information right away to help build rapport, then use the customer’s name as often as possible during the conversation.

– Do I speak clearly and make it easy to understand what I’m saying? Try calling a few local businesses and see if you can identify them only by the way the person answers the phone. Surprising, isn’t it?

– Did I ask the customer to write down my name? Asking the customer to take this action helps get them more involved in the process and to remember your name when they do come in. They may be using the newspaper ad they’re looking at to write your name on. This can help separate you from the rest of the pack.

– Do I sound energetic and enthusiastic? Try calling some other dealerships or businesses to hear how tired and bored other people can sound on the phone. Would you buy from someone like that?

– Am I listening to the customer or cutting them off when they speak? Remember that we have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Be patient and let the customer finish before responding.

– Am I keeping my personality professional and neutral? Your friends might see past your joking or sarcastic personality because they know you, but the customer does not.

– Am I careful about restraining my sense of humor? Everyone has a different sense of humor and could easily be rubbed the wrong way by something you may think is humorous.

– Am I answering questions without using “I don’t know” or other negatives? Respond with “let me check that for you” or “I’ll find out and call you back with the information.”

– Did I give out prices and other information without building rapport first? You can’t really sell the car over the phone. Save some of the details for when the customer comes in.

– Do I give the customer a reason to come in? Offer to be of service, to have the customer’s desired vehicle ready for a test drive, and to answer all their questions when they come in so that they can make an informed decision.

– Am I asking for the “order” (appointment)? The appointment is what we are really trying to sell. Your customer wants to buy! Ask them!

– Do I ask for the appointment again and again, or give up after the first attempt? Use an either/or question such as “would tomorrow morning or early afternoon be more convenient for you?” When the customer says “no,” they may really mean “not yet” based on what you’ve told them so far. Keep after it.

Will Parquette is the training director for Gates Automotive Group. He has been in the automobile business since 1984. He can be reached at 860 228-2886 ext. 147 or email