More than ever before, customers are turning to the internet to research and shop for vehicles. This shift in behavior makes phone calls even more critical. Instead of visiting the dealership to ask vehicle questions, shoppers are turning to their phones.
In my last blog, “7 Steps to Take Before Every Sales Call,” I covered how, to have a fighting chance of setting appointments and closing new customers, you have to start every sales call armed with a plan to deliver an exceptional customer experience. I shared seven steps that sales associates should take to prepare for calls and to earn more appointments.
Leading on from that, the experience customers have on the call itself can be the deciding factor between visiting your dealership or hanging up and calling the next store listed on Google. In this blog, I will share seven tips sales associates should use during sales calls to set more appointments and earn more revenue.
- Prepare for the Call
Sit up straight, take a deep breath, and smile before picking up the phone. When you smile, your voice sounds brighter, friendlier, and more confident. Those qualities are likely to help you make a great first impression on the caller. Also, prepare your greeting. Answer every call with "thank you for calling," your full name, the dealership name, and the name of your department. End with a friendly, "How can I help you today?"
- Answer All of the Caller’s Questions
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many sales associates try to pin-down an appointment in the first couple minutes of a call or try to get any information to add customers to the CRM. Stop the clock too early, and you'll stop the transaction. Instead, answer every question and take notes, so you can have a complete record of the customer's wants and needs. Studies show that the actual customers will ask to set an appointment 74% of the time when all of their questions are answered. When some questions go unanswered, that rate drops to 48%.
- Ask About a Current Vehicle
Asking about a current vehicle builds rapport and helps you start to make connections. It’s proven that sales associates who discuss the caller’s current vehicle at least 50% of the time have appointment set averages north of 60%. You’ll also learn what the customer likes and dislikes about the vehicle. This is helpful when recommending vehicles on your lot.
- Make it Easy
The less effort a customer has to put in to get questions answered or issues resolved, the more they want to do business with you. According to a Harvard Business Review study when customers reported “low effort” with a company, 94% would purchase from that company again. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to do business with you. Know where to quickly find information about the vehicles on your lot, stay up to date with rapidly changing incentives and specials, and be prepared to transfer calls to your mobile device and physically set eyes on a vehicle of interest if needed. The goal is to satisfy the customer’s needs with one call.
- Earn Contact Information
Build rapport before you ask for complete contact information. When you answer questions and really listen, you’re putting the customer’s needs first. They will be more likely to see you as an ally, and therefore more willing to share personal details. Ask how to spell both first and last names. Show respect by asking if you should use the customer’s first name, or if Mr. or Mrs. is preferred. Always ask for the best communication channel, and repeat phone numbers and email addresses to ensure you have the correct information.
- Practice Active Listening
Listen twice as much as you talk, and truly listen to the customer. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. Ask questions to encourage customers to open up. If they like a particular vehicle, ask them why. Confirm and clarify what the customer means and takes notes along the way. Don’t rely on memory. You’ll lose trust and respect if you ask customers to repeat information multiple times.
- Ask for the Appointment
After you’ve answered every question and built rapport, ask for the appointment. Suggest a few days and times and let the customer decide. Be helpful but never pushy. Once the appointment is scheduled, send a reminder through the customer's preferred channel. You can also follow-up with useful information such as a walk-around video of the vehicle of interest, or a list of what to bring with them to the dealership.
The experience consumers have during sales calls can make or break a sale. Master these seven tips to shape a great customer call experience that will lead to more appointments and deals.