The Inbound Sales Call
Who can do this job for me?
In our last article, we discussed the dire need for proper sales training in the auto industry. With the advent of the modern technology and programming now being offered to dealerships, our people must be brought up to date or be left behind. That of course includes your sales staff. We can no longer afford to fly by the seat of our pants when working with today’s auto customers especially on the phones.
As opposed to the fairly recent past, buyers today have access to just about anything they need that tells them how to buy a car from you, right or wrong. You inventory, invoice and MSRP. Also, what their trade is worth and what a great deal will be on your car. Unfortunately, much of what they are reading is Cyber Fake News, similar to what has become famous in the recent election. They still need an expert who has been trained and factory certified to walk them through the actual facts of buying a car from us. Someone that can not only explain the nuances of a vehicle, but an advocate they can trust today and in the future.
And how do they find these angels? Well, after doing their endless research online, compiling their 3 ring binder of printed material from the “expert” Internet sites, and talking to the brother-in-law, they feel they are well armed to do combat with us, their dealership competition. But 85% will make a phone call before foraging out to test their new-found knowledge against the pros. So, how well thee calls are handled will determine their ultimate destination.
OK, it’s not that easy. But if you can adopt the winning customer-centered mindset, you’ve taken a huge step. The thought process needs to be this: “I will only hire professional people or those with that potential that have the same mind set we have just acquired that are looking for long term employment, and I will offer the best possible training to help them succeed.”
Part of this process has to be our image. We are no longer “car salesmen”. Nobody likes car salesmen, nobody wants to work with one and nobody wants to be one. There has to be a cultural shift with this profession. The image of the new sales associate in the automotive industry has to be one of a professional, well-mannered, knowledgeable and helpful customer liaison who’s main focus is to assist potential owners find and obtain the right vehicle and then stay with them forever. That’s all.
Believe me, the new image will be noticed by your customers. Once that happens, the customers and sales staff are now related. These new customers have been adopted by this dealership person and will rely on him or her for all their dealership family vehicle needs. All of them. They will be the first line of defense for all matters with their owners. There should never be a dealership customer who says, “I don’t remember my salesperson’s name.”
The sales people must build their own Book of Business. Business from which most of their future sales will come. All the best automotive salespeople I have ever met worked like this. Repeat and referral business was their forte. They sold more and made more with these people because of the professional relationship built over the years with them. We become “Their guy” in the business. People love having a “ Guy”. “Where did you get that car?” “I have a guy.” Again, current business is way more preferable and profitable than conquest business.
It is not all gravy for these new superstars. Another major paradigm change that has to happen as well is, the salespeople must be held accountable in this arrangement. Not many businesses allow their sales staffs to work as independently as the car business does. Not many will let their people handle inbound sales phone calls any way they wish just because they are the top guy. There needs to be a policy stating procedures for the sales process both on the lot and on the phone. If these techniques are not followed, the individual will be invited to seek employment elsewhere. There can be no Prima Donnas. Once a sales and training process has been established, it must be followed by everyone.
Take the time to hire the right people and then train them right and make them accountable. Think long term employment and get them thinking the same way. Training your sales staff is not an expense but an investment. I know, everyone says that but think about the alternatives discussed above. What better place to invest than in this asset, your people.
Future articles will concern different steps in achieving the above process and the tools required. Stay tuned.
Ted and Marcom have been training and consulting dealerships all over the world for over 30 years.