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Lord help the salesperson who is heard telling a customer they are off the day in question or that they are out early that day, and asks if the next day is possible. On another note, a salesperson who is a long term, super-productive entity of your organization, may risk nothing by working a little around their own schedule. After all, if confident that his/her customers want only this salesperson; then maybe there is no risk of defection. But wait, here comes the tip, and you decide if you can use it for better time control, then share it.
Here’s the tip:
When a customer asks “What time do you close?”, simply reply “We close at 8:00, so of course you’ll want to be here around 6:30 or 6:45 so we’ll have adequate time to get you all the information you deserve. Or would you like for it to be even earlier?”
Maybe they can’t make it that early, yet when a better answer will stand a good chance of an earlier appointment, you must consider. If you are not doing something to affect the show time, you’ll be staying later and NOT have adequate time to close some of the deals. Face it, by 9:00, you and your customer have had a looooooong day, and they may question their own decision making while fatigued, so it makes sense to get them earlier, if possible.
Even if this doesn’t rock your world, unless you are opposed to getting home a little earlier more often, please consider it.
For more incoming calls and outgoing phone skills tips, check out:
- Ultimate Phone Expertise for Automotive Dealers
- Ultimate Phone Expertise for Boat Dealers
- Ultimate Phone Expertise for RV Dealers
Many times, salespeople contact potential customers through email and then wait to get a response, if they ever get one at all. Though email is a convenient and important tool for businesses, the best way to develop and maintain customer relations is through brief, well thought out conversations on the phone.
Phone calls show customers you care and helps them connect on a more personal level. Taking the time to make these scheduled calls will go a long way in ensuring you will be on the customer’s radar when the time comes for another purchase.
There are many good reasons to contact customers throughout the year. These contacts can be made in a variety of ways—through phone calls, email and of course texting. Should you have a prospect that is in the decision making process, the phone call and text are by far the best method of communicating.
But having a plan before you call is just as important as the call itself. Your salespeople should be strategic and know what they are going to say prior to the call. Whether it is a check-up call, service call, or to answer questions the customer may have, knowing how to address issues or concerns is crucial. Make sure you have a planned response when leaving a voicemail too.
In today’s technology age, potential customers do their research first on the internet before going to the dealership. In most cases, they will call first to ask about a vehicle they have seen on the internet and obtain more details before stopping in to see it firsthand.
This is where having phone expertise is key. Addressing a customer’s questions and alleviating any possible concerns they may have (i.e. the mileage is too high or the model is older than they were looking for) is an important step to holding on to a potential sale.
Salespeople need to have a planned response to a question or concern before the call. For example, if an interested buyer was calling about a pre-owned vehicle you had on the lot and the miles on the vehicle made them uncomfortable, a good response to their objection would be:
“Well I appreciate your concern, but you may be pleased to know that our dealer’s pricing philosophy is to price every vehicle according to its precise mileage and condition. For example, if the miles were lower, this vehicle would certainly be priced higher. If you are more comfortable investing more to one with lower miles, I can investigate and see what other vehicles we have similar to this one and we’ll go from there. What I do recommend, since this one interested you, is to come see and maybe drive it, and in the meantime I’ll be looking into other options for you. What would be a good appointment time for you?”
Also, by providing them more options with lower miles, or whatever their preference may be, you are telling them you understand their needs and want to help them find the best car, RV or boat for them.
Therefore don’t volunteer too much information right away. Offer to show them the product in person and then give them the full details. A prospect seeing a vehicle, boat or RV in person will allow you to greatly increase the probability of closing the deal. The ability to see, touch, and drive it firsthand helps the customer imagine themselves owning it.
Another question that troubles some salespeople while on the phone, is when a customer asks if this is the best price, or says you have to work more on the price. Sometimes this is simply a test, they’re just doing their job and want assurance they don’t spend more than they absolutely have to.
One good response could be “We may have a little room, but the best thing you can do is come in to get a closer look, drive it, and let’s make certain it’s the right vehicle. If it is, then we will work hard to get you a fair proposal. When is a good time for you to come in?”
Many times, people will call in about a vehicle they are interested in, but exclude the fact they also have a vehicle they may want to trade in. By asking if they do, and that you are motivated to help them get the most money out of their trade, you are establishing trust and confidence in your service. People can be suspicious of dealerships because of the perception that the dealership is only in it for themselves. By assuring a potential customer you are looking out for their best interest and want to give them the best deal you can offer, it shows the customer you care about their needs and concerns.
You can also create some urgency when you express that their timing is perfect. Letting them know that your dealership needs pre-owned inventory more than ever and this will have a possible impact on the purchase price they receive.
The Mar-Kee Group offers many video tutorials to help salespeople make the most out of phone calls and other important sales topics. To watch a demo video on Ultimate Phone Expertise, click here.
The Mar-Kee Group offers comprehensive sales training programs for both automotive, boat and RV. Find out how our training can help your dealership!
The Mar-Kee Group
The Mar-Kee Group is proud to celebrate 20 years of outstanding Sales, Service, and Management Training.
How to handle trade-in appraisal requests via phone or email
Sales teams are finding themselves at a considerable disadvantage when being asked to provide trade-in offers on the phone and through email. We all know it is best to have the customer in front of us in a more controlled environment. Since shoppers are looking for everything to be quick and easy, it could be counter-productive to take the position of not accommodating consumers with the answers they seek.
Goals to strive for:
1. Be accommodating and non-evasive in responding
2. Give a reason to come in for the number (see script)
3. Create urgency for the buyer to come in for the number
4. Guard against strictly loading a competitor’s guns
5. Express the dealership’s extreme need for the customer’s vehicle
6. Give credit to the appraisal tool, yet with the potential to improve on it (without guaranteeing it)
Below, is a sample of a work track that may improve the results in getting the customer to the dealership. It is likely you have a few on the team that would love suggestions on how to do a better job handling these scenarios.
“Can you give me a number on what your dealership will give me for my trade?”
“We’d be happy to. We have access to a fantastic online trade appraisal tool, and it’s right there on our website. Using this tool allows us to provide you an excellent idea of where you stand regarding your trade.
“Here’s some more good news. Our experience with this customer trade appraisal tool is that it’s spot on regarding a fair, actually aggressive bid on your vehicle. However, there is one issue we at [dealership] have with it. It does not take into consideration our dealership’s current and extreme need for local vehicles, especially when they have service records, or at least some customer story behind it.
“We have actually seen the tool come up with very strong numbers, yet when we get the chance to look at the vehicle, we have put anywhere from an additional $1,000 to $1,500 (pick your numbers, or generalize i.e. “a good bit more”). We just ask for the opportunity to look more closely at your vehicle and, of course, take it for a brief road test. Doing this will most likely result in an even more aggressive purchase bid for you.
“I'd like to offer you 2 choices and you simply let me know which approach you are most comfortable with. We can utilize the online appraisal tool in order to get a preliminary number to work with, or what most people have been pleased with is option number 2. We cut to the chase and let [dealership] see the vehicle and get really aggressive on a purchase bid as early as today. Which option would you like to proceed with?"
Minimally, maybe more prospects will look at the number provided and be motivated to come into the dealership. Our mission is to be accommodating and non-evasive while still controlling the deal and the gross to some extent.
For more advice and training on automotive sales, take a look at our eAutotraining resources at The Mar-Kee Group website.
The Mar-Kee Group
The Mar-Kee Group is proud to celebrate 20 years of outstanding Sales, Service, and Management Training.
It is my belief that these two questions need to be asked every time before leaving the customer to get a proposal from management.
Next to the last question to ask the customer before getting up to go for desk assistance:
You have given the customer a chance to share the other equipment they may be considering. These are items they ask you to throw in if you want them to sign up. Often times it’s when you can least afford it; after you have already made previous deal concessions.
Maybe you really can afford to throw it in or at least share the cost with the customer. Why not nip this issue in the bud before it has a chance to cost you money, or even put the deal at risk? After you ask this question, and they said “no”, a few may still try later. However, this is when you simply state (with a smile of course),
Every desk manager has experienced salespeople who really need and want the deal. Some are hoping management will go along with the program and throw it in the deal. I also know there are many strong, non-bashful salespeople who don’t lay down and write up the offer. These people see it as hundred dollar bills they don’t want to give up unless of course, it’s already a Mini (I’m joking right? Not! ). They hold firm for the dealership because they run with extreme pride when desking their deals.
Let’s move on to question number two. Ask this final question before getting up and desking your deals:
Let me share my strong feelings for the precise wording here. First, I use the assumptive word “when”, not “if”. Next, the phrase “complete the rest of the paperwork, right now, correct?” (of course with an affirming head nod and a smile).
I mean, “do all the paperwork right now” isn’t walking on eggshells. “Do the paperwork right now” is no soft shoe, and if there’s anything else that needs to be flushed out, it’s about to surface. Any other potential obstacles or loose ends in the customer's mind is coming out now.
It’s not unusual for salespeople to ask “If we get the figures right could we earn your business today?”, or some version of this. I always want to avoid saying the same things other customers hear at other dealerships. With “earn your business today”, they can say “yes” with less commitment than the above alternative. Some say “yes” just to see what figures you can do, then ask for you to write it down on your exit visa, that’s your business card. And then, of course, they state they’ll “get back with you before they do anything.” The old joke used to be; “Ok, when you come back ask for “blue boy”; that’s me in the corner holding my breath waiting for you to come back.”
It sounds like we taught them how to ask the question, the less effective way. Don’t reprogram them after training them, because they will always ask the customer the same way you asked them.
Ok, one last thing.
If you require salespeople to fill out a needs assessment sheet with customers, then these two questions should be added to the very bottom, post demo, pre-desking.
If you would like to discuss this segment or any other issues important to you, give me a call. I’ll do my best to assist.
3 Strategies to Improve Vehicle Sales Gross IMMEDIATELY...
Richard Keeney, Co-Founder
The Mar-Kee Group
The Mar-Kee Group is the leading provider of Automotive, Boat & RV Sales, Service & Management Training Solutions.
The T.O. strategy has been around for quite some time, yet at some dealerships it’s not an “all the time” thing. Some salespeople view it as a friction point with management. Some handle it very well. They are grateful for the opportunity to get additional support as a final effort to close a sale.
It is important to communicate to salespeople that management needs to have the option of speaking with customers 100% of the time before they leave. They also need to work with their people to smooth out the transition to management.
When you say option, it may be a good idea to explain that management needs to leverage their time and won’t always opt to do the T.O.
Otherwise you will have those who think (and say) that the 100% philosophy is what is demanded yet not followed through on.
Below are great tips to use in an occasional sales meeting. Salespeople need to understand all of the benefits so they do it for their reasons, not just because you said so.
• T.O. stands for “Turn-Over” and “Total Opportunity”
• Should always be done (attempted)
• A second face can work wonders
• Makes a great impression on those not “closing” at this time
• Increases the chance of a return visit
• Provides customers with another contact should the Salesperson not be available later
• Partner with another sales team member as a backup plan
• Great gesture of appreciation for customer
• Customers will sometimes tell others what they won’t tell you
• Someone with a fresh approach and open mind-set may help the situation
• Common ground with customers can occur in many cases
• Some customers won’t close until final word from an authority figure
• Should always be done with class and professionalism
• Forget the ego - Get help often!
• If it closes easily - You have done your job
• Needs to be done in a timely manner
• Minimize ‘fire alarm” T. O.'s
• Say “Hold on just a second” – “I have an idea” or “I just thought of something.”
• Do not take customers to the command center (sales desk) without permission
• Even if another salesperson closes and you split - a half deal is better than no deal
• The T.O. is not only for the end of the visit
• Do it first for your reasons, and yes, it is also a responsibility
A sample of this concept is available in the new version of the Sales Management & Leadership module of eAutotraining. I invite your call. Should you ever want to discuss other sales gross enhancing ideas, I'd love to help! Feel free to contact Richard directly at 888.300.4629.
RELATED: How NOT to Ask For the Business (Some Humor Intended) by Richard Keeney
The Mar-Kee Group is the leading provider of Sales, Service & Management Training Solutions to Automotive, Boat & RV Dealerships.
Fact: When all of your variable staff embraces and lives out this strategy every day, well, there is just "no stopping that freight train". In fact, it’s a force so strong that when any customer continues to call, email or visit other dealerships, the “theory of contrast” is very much in play.
We simply need to make sure that all on the team, including managers, never lose the spirit nor their enthusiasm due to what things look like on the surface. You may have a level of comfort with all on the team giving every guest their best, but I do recommend you assess whether it is done 100% of the time by 100% of the staff.
You, as a dealer or manager can drive this concept into your culture like a wedge. By doing so, you will close more first time guests, create future return traffic like you have never experienced before (with excellent follow-up), and will (of course) create more front and back gross in the process. Period. End of story (well, actually I’m not quite through!).
I am certainly empathetic to the challenges and frustrations that salespeople and managers routinely encounter. They are constantly trying to work through credit-challenged customers, negative equity scenarios, unrealistic and sometimes rude customers, and of course all else that they face every day. Yet if I am not mistaken, that is everyday life in the car business, and part of why it can pay so well!
Another reality is salespeople are more prone to stay pro-active in their follow-up efforts when they know they have performed well and made a fantastic impression on the showroom guest.
Face it…the dealership that allows salespeople and managers the opportunity to provide for their families deserves nothing less than the employees very best efforts every time, no exceptions. When a customer gives them the chance to structure a deal, or simply needs preliminary information while in their research phase, salespeople should focus on providing thorough, courteous and professional treatment…100% of the time. When this is the case, this is the store that takes most customers further down the road to the sale than the average or less-committed employee takes that same customer.
This means: No longer can a salesperson go to the desk trying to sell the manager on the reasons to cut the visit short. Nor can we have managers expressing with body language and/or with word, that the salesperson has been foolish in spending so much time with a non-(today) buyer. We are investing time and effort, not sacrificing it.
Remember, the less apt they are to close now, the more motivation we should have to give it our absolute all! Every customer deserves:
• Effective counseling and interviewing prior to selection, minimally prior to desking the deal
• Impressive Feature/Benefit Walk-around presentations…like no one else can or will
• Effective test drives (20-30 minutes and making it “work” for the cause)
• Consistent trade walks (with the customer present) prior to discussing figures (potentially earning some flexibility on what the customer will be willing to accept for their trade)
• Service “Value” Walk prior to discussing figures (sell the value of the dealership, it matters). Do this even if figures are not being discussed during a particular visit
• A proper and timely T.O. with every customer
• Quality and timely follow-up, not just for the warmest of opportunities
Someone (the dealer) has paid money for every guest that calls, emails and enters our environment. If you didn’t pay it, you shouldn’t get to take shortcuts. The 70-80% of customers who leave without buying (this time) should leave thinking “Wow, when I get closer to actually buying, I want to go back there!”
In our business, we don’t sell a high percentage of those who initially call or come in, but always remember that the dealership’s image is always on the line and we need to be constantly earning the return visits, as well as all of the profit that is possible on the sales that we do make.
At the end of each day, every salesperson and manager should take pride in their contribution of 100/100/100%. This is a huge determining factor in their long term success, as well as that of their employer.
Below is a good flyer to post in the conference room:
Thank you and remember… I invite your call should you desire a chat.
The Mar-Kee Group
Do you have a few showroom guests that object to a write-up, even after they’ve demoed a vehicle? Maybe even some who resist taking a demo drive because they don’t want to be put in that write-up situation where someone might ask them to buy. Some do all they can in order to avoid being put in a situation where they may feel obligated. It’s human nature.
Assuming you have current and accurate performance statistics, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to adopt a new strategy where you can track and compare the improvements over time?
Some things will never change. It’s about comforting the guest, so that more of them feel safe about going further down the road to the sale. When you read this simple, easy to use script, put yourself in a customer’s shoes for a moment. Might you feel less pressure, therefore giving the salesperson less “push-back” to coming inside for a proposal.
Sometimes this script will help when it appears customers are apprehensive about going the distance when you are trying to get them inside for a proposal. Whatever the scenario; a shy showroom guest, a service customer or if you see an opportunity away from the dealership and the salesperson is doing the prospecting job that you wish everyone would do, it’s an option.
You just need people to get better at eliminating customer resistance. After all, fear not, this is simply a free, written proposal (known to you and I as a write-up!)
Additional sales strategies are available in the new version of the Sales Management & Leadership module of eAutotraining. I invite your call. Should you ever want to discuss other sales gross enhancing ideas, I'd love to help! Feel free to contact Richard directly at 888.300.4629.
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