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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.
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
Well, you know it’s inevitable. Eventually some in your dealership will leave, either voluntarily or involuntarily, but will exit nonetheless. Instead of just allowing people to ride off into the sunset, why not invest 5 to 10 minutes with them on the off-chance that you could learn a little something? You may be surprised at how many people with experience in your workplace possess valuable information that you could put to good use.
This is important because another reason to incorporate exit interviews is to increase the chance of ending on a good note with the person leaving. Remember, they’re consumers too!
1. Take time to review the exit interview form. The first thing on it is the employee’s reason for leaving. You really don’t want to spend a lot of time here but it’s good for the company records, nonetheless.
2. Ask the employee how can customer satisfaction be improved? To trigger some input you may have to give a few examples and remind them it’s not just in the department they worked in.
3. Ask the employee how can employee satisfaction be improved? This may trigger discussion on employee treatment, training issues, quicker deliveries, pay plans, support from service and an assortment of other comments that you can filter through later. Remember, when you want more information, ask them to expand on or clarify why they feel this way.
4. Ask the employee how can profitability be improved? That is – any suggestions they may have that could generate income and or control expenses.
5. Ask the employee what’s their take on the overall dealership image & ask for suggestions. Ask them to identify pros and cons of working for your company. This will reveal areas you are doing well in and uncover needed improvements, if applicable.
Most of the time, the General Manager or Dealer would handle the sessions. However in the event they are not available or hey, maybe they were the problem; you will want Plan B in place. Plan B must be a qualified manager or two who understands the true importance and purpose to execute this meeting as designed.
Preface all meetings with a statement like: “Tom, we are always looking for ways to improve our operation and we value your opinions. This should only take 5 to 10 minutes and we would like for you to be candid and share your viewpoint in a few areas”. Then proceed using your form. You don’t want to rush through this, but anything over 5 to 10 minutes is probably overkill. Sometimes you may need to let them off the hook by saying that if they can’t think of anything right now, to please feel free to keep a copy of the form and email or mail it back after they have had a chance to think about their answers.
With these exit interviews, some will complain, some will provide valuable insight, and on occasion, you’ll get some real doozies. Sometimes you will discover some perceptions that may be shared by other employees that you can act on. Exit interviews can uncover extremely valuable information so don’t overlook this 5 to10 minute opportunity to strengthen your dealership. I used this when I was a GM. It captured some great ideas and indeed many employees exited on a more favorable note.
1996 was the year we rolled the dice. Thank goodness we didn’t know all that we would be up against, which we now know was a blessing, or we may never have powered forward.
The first time David and I walked into our newly leased empty building, he remembers the first thing I said, and it echoed…”How long did we lease this place for?”
I want to give a quick mention of our background. David was the corporate recruiter and trainer for a seven franchise dealer group, and I was the general manager of the Honda store. We had many discussions for a year or so regarding the possibility of starting a training company.
Well, the dealership owner informed me one day that he had sold the Honda store and if I didn’t mind, would I keep everything together, produce in the interim, keep everyone’s spirits up, oh, and please liquidate the pre-owned inventory as quickly as I could, and while doing so please be a good steward of his money.
I’m not the most educated guy in the world, but I am loyal and had a good bit of pride in what we had built over the previous years. Stay I did, and 90 days later I did the walk-through of the store with the new dealer and management team. What a blessing in disguise. Here I sit writing about The Mar-Kee Group’s 20 year anniversary!
I’ll never forget the statement the dealer’s son made in the walk-through of the facility. He stated that the first thing they were going to do was get rid of that leasing crap we had been doing. We had gone from 10% lease penetration, to 49.8% with an average of a 30 month term, and loving the short cycle return business. Anyway, the next day we opened the new, vacant office of The Mar-Kee Group.
David and I spent the next few years building the Success - One Idea at a Time program. This became a 64 VHS tape, 244 brief video sales training library, and we also began doing a good bit of in-dealership sales and management training.
In 2005, much earlier than dealers were ready to make the paradigm shift, we began building and offering the online program, eAutotraining.
I am incredibly proud of my partner, David Martin, and his accomplishments with over 10 NADA speaking appearances, and a great many Australian Key Note appearances. He has delivered our message in an extraordinary fashion and we are both proud of what we have provided to so many front line salespeople, who too often are left to survive and thrive on their own merits.
From my humble beginnings as a salesperson for three years, and then given the opportunity to perform at every variable management position over a period of nineteen years, to then go on to partner in building a training company where so many have given their trust and put their confidence in, well, I do take some pride in that.
First and foremost, we were not generic trainers trying to figure out the car business. We were car guys, with torn tee shirts, getting into the training business. One thing about car people, they know if you know or not, if you’ve paid your dues. They know immediately if you have real solutions for the things that take place every day in the dealership world. With that in mind, our business approach delivers the messages in brief segments, incorporates role play, and provides printed course materials along with testing.
Another way that we have been able to remain relevant is the fact that we never stop revising and adding the most up-to-date information for our valued clients. Also part of the successful business partnership is mutual respect and the balance we bring to the table.
In closing, I will say that a lot has transpired over the 20 year journey….from VHS, to DVD, to online training. A few times we, along with the rest of the world, have weathered some economic storms, yet keep coming out on the other side, powering through and staying excited about helping others put “The Art of Selling” back into the dealership.
The Mar-Kee Group
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