Did you know that there is a secret to setting firm appointments that will actually show up at your dealership? Not only show up, but actually arrive on time?
There is. There is a secret; and most salespeople and managers have no idea what that secret is.
The secret is this: You have to ASK for the appointment? Yep, you read that right: you have to ASK for the appointment… but the goal is an appointment that shows. I listen to hundreds of dealer calls – both inbound and outbound – every year, and less than 10% of the time do I even hear a hint of an attempt to set an appointment. Do you want to know what I do hear instead?
“When would you like to come in?”
Asking “when would you like to come in” is not the same thing as asking for the appointment. Unfortunately for salespeople, “when would you like to come in” tells the car buyer a few things. It tells them: (1) I’m not very important; (2) My time is not valuable; and (3) It doesn’t really matter when you come in… just come on in whenever you want.
Of course, all three of these points are not true: (1) You are important; (2) Your time is valuable; and (3) It does matter when they come in. (After all, we don’t need them showing up five minutes before we close or during the busiest part of our Saturday if we can TELL them when to arrive, do we?)
Do you want to know why salespeople ask “When would you like to come in?”
Salespeople don’t want to be rejected by the customer and customers NEVER answer “no” to that question. Customers can’t and won’t answer “no” when asked that, because even if they have no intention of ever coming in, they can easily answer something like “well, I can be in on Saturday; what time do you open?”
If the salesperson answers “we open at 9 AM” and the customer replies “great, I’ll be in sometime after that” do they have an appointment?
The answer is they do NOT have an appointment. Not a real appointment, anyway. The reason they do not have an appointment is that the customer is more likely to no-show than they are to show. It’s a soft appointment, as best.
If you want to start setting real appointments that actually show, you need to start TELLING the customer when to come in. For example, let’s say you catch a call on a used Toyota Camry you have on your lot. After the customer asks “is it still in stock?” you just need to follow a two steps to get them show and buy today:
- Create some urgency: “Yes, the Camry is still available, though at the price we’ve got it listed at, it won’t make it through to the weekend…”
- Set the appointment: “Now, I do have two test drives open on that Camry this morning. I’ve got a 10:15 and a 10:45; which one of those works better for you?”
No old school needs analysis here; no silly road-to-the-sale questions – just a simple, direct appointment request. If it helps you to remember what to say, just keep in mind the Appointment Setting 101 Goal: Every time I have someone on the phone, I have just one goal: An appointment that shows. You will be shocked at how many people select one of the times offered.
But what if they object?
You need to remember that appointments are the GOAL. When someone has an objection for us – something that would take us off our goal – we’re going to Grant the Objection. Basically, we’re going to agree with their concern. Then we’re going to Avoid it. Yes, we’re going to redirect their concern. Finally, we’re going to Launch back into our talk track.
We’re going to set the appointment. It takes discipline to always remember that appointments are the goal. GOAL – Grant the Objection, Avoid it, and Launch back into your talk track.
For example, if the prospect replies that they’re not coming in until you tell them what their trade is worth, you reply:
“I understand that it’s important to you to find out what we will give you for your trade-in before you arrive.” (You agree with the customer; in other words, you Grant the Objection.)
“However, if I gave you a price over the phone, the only thing I could do is either low ball or lie to you; because, only a trained appraiser knows what your vehicle is worth.” (This is where you Avoid the objection by redirecting it.)
“Now, I do have two appointments open this morning with my appraiser. I have a 10:15 and a 10:45. Which one works better for you?” (That’s Launching back into your talk track.)
That’s a little reminder that appointments are always the GOAL: Grant the Objection, Avoid it, Launch back into our talk track.
Finally, in order for your appointment to show it must be a strong, not weak or soft appointment. To be a strong appointment requires only three things:
- A specific day and time;
- A specific goal; and
- A verbal AND mental commitment by the prospect.
“Tonight before 9” is NOT a specific day and time; neither is “Saturday morning.” A specific day and time is just that, specific: today at 10:45 AM.
The specific goal can be anything from a test drive to a trade appraisal; but the customer must understand why they’re being asked to come in.
In order to get the verbal AND mental commitment by the prospect, you have to complete a strong recap after you both have agreed on a specific day, time and goal. This takes discipline, since most salespeople cannot wait to just get off the phone.
Just remember that the recap is what is going to drive the mental commitment by the prospect. Here is the recap that when used correctly drives an 80% show ratio for appointments set for today or tomorrow:
“Okay, (prospect name), just to recap: we’re going to see you at 10:45 this morning to test drive that 2013 Toyota Camry. Now, (prospect name), I’m going to get that Camry cleaned, gassed, parked out front and ready to go so when you arrive for your test drive, you will be in and out and on your test drive in about five minutes. (Prospect name) if anything happens to us or that Camry, we will call you well in advance so you don’t waste a trip down here; all I would ask from you is that you show me the same courtesy. So, can I count on you for today at 10:45?”
When the prospect replies “Yes,” you not only have a verbal commitment, but also a mental commitment; because they know and understand all of the things you’re going to do to get ready for this appointment.
Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience, is the host of Undeniable Advantage Live!, a monthly live video webcast and customer service training provider hosted at UndeniableAdvantage.com. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at SteveStauning.com.