Slowing Sales? The First Expense You Should Cut Is Your Phone Training!


Slowing Sales? The First Expense You Should Cut Is Your Phone Training!

Wait… what? Did I just read what I think I read?

Yep. If you’re a car dealer looking for ways to save money in the face of current market softness, I honestly recommend (for most of you) that you eliminate your phone training expenses before you cut a dime from your marketing budget. 

While it’s true that I am in the business of training and consulting with dealerships, groups and even OEMs on everything from digital marketing to (you guessed it) how to dominate on the phones, I am indeed advocating that most of you eliminate your outsourced phone training.


Simple: it’s not working. Heck, I’d rather see most dealers spend their training budget on something tangible – like billboards on bus benches!

The Definition of Insanity: Paying for More Phone Training

Tell me if this true story sounds familiar:

Five years ago, the owner of a small group was lamenting to me about how his sales teams “stunk” on the phones, so he hired an outsourced training company to provide online phone training, monthly phone mystery shops, and one-on-one reviews for his salespeople.

For the past five years, he’s used this outside company to train his salespeople on how to sell more cars by winning on the phones; paying more than $100,000 in the process.

Today? He laments that his teams “stink” on the phones.

Rinse, lather, repeat.

I read a LinkedIn post recently that quoted some interesting sales call statistics apparently used in a variable operations class at the NADA Academy. Here are the lowlights of those stats:

  • 90% of calls end with no appointment
  • 63% of salespeople do not ask for an appointment
  • 67% of salespeople do not ask for the prospect’s name

This is what’s being shared with dealers today… in 2017.

Wait… what? Doesn’t the average dealer spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars every year to improve their team’s phone skills; including dollars thrown at technology like call monitoring and call management? Moreover, hasn’t this monetary commitment to telephone dominance been going on for decades in the auto industry?

Yes and yes.

Of course, this begs the question: Given that most salespeople still “stink” on the phones even after decades of expensive phone training, shouldn’t we try something new?

Your Sales Managers have the Secret Sauce

Here’s a novel idea: Why don’t your sales managers train your salespeople how to dominate on the phones? At the very least, why don’t they reinforce the expensive training you’re already paying for?

You see, sales managers hold the keys to your success on the phones; they are the proverbial secret sauce.

But, Steve; my sales managers tell me they’re too busy desking deals to also manage how we do on the phones!

Why? Aren’t your sales flat-to-down? If so, shouldn’t they have more time now than they did this time last year? Managers will always tell you they’re too busy – and they may very well be “busy.” You see, disorganized managers never have enough time.

By “disorganized” I merely meant they’re not enforcing strict written processes, they’re not letting technology do the heavy lifting, and they’re not holding salespeople accountable to the activities we’ve all agreed are critical to success. Because of this, managers are always “busy” loading lips, presenting multiple pencils, taking turns, fighting for gross, and recruiting/hiring new salespeople.

They’re busy with all of this other stuff precisely because they don’t live by rules, processes, and accountability. Additionally, they’re not “living” in the CRM. You see, living by process and living in the CRM frees up an amazing amount of time for the average sales manager. Time they could perhaps use to train and lead their salespeople.

The Lack of Progress should be Maddening!

The paradigm with respect to ongoing sales training has to shift at the dealer level. What dealerships are asking for from outside trainers – for example, to teach individual salespeople how to answer the phones – should be driving owners and dealer group executives crazy.

In every other industry, this is the job of the sales managers. For dealers, all the Stuker Tapes, Joe Verde CDs and Cardone Online Videos aren’t going to make your team any better on the phones until your sales managers clear their schedules of busy work and start working on sustainable skillset improvements with their subordinates.

Personally, I would much rather be consulting with dealers on how to improve processes to accommodate self-desking, or to become an “Our Price” store, or figure out online F&I and digital retailing. These represent our future growth and they’re here now; but most dealers just want me to teach their salespeople how to answer the phones.

By the way, that’s why I put my video sales training online for anyone to use at no charge. Dealers are better off grabbing basic training content for free and using their training budgets to pay for someone to help them create truly great buying experiences – online and offline.

… Or, they could use those budgets to pay for bus stop billboards – at least that way they can see their investment working as designed.

Good selling!