Free Inbound Sales Call Cheat Sheet and Assessment for Car Dealers
If you’re just here to access the free assessment page for use in your dealership, you can click here: Free Car Dealer Call Monitoring Cheat Sheet.
If you’re interested in what each area involves and why these are the important areas to grade on your sales teams’ inbound sales calls, then read on.
Appointments First, Last, and Always
Yes, a tiny percentage of buyers want to buy fully online – we’re not going to stop them from doing this if we first focus on setting an appointment that shows.
Yes, some buyers still need a little more information before they’re ready to schedule their test drive or in-person appraisal – we’re not going to stop them from getting their questions answered if we first focus on setting an appointment that shows.
This car dealer phone call cheat sheet is designed to help you grade your team’s ability to manage inbound sales inquiries while ensuring they stay focused on the primary goal of every call: setting an appointment that shows.
Not the Goal
There are few things that are not the goal of these calls; though, unfortunately many old-school phone trainers and training companies will have you making these steps priorities in your team’s call handling. For example:
The goal is not to build rapport! While it would be nice if we built great rapport during the call, that is simply not the goal. The best salespeople and BDC agents in the country – those who set real appointments that show and buy – don’t waste their time trying to build phony rapport. They simply move the prospect through to the next step that 90% of buyers say is the most important: the demo drive. (Yes, they often tend to build some rapport along the way, but only because they’re sincerely helping these prospects buy a vehicle with limited hassles.)
The goal is not to gather information! Certainly, after we set the appointment (or fail to set the appointment) we will gather the prospect’s name, email, and phone number. However, this is not the primary goal. Setting an appointment, by the way, gives us “permission” to ask for this information.
Additionally, unless the buyer volunteers information about their trade, current payments, etc., we shouldn’t be trying to gather this over the phone. While it would be great to know all this (and more) before they arrive for their appointment, the fact is that you will set fewer appointments that show when the phone call feels like an interrogation to the prospect.
The goal is not to conduct a Needs Analysis! Speaking of interrogations! While the old-school Needs Analysis can still have some value on the sales floor, this is never our goal on the phone. Certainly, if we fail to set an appointment because the customer still does not know what they want, then asking them about likes/dislikes and alternate choices is warranted. However, too many old-school training companies still include these unhelpful steps in the Phone Up Cards they’ve sold you. (Throw those out – they are costing you deals!)
The goal is not to qualify the buyer over the phone! For the sake of all things holy, can we stop trying to qualify prospects before they arrive? If there’s one thing that kills more deals than it creates, it’s salespeople who take Phone Ups, then proceed to try to “build perfect deals” or “sniff out the tire kickers” before they’re willing to invite the prospect in for a test drive.
We all know that magic happens when you get a warm butt in the seat in front of you. Over the phone the prospect told you how unqualified they were, yet when they arrived, we found a way to get the deal done. (If you have salespeople who cannot stop qualifying over the phone, it’s time to remove them from your Phone Up rotation.)
The goal is to set an appointment that shows. Period. End of story.
The Cheat Sheet for Call Monitoring
There are twelve questions on the call monitoring cheat sheet for automotive sales managers, and there are reasons each question is important to ensuring great results from your inbound sales calls. Use the guide below to help you understand the goal for each question and how to grade it:
Question 1: Was the salesperson/BDC agent confident and professional?
Callers are looking for help buying a car, and they don’t want to deal with an incompetent non-professional. It’s important that those answering your phones speak confidently and professionally.
Question 2: Did the salesperson/BDC agent sound genuinely happy?
Consumers have too many choices today, and those calling your dealership do not want to deal with negativity or someone’s bad mood. Moreover, when your salesperson or BDC agent sounds genuinely happy on the phone, they put the buyer at ease and build the buyer’s belief that your dealership is where they want to purchase their next vehicle.
Question 3: Were they authentic and helpful?
Nearly all Phone Up prospects have already found value in your vehicle and they believe it fits their needs. By calling you in advance, they want to be sure the vehicle is in stock and that they’re dealing with someone authentic. Authenticity is simply being yourself and speaking directly, while building trust with the buyer.
Of course, this question has two parts, and the second part is just as important as the first. Was your salesperson or BDC agent genuinely helpful? That is, did they move the buyer to the next step in the process, or did they make calling your dealership a drag for the prospect?
Question 4: Did they stay in control of the call?
Today’s buyers – whether on the lot or on the phone – want your team to take charge. They’re calling because they want help, but your team cannot help them if the salesperson or BDC agent loses control of the call. Like the first three questions on this grading sheet, this one is subjective; but you should know your team well enough to answer these with confidence.
Question 5: Did they use an Appointment-First Approach?
Your salesperson or BDC agent gets two points for a YES on this one because the Appointment-First Approach is critical to successfully setting more appointments that show and buy than anything else they can say on the phone.
The Appointment-First Approach simply means that once they know what the prospect wants, they move to an Appointment-First Approach (often before they even know the prospect’s name). If you or your team don’t know what an Appointment-First Approach sounds like, here’s a free video series covering Appointment-Driven Communications.
Question 6: Did they adequately address the customer’s questions or objections?
If your team uses an Appointment-First Approach, about half of your callers will have no questions beyond their original “Is it in stock” (or similar) question. For this one, you’re going to award one point for a YES or an N/A (because, if they have no questions to address, your team deserves the point).
Question 7: Did they secure an appointment?
A YES on this one is worth five points for all the obvious reasons.
Question 8: For which day was the appointment set?
When your team uses an Appointment-First Approach, most of their appointments will be set for today or tomorrow. That’s great news because these appointments are more likely to show than something set for five days from today. The scoring on this one awards more points for same-day appointments, and gradually fewer points for those appointments set for tomorrow and beyond.
Question 9: Did they avoid asking any version of these questions? “Do you have any questions?”, “Do you need any other information?”, or “When would you like to come in?”
The reason for ensuring your team avoids these weak questions is simple: these and similar questions create objections and/or remove all urgency from the purchase. They should strike these from their vocabulary.
Question 10: Did they gather the buyer’s contact information?
While information gathering is not the goal, we certainly need to do this once we’ve set an appointment or after it becomes clear we will not. That’s why this one is worth three points, though it’s the tenth question in our grading system because it should never be the primary goal.
Question 11: If they failed to set an appointment, did they pivot to a proper Needs Analysis?
For most callers, your team will set an appointment when they use the Appointment-First Approach. For the others, they may need to conduct a Needs Analysis to uncover real objections, to help the prospect land on a true vehicle of interest, or to learn everything they need to know to sell this prospect.
Question 12: If no appointment, did they at least schedule a follow-up with the prospect?
A prospect in limbo is a terrible thing. Therefore, it’s important for those few prospects who will not agree to an appointment, that we schedule some follow-up activity with them. This could simply be an “I’ll call you next week to check in.”
Final Thoughts on Call Monitoring
Properly monitoring your team’s calls is not hard, though it does take work. Of course, it doesn’t have to consume an entire day.
When I’m asked to help a dealership or group improve their phone skills, I don’t listen to every call. Instead, I start with the calls lasting eleven minutes or more, as these are often the worst.
Long calls are often an indication of a lack of control and poor appointment-setting skills. Usually, these calls uncover the most opportunity for improvement for the dealership, while almost always scoring below 10 out of 25 on our Free Car Dealer Call Monitoring Cheat Sheet.