by Ted Schuler

Last time, we spoke about the beginning of the Inbound Sales Call, or the Phone Up at your dealership. We concluded that this is how we should answer the calls:


Now our question is , “Why does it seem so hard to do it right?” We have new guys and 30 year veterans that cannot seem to grasp the idea that a Phone Up is a golden opportunity for a sale. Golden. Especially in this technological age. These opportunities should be much more preferred over the walk in customer because they have already spoken with us on the phone up. They also know you have the vehicle and they have someone to ask for when they get here after their call, which eliminates the fear of visiting your store. These are 2 very important accomplishments that can tend to keep customers from walking into your dealership if not achieved. But when asked to handle them correctly, our people have a tendency to panic, freeze and even revert back to old school techniques that have not worked in 30 years if ever.

Here’s an example:

Ring. Ring.
SALES: “Sales” (Caller wondering, “Who am I speaking with?”)
CALLER: “Do you guys still have that 2010 – F150 that I saw online?”
SALES: “Is it the white one?” (Sales trying to impress the caller with his inventory knowledge off the top o f his head, but this can hurt him in the long run.)
CALLER: Yep. That’s the one, with the Crew Cab. Ya go it?”
SALES: “I think it might have gotten sold last night. (STOP!!!! Never tell them that as the first thing out of your mouth. They literally no longer needs you now. You answered their question. Bye, bye.)

But let me run out and put my hands on it and call you back. Is this your number number here, 602-555-1478?” (Using Caller ID is becoming so popular with salespeople who do not want to make the extra effort to do it right. I guarantee there are still thousands of customers out there that really do not want a car dealer to have their info just yet. We need to earn it!)

CALLER: “Yea but I don’t want you using that number. I’ll just call you back. How long will it take?”
SALES: “About 5 minutes.”
Etc, Etc. CALL OVER.

What just happened here? Well, we just let a very hot and eager prospect get away. We had her and we lost her. Yes she says she will call us back but can we run our sales department on customer promises? I wouldn’t.

Here are some other possibilities that could result from using the above “put my hands on it” technique. You will notice this premise here is to gain a number and name, by hanging up to check on it and then call them back. “Put our hands on it.” “Go touch it.” “Run out to the lot.” “Ask a manager.” “Do a physical.” And when you think about it, these are all great reasons to let a customer get away. Then what? We hang up. Why do we not want to do that?

Possible results of hanging up without an appointment:

  • They won’t give us their information (like above).

  • They give us the wrong information, (sometimes intentionally).

  • We forget to call them back (a “real” customer walks in and we spend the next 4 hours with them and never do call back).

  • The vehicle is gone so why bother to call back. (I guess that was the only car in the world that this customer would buy and since it it sold, she is out of the market forever, right?)

  • We do call back and get a voice mail because the caller didn’t sit and wait for us to call back. They just continued shopping and found a real salesperson elsewhere and are on their way to see him or her.

  • Or the worst possible case: We get a hold of them and have to tell them everything about that one truck if it is here and hope this brings them in.

We talked about making this process simple. No script memorization. No 30 year old car-guy tricks just to get them here. i.e.“To the best of my knowledge, that vehicle is still here.” There is never a good reason to lie to a potential customer. The negative repercussions are just not worth a bad deal. Our reputation in this industry is already shaky at best. No need to enforce the negative impressions by lying just to get them in the door.

What has to happen is our people need a behavioral change. Let’s give them a purpose for each call they take. It can be so simple: We will be answering each of these sales calls with a purpose and that is, “Let me be an advocate for them. Let me help these folks find and buy the right vehicle.” PERIOD! No tricks, no lies. Just customer assistance. What a concept.

Instill this thought process:


Next Time

Our next article will discuss going for the appointment on the first call without hanging up and losing the prospect. See you then.

Ted Schuler has been in the auto business in sales, management, training and consulting around the world for over 30 years. Marcom Technologies pioneered recording-based sales training in the late 80’s and has continued to develop progressive training techniques to align with today’s ever-changing industry.