“We answer the phones just fine.” This is a common insistence from management when you ask them of the proficiency of their phone handling.
And very often, they are right. They do answer the phones just fine. Not a single call goes to voicemail. All are picked up before a fourth ring. Salespeople run to the phones to grab that up. They answer the phones just fine. What they don’t do is handle the calls fine. This isn’t a lesson in semantics. This is a philosophical difference in how people view sales calls. While phone calls are being grabbed, the sales team is often not converting as many as they should to appointment. There are missteps in the phone call handling at most dealerships, not necessarily in the answering.
If Liam Neeson (“Liam Neesons” as Bill Playford and I refer to him) has taught me anything, beyond how to fight wolves, it’s that the content of the call… what you say on the phone… can have a lasting impact. It is how to be remembered. It’s usually the first and (often) last impression you can make. A single, solitary phone call will often determine if you get taken or if your team gets a second shot with that customer.
Before you assume your sales teams are doing their due diligence, you must know exactly what you are expecting of them. You must have a specific script in which you are holding them accountable to. They must have the fundamentals down before they are allowed to go “off-book”. Salespeople don’t get to play by their own rules until they’ve mastered the game. Make sure all people on your team have access to a script and, moreover, make sure it is an updated script. Don’t rely on phone handling tactics you learned 20 years ago. Times have changed.
If you don’t have an updated phone script, or a resource in which to put together your preferred sales call checklist of questions, you should make it a priority to build one. Even if it isn’t an official “script” you create, you better have a solid structure in which to hold your people accountable. If you are unable to, it is time for phone training. Don’t let your salespeople work with inferior tools, and certainly don’t let them operate with no clear guidance. A person who knows how to handle the phone well never has to take a walk-in up in their life. Make it a goal to train your people on the phones, train them on technology, Internet, sales, and customer service for that matter. Don’t cost yourself countless dollars by trusting that your people handle the phone successfully solely because “I haven’t heard any complaints”. You never hear complaints if you aren’t looking for them.
Phone skills are vital to a dealer’s success. An updated phone script, provided there is accountability in place to ensure it is utilized, can only enhance your success. Guaranteed. Remember, answering the phones and handling the calls are two different actions. Update your scripts, demand accountability to them, reinforce the stores goals, provide adequate training, listen to calls, and, by all means, be as dedicated to setting appointments as picking up the receiver.