Phone calls are on the rise – whether it’s because of the proliferation of smartphones and their easy call-to-talk functionality or because car buyers have grown weary of online lead forms – studies show that call volume is now outpacing Internet leads by 4-1. The message is clear: consumers want the immediate gratification of a phone call – but, sadly, at least 40% of those callers aren’t getting any kind of gratification when dialing a typical dealership. A situation that is costing dealerships as much as $44,000 in lost revenues every month!
Instead of converting these calls into showroom appointments, many call handlers drop the ball – resulting in customer defection to another brand and/or dealership at least 50% of the time, according to our studies in conjunction with R.L. Polk. Think about it – you spend thousands in marketing dollars to attract car buyers to your dealership, doesn’t it make sense to monitor and make sure that employees handling the incoming calls are as effective as they can be?
Giving good phone?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Which call handlers are on phone duty today?
- Are they the least experienced call handlers you have?
- Has everyone on your team been trained to effectively handle inbound phone leads?
- If they’ve been trained, how are you monitoring their effectiveness?
- Do you have consistent phone skills training for all new car sales associates?
Interestingly, a lot of time is spent bemoaning how dealers mishandle Internet leads – with the assumption that phone leads are under control. Today’s Millenial salespeople –digital natives – and the other poorly trained phone handlers answering inbound calls are less familiar with phone interactions than anyone you hired a decade ago.
Based on our analytics and the general lack of consistent training in dealerships, phone handlers are only converting 7% of callers into showroom appointments. With a typical gross profit of around $2,200 per car sold (front and back end). That is a lot of money left on the table. An average-size dealership could easily lose up to 20 sales every month, which translates into a sobering loss of $44,000 in revenue per month or over ½ a million dollars per year. That doesn’t have to be the case.
Monitoring your phone call handlers can help you improve their performance and eliminate the most common reasons inbound prospect calls are lost:
- Rude/unprofessional exchange
- Phone handler’s lack of inventory knowledge
- No ‘needs’ analysis, so no alternative vehicle is offered
- Caller’s question is answered, but phone handler fails to set appointment
- Customer’s contact information is not requested/recorded
- Phone handler lacks information, so asks the prospect to call back
- Salesperson unavailable
Recapturing Mishandled Calls
Focusing on minimizing lost calls is critical, but so is having a plan in place to recapture them. Knowing exactly what went wrong on the call gives you the best ammunition for recapturing that customer. This information is invaluable to actively re-engage the customer. Many dealerships are incorporating safety nets into their process in order to start saving the 93% of mishandled sales calls. The ability to have Alerts sent to a Phone Sales champion when a call is mishandled and the appointment is not set is helping dealers set more appointments and sell more cars and trucks. In a recent analysis of over 600 US dealers, closing ratios with DealSaver were as high as 25% – versus the industry average of 7% – translating to an average of $320K gross for the dealership.
Both dealerships and OEMs pour billions of marketing dollars into getting consumers to pick up the phone – don’t waste that spend by ignoring how those calls are being handled.
By Andrew Price
Andrew Price is President of CallSource Automotive, the leader in call tracking, management and training. He leads a national team of business analysts and salespeople helping auto dealers, CRMs and OEMs increase profitability. Andrew spent nearly 14 years at R.L. Polk, where he served as the Vice President of Sales and Client Services and he has presented at a variety of industry conferences including NADA, Digital Dealer and J.D. Power Roundtables.