Better Call Handling Means More Cars Sold

In a 2014 report entitled “Innovating Automotive Retail,” renowned analysts McKinsey & Company reported that “the number of customer visits to a dealer before the purchasing decision is made has tumbled: dealers often get just one chance to strike lucky.” Fortunately, a new approach to training call handlers increases appointments-to-calls ratio and brings in more prospects.

Savvy dealers know that even in this Internet-everywhere era, 85% of auto sales still begin with a prospect calling a dealership. That’s good news, because data indicates that car shoppers who call a dealership typically purchase a car in 3-5 days. That small window of opportunity means call handlers’ performance is a crucial link in the sales process. For far too many dealers, however, it is the weakest link.

If you want to consistently convert callers to customers, your phone team needs to perform as effectively as possible on every single call. An effective call handler knows the key steps in every successful call: establishing rapport, assessing the caller’s needs, gathering contact information, setting the appointment and ending the call on a positive note.

When call handlers lack the necessary skills, valuable advertising dollars are wasted and dealerships lose a lot of potential revenue. That’s why you need to do more than just track calls. The higher ROI comes from using those recorded calls to train call handlers. To do so, you need to add Telephone Performance Analysis® (TPA) to the mix to ensure that every one of your call handlers effectively manages potential sales opportunities.

In a top TPA system, the vendor’s trained analysts review a sampling of recorded calls and develop a report card of each call handler’s telephone performance. Analysts review such metrics as establishing rapport, qualifying callers, exchanging information, and setting the appointment. Individual performance is compared to industry benchmarks, and performance trends tracked and reported to management. This allows individual employees to benefit from personalized, additional training that results in an improved conversion rate.

Once training needs are identified, it’s important to measure the training’s impact . Even when professional sales trainers are brought in, students forget up to 80% of what they learned in class within 30 days. That’s why the most successful TPA systems draw on neuroscience, motivation theory and gamification (the use of game thinking and game mechanics) to engage users and help them learn effectively.

A superior TPA system will offer several training choices, including:

  • Onsite and online learning from industry experts
  • Live webinars with interactive features
  • Animated scenarios offering game-like instruction
  • Best practice techniques using role play and actual calls

Our research indicates that the average rate at which phone handlers set dealership appointments is 7.8 percent. With a TPA system, it’s possible to improve phone handlers’ skills and efficiency by 20% or more, which can raise the appointment setting rate to nearly 15 percent. With the average dealer profit at $2,200 per vehicle, it’s obvious that setting even a few more appointments each week can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to annual profits.

There’s an old adage that “it’s better to be lucky than good,” but if you have just one chance to book an appointment to sell a car, it’s better to be well-trained than lucky.