Stop Playing Broken Telephone And Make More Sales

Today’s car shoppers lead busy lives, with less time than ever for visiting dealerships. The Internet makes it easy to do pre-purchase research, but 85% of people ready to buy cars still pick up the phone and call dealerships. Historically, data showed that car shoppers who called a dealership typically purchased a car in 7-10 days. Our recent research (conducted with an OEM) indicates that this critical window of opportunity has shrunk to just 3-5 days.

That tight window makes phone handlers a crucial link in the sales process, yet for too many dealers it is the weakest link. High turnover impacts call handling performance making it impossible to maximize every prospect call. Sadly, this fact is built into the business model in many dealerships today. Our data shows that the industry’s average call to appointment ratio hovers around 7 percent. Highly skilled phone handlers convert callers to appointments at nearly 30 percent. Imagine the impact of a 20 percent increase in phone conversions at your enterprise.

In analyzing the outcomes of more than 2,000,000 inbound prospect calls, the most common call handling mistakes are:

  • Not listening attentively to callers or asking about callers’ vehicle needs
  • Not keeping the caller engaged for at least five minutes
  • Not suggesting alternative vehicle choices
  • Not asking for an appointment at least twice during the call

A systematic approach to improve call handlers’ performance should include call tracking, DMS, CRM and other proven tools to create a comprehensive system. Uniting all these measurements into one process allows dealerships to:

  • Generate more leads per marketing dollar
  • Get more appointments per phone leads
  • Improve sales management and performance
  • Measure the real time telephone skills of your phone handlers
  • Provide ongoing training matched to each employee’s needs

Sales performance management is the evolution of call tracking. A good system starts with measurement, collecting and analyzing such important metrics as marketing cost per prospect, lead conversion rate and profit leakage. This transparency gives managers the information they need to make intelligent decisions, from marketing and lead generation to employee performance, call to appointment ratios and final sales. Objective reports quantify areas of potential improvement and motivate staff to own their performance and continually strive to improve it. The resulting increased accountability leads to better organizational performance.

A sales performance management system dramatically impacts training efforts. Custom sales training that meets the dealership’s needs analyzes individual phone handlers’ performance. Once individual employees’ training needs are identified, just in time online coaching and training technology help training transfer and improve call handlers’ call to appointment and appointment to sales ratios. New employees are onboarded immediately without waiting for expensive 3-day onsite training.

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

Andrew Price is president of the CallSource Automotive division. CallSource is the inventor of call-tracking and developer of the patented Sales Performance Management (SPM) system. How effective is your phone lead management system? For a complimentary Call Readiness Assessment of your dealership email Andrew at or call 888-755-0101.