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With the next Digital Dealer Conference promising to be chock full of the latest in Digital and Social Marketing strategies, I can’t help but ponder the obvious. We are learning great new ways to drive traffic to our dealerships with the commitment that the buying experience will be extraordinary. And the good news is its working! For too many of us, the bad news is the same…..its working.
With the application of the best in market strategies we are now driving phone traffic in a 7 to 1 ratio over internet leads. Why can that be bad news?
In measuring millions of calls, on the average, nearly 1 in 4, yes almost 25% of our sales calls result in the caller not connecting with a sales consultant! On hold hang ups, and blind transfers to Voice Mail have become by far the biggest profit leak for many dealers.
The newest technologies are creating a bottle neck in the oldest technology in the dealership. In the struggle to control costs many dealers have created complicated Phone Trees and short staffed the reception process and the call handlers in our profit centers.
Of course, we need to stay focused on what happens when the call connects....train for the most effective appointment set processes and create a great experience, as promised in our marketing. But first we need to consider our "Callers Journey". Nearly 100% of our customers will start with us on the phone, and 100% will interact with us on the phone after becoming a customer. This journey will drive our retention and define our "personality".
The expense of creating a great experience with 100% human contact at reception and the profit centers will have lasting R.O.I., and separate us from our competition.
What you say is sadly true. In my role of help dealers learn how to convert more opportunity from in-market shoppers I listen to calls monthly from dozens of Dealers large and small. I see the reports. 25-30 % of the calls are less than 2 minutes. Why ? ...all the above...on-hold, no one came back to the call, went into VM,the receptionist is new or been there since 1984.
A call, chat, text, email or lot visit (50% will just show up with no previous contact) is lower funnel activity. These folks have been on-line on average of 25-30 days and up to 15 hours on-line gathering information to help them make the best buying decision for them. They ain't shoppin ....they are in BUY mode!!! This should create a HUGE sense of urgency for anyone in the sales process at the Dealership.
Sadly, Dealers slow to change let these calls "walk" and the guy down the street who understands today's automotive consumer and the huge change in their buying habits will sell them their next car.
Although the "unanswered page" is certainly in play---it seems to more often be overloaded receptionists, phone trees, and understaffed profit centers at the core....and the dreaded cold transfer directly to Voice Mail is often the only way an overloaded receptionist can get the call out of the que.....and forgive me for this one, but in a non-BDC store where the calls go to the sales reps, too often a disconnect is the better option! The better the sales talent on the floor, the higher the risk. We see trained appointment setters setting 2 to 1 over the floor reps...
Agreed 1000%-- Receptionist, or Phone Tree/Auto Attendant, is the "Director of First Impressions" to quote my favorite Phone Skill trainer.
In my 10 years of calling dealerships to sell to and consult with them...I am amazed to this day at the amount of times the phone keeps ringing and ringing. I don't think it's because they've identified my phone # as a vendor...I just wonder how many very real sales calls do not connect and therefore reach out ot competing dealerships.
It's not only the fact most dealerships lack the resources to handle the volume of inbound (& outbound) calls, but the lack of skills required to convert shoppers into a buyer. Even if the sales reps did answer the phone, the majority of dealerships would still lose out on deals because of the turn over in their sales force and the fact that most sales people don't want to spend the majority of their day on the phone. It's a matter of focus - should I spend time on the phone and try to develop eventual business or the instant gratification of spending time on the lot getting that next up.
Most of our business comes from frustrated GM's tired of listening to their sales reps butcher their calls and losing sales opportunities to the competition that have a rock solid sales BDC (inhouse or outsourced) handling those calls for them.