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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?

Consider this:

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.

Tags: calls, digital, internet, phone, social

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The phone continues to increase as the chosen response by website visitors, and the use of Lead Forms for submitting inquiries continues to decline... How dealership staff handles their phone calls continues to grow in significance and impact on the dealer's sales and service business revenue.

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.



You are right on , Tim. For 10 years, I have provided phone calls from our classified magazine (Autofocus) and emails from our network ( Automotive network). Taking the call properly, and sourcing the call correctly is and has been the biggest barrier to assessing the value my products bring to the table. 6 years ago, the phone rang so much, the salespeople took it for granted. Now, a lot of my customers are more concerned with how many emails they recieved, which, to me is nothing compared to a phone call. A phone call is gold.





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...

So much is directed at making the phone ring, but that is where tge disconnect come in. The receptionist is the face and voice of the dealership. If they are not trained and given an outline/script to answer the phone properly, customers get annoyed. I have listened to thousands of phone calls, sometimes I cringe when I hear a fumbled transfer or a guest on hold for way too long.
We have to remember that every call is important.



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.


These stats are evidence of a more systemic management problem.  Whether its the phone, email, Social networks, texting, mobile or any other form of communication, if you don't follow up on leads you don't sell.  Case in point: we've obtained 92 leads for one former client and 51 leads for another former client, both through their respective Facebook pages.  How many of those leads do you think they followed up on?  Not even one. I'm a former GM/Exec Mgr. and my hope is that strong leadership will emerge and this issue will be non-existent in the very near future (Hey, a girl can dream right?)

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.   

Remember the horror stories dealing with response times, customers only getting automated responses, etc.?  It's sad but nothing has really changed.  We have been in the Internet business for a decade and the majority of dealers still don't get it.  Why should anyone be surprised that the phone isn't being answered?  I've listened to calls and wished the phone wasn't answered. Most people that visit this site have a passion for the Internet.  Let the rest live in their ignorance.
As a BDC Manager, I see first hand the discrepancy in results when calls are managed by a dedicated staff vs the sales dept. Unfortunately, my dept is understaffed AND we have an antiquated phone system. Our unique, trackable ph#s are directed to specific BDRs; unfortunately, when that BDR is on a call, our phones can't be round-robined to an available BDR, the call is transferred to the receptionist who gives the call to a sales rep. Results at the end of the month consistently shows an appt setting % of 79% for our BDRs vs 22% for sales.
Your dealership would pay for a new Phone System in a month!


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