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Automotive Phone Training – Traditional vs. Progressive

When is the last time your dealership had a progressive training solution?

Is your dealership handling phone calls just like the “guy” down the street?

For generations automotive professionals have been provided automotive phone training with traditional ways of handling phone calls.  These traditional methods result in sales people handling objections the using the same terminology.  Imagine spending $10,000 on a campaign (mailer, email blast, newspaper, special finance, etc.) and it fails because the call handlers (BDC, Sales People) in the dealership are not properly prepared.  In fact they get thrown in to handle the calls but since they are not trained and the campaign is not discussed they continue to practice telling the customer that “price is the easiest part of my job” or “we deal with over 20 different banks so we can get you approved”.  If they are at least properly trained to ask for the appointment they say, “when can you come in, now or later today?”

Now a customer calls in on a mail piece and has common sense questions about how much money down is needed to get this advertised lease price it just so happens that untrained or traditionally trained sales professionals try to avoid the question instead of just telling the customer what it is.  If the customer in return asks about what it would be with $0 down typically there it becomes an objection that cannot be handled because traditional training teaches automotive professionals to avoid price.  Some of the most successful dealerships respect and understand the fact that consumers can get information and pricing everywhere which means that they empower their people to give proper information while engaging the prospect in order to generate the appointment.  Consumers will gladly do business with straightforward dealers that make the car shopping process simpler.  When it is said, “if we give information they will just call someone else” it is true statement but the fact is they will still call someone else and shop.  The dealer that wins will sometimes be the one who offers the best deal and sometimes the dealer that handles objections better or gives proper information will win the opportunity.

The bottom line is that it is all about building trust through transparency.  It is interesting to see how many people in dealerships always say how “we have over 400 cars stock so price is never an issue” or “we are the biggest selling dealer in the area and we did not get there by being the most expensive”.  The best way to really understand this common problem is to spend one hour mystery shopping various dealers across one market and see how many of them are making the same mistakes or even saying similar things.  After analyzing many phone calls all over the country we at Dealer eTraining believe that call handlers need to have numerous ways to overcome objections and be trained in understanding what the customer is looking for.  The most important aspect of being prepared for a campaign or any situation is communication and training.

Think about it when making a huge investment in something the natural thing is to prepare for the outcome that it brings.  So why are we sending mailers and running newspaper ads without preparing our people to handle those calls? Why do BDC reps come into work on a Friday morning, take a phone up and have no clue what the customer is talking about? What if that campaign is unsuccessful and the one mishandled call was the only opportunity that came in through the phone?  I encourage all dealers and general managers to improve communication and training efforts in the dealership so that profit leaks can be better monitored.

Views: 209

Tags: automotive bdc, automotive internet sales, automotive phone skills training, automotive phone training, bdc training, dealer etraining, dealer straining, stan sher


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Comment by Stan Sher on December 6, 2013 at 8:50am

Jamie being that you work for a competitor I would say that you have your own hidden agenda with your response.  I welcome it because we are after all in a free country.  I agree that no one comes in paying exactly what was discussed on the phone.  However, people do have questions and they need to be answered.  It is not about selling cars at a lower profit at all.

My examples are from real world dealership experiences in the Northeast with the most affluent, picky, and sometimes difficult consumers in the country.  My experiences with everything that I just wrote out here easily allowed myself and many people I have worked with run successful dealerships also at $2700 (and sometimes over $3000) a copy.  The "dinosaur" as you like to call it in this case is one (not mentioning any names) that regurgitates other trainers before them using the same exact word tracks that they were taught in the old days without progressively updating and creating new new ideas to bring to the table.

Manny, I agree with you that "any training is better then no training at all". There are different styles, methods, and flavors.  There is a reason why Baskin Robins has 31 flavors because it allows for variety and progressive outside the box change.  Bottom line is there is more then one way to skin a cat.  In this case, we believe that there is more then one way to ask questions on the phone as well as handle objections.  This is clearly my own view and my own experience talking.

Comment by Jaime Poulin on December 6, 2013 at 7:11am


  Great Post. For years I ran a very successful Chevrolet Dealership. Our hook was to sell em at 500 under invoice and we did very well. We did not average 2700 on the front but we were constantly around 2k.

   Great management and process absolutely sells cars with gross.  Well Said.


Comment by Jaime Poulin on December 6, 2013 at 5:31am


   What is ironic here is that in your attempt to paint yourself as a "progressive" trainer, you actually come off as a bit of a dinosaur.

   I am all for transparency. But I also understand that in today's competitive environment, it is the customer experience above all else that motivates where a customer will spend their dollars.

   If you actually advise your dealer clients to give a low price you won't have clients for long. BDC Reps and salespeople absolutely have to answer the questions that consumers are asking. My experience, which is considerable, tells me that the vast majority of people who are calling are not asking for a "best" price. This is particularly true when you have a well trained staff that reverses control of the conversation by asking fluid, instinctual qualifying questions that demonstrate an interest in the customers needs. Traditionally, it is not the customer that makes it about price, it is the salesperson.

   The company that I work for is extremely successful. We have hundreds of clients that use both our on site training workshops and our ongoing coaching tools. Amazingly, the vast majority have stayed with us for years. We train them to offer the customer a superior experience without having to go down the road to price.

  Even your example regarding the no money down lease question is poor. Every single dealer I have trained, and my own personal experience as a 27 year Retail Automotive Professional tell me that NO ONE ever comes in and leases a vehicle exactly the way it is offered and it is not in the customer or the dealers best interest to make the conversation about money prior to proper vehicle selection and demonstration.

   Yes, there is a percentage of customers that only make their decision based on price. And yes, price is important. I know this is true because I buy things and price is important to me. But training is about preparing our sales reps for the majority of their interactions with customers, not the minority. Your blog supposes that the majority if customers are price and price only driven. Sad really, you should re think the message you want to send a dealer that is considering hiring you.

   Lastly, I question whether this blog was written with the intention of helping dealers or if it was a very thinly veiled attempt to throw stones at a competitor. Regardless of your intention, read your article again and decide if YOU would take your advice.


Comment by Stan Sher on December 3, 2013 at 6:55pm

William, very nicely said.  You are right.  In fact, it may not hurt to start combining these processes with social media.

Comment by William Finsilver on December 3, 2013 at 7:31am
Many dealers have yet to realize that "transparency" is a USP and those that have are building an engaged and loyal client base that will soon become their social marketing tsunami and wash all the other competitors out to sea.

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