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So, I had yet another in a long series of epiphanies regarding the business I love as I continue to get older and more exposed to the wise….
Ask most anyone….you will hear that the better the sales representative, the worse they are at handling inbound and outbound calls effectively. And some degree that may be true!
We have heard great reasoning from all the ‘experts’, (yes, including me!)….Sales people have different skill sets; they are ‘influencers’; they use their body language, eye contact to read and lead the customers; they try to sell the car on the phone and not the appointment; they are ‘over-qualified’ to take calls; their personality traits that make them good at sales, make them bad at phone communication; they have A.D.D.; can’t follow process…the list goes on and on.
But how can it be that the very people we trust to give our customers a great experience, that the same sales rep that has a better score on DealerRater than 95 of the dealerships in the country, the very people on whom our success or failure depends are dangerous with a phone in their hands?
I had the pleasure of being introduced to the sales team at a large 7 roof-top group last week by the President of the group. My mission was to share the best practices for Phone Process that we have measured around the country. In his introduction to his sales people he started by apologizing to each and every one. He begged forgiveness for our industry spending so many years making certain they were unable to handle the phone, and then reminding them regularly that they are inept. “I ask your forgiveness for training you to fail, and then blaming you for that failure” ….really???
He went on to outline the methods of failure that they have been taught…. “Don’t give price on the phone”; “Never bring up the trade-in”; “Tell them their presence in the dealership is their best leverage for the best deal”; “Get their name and number and call them back”….. He said “We have taught you to be evasive, provide as little information as you can get away with…we asked you to treat people in ways your mother won’t let you, and when you did it badly, we told you that you suck at this!”. Further, he described the industry wide move to hiring people that had not been poisoned yet, to man the phones for us and protect us from ourselves… often at considerable expense.
Mr. Tony Gomez, President of the LuJack Automotive Group, went on to advise this group of veterans and freshmen that the only thing that they can count on staying the same, is need to be ready to change, and that “today is one of those days…we are going to change”.
The session that followed was by far the most fun and impactful sharing session I have ever experienced. Tony created an atmosphere I never have….40 Sales Pros, interactive, open minded, guilt free, and eager to learn how to use their unique skills and personalities to improve their performance and their value to their customers.
Take a Fresh Look- Its not One Size Fits All for sure!
Certainly Call Centers and BDC's will have their place in certain cultures, but is it time to consider refocusing on the support of the very team we rely on for our successes, and get them the training they deserve? Dealers that have perfected the 'cradle to grave' process have less Sales Comp on their Financial Statements, less turn over in sales, and are less at risk of the "Virtual Dealership to Bricks and Mortar" train wreck.
Most Luxury Dealers have long served the demands of their customers by maintaining the integrity of the Phone to Floor process with their 'Client Advisors'. Its a model worth re-evaluating.
Even with a BDC or Call Center, too often we forget that our Sales Professionals are taking and making calls every day....what support do they need from us to make the "Caller's Journey" a great one?