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The first step in advancing the productivity of your staff in using the phones is a better understanding in the importance that the telephone can play and how it affects your business. Often a lack of the right attitude is displayed in the treatment towards the receptionist position. The receptionist is usually hired without any guidelines that would be used to hire for an important position. In your dealership do you have personality profiles, set interview questions and guidelines to hire an exceptional receptionist? Do you have a formalized training process and performance based pay? Often the receptionist is the lowest paid person in the dealership but is often the person who influences the customer first. Why not pay the receptionist a bonus based upon various criteria such as average time to answer a call, average hold time for a customer etc.
The sales people also need training on the understanding of the importance of both inbound and outbound sales calls and how this can affect their incomes. A sales person can sit around all day waiting for someone to come in, but they can take incoming sales calls and treat them like they are not important. The average dealership will spend a fortune on advertising to get people to call and come in but not pay attention to what is happening when the customers call or come in. Call a competitor or call your own dealership and mystery shop a few times and ask yourself if you are impressed with the results.
Let’s talk about a few things to improve the importance of sales performance in utilizing the phone. First of all, the dealership needs a formal call tracking process. Many dealerships know their floor traffic but not their phone traffic. Why? This sends the wrong message. You must quantify to qualify, meaning you must know where you are at to understand where you would like to go. Have the receptionist use a call tracking sheet that they are trained to use. Example: On an incoming sales call, the receptionist should positively remark that they will be happy to get a sales representative for the customer and then acquire the customers name by asking “and your name is?” The receptionist can then list the customers name on the log with the date and time received and page for a sales representative. Now the receptionist can write their name on the tracking sheet as well. The sales representative is responsible for putting remarks of the results on the log after the sale. The above process can be altered according to the technology you have established in your dealership. Managers can now include a review of the phone traffic in their daily one on one coaching sessions.
Sales people must have a formal tracking sheet they use when taking calls to assist them in remembering the right steps and collecting the information necessary. The first step in changing the view of a sales person towards the phone is to show them how easy it is to pick up several units each month just by having better phone skills. The Internet has increased the number of sale calls and the quality of customer calling.
Sales people must be taught new techniques that match the marketplace of today. Sales people have been taught the importance of getting name and number so much so that they are jeopardizing the appointment and scaring customers away. Gone are the days of telling the customer you are out in service and not at your desk so you would like to get their name and number and call them back or that the customer just needs to come on down so you can show them in person. Customers are looking for ways to dismiss you as an option and outdated phone skills will make that happen quickly.
Review the telephone operations in your dealership and take steps to increase the skills of everyone using the phone. Better phone process and skills uncover hidden wealth.