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For Best Phone Performance, Train the Caller Too!


I'm prepping for a big strategy meeting with a dealer group. So I decide to verify my hunch that there is big opportunity in training the call handlers for better Appointment Set, CSI, Retention and all that good stuff. I decide to listen to a bunch of calls from some of the top performing dealerships in the country, to help identify the skill differences and training opportunities.


Then it hit me......How could I have missed this for so long?? 


The "Top Performers" were in many cases no more skilled than the average and below average call handlers in setting appointments. But, the callers were far better trained in these stores!


The best of the best in appointment conversion are converting callers who ask them if they can come in today! How hard is that??


In every case the majority of the calls were about a compelling message they had seen, heard, received in the mail or found on-line.The questions became about the message.... "How can I lease a car for $6 a day?", "You will give me price, payment and trade appraisal on the phone?", "Do I really get free service and oil changes for 36 months?", "How can you lower my payments on a new car?", "I really don't have to come there?, You will give me all the details on the phone?". In these dealerships the percentage of "Do you have", "What's your best price" and all the other questions designed to rule out the dealer are in the minority.


Average in-bound sales call appointment sets are under 25%, and these top performers are setting 65%+.


            2 Actual Dealer's August 2011 Results-  Message or Phone Skills??







The success rate of the top performers in the market seems to be directly related to the message the caller is reacting to, along with the training the call handlers have in keeping the excitement level high about the message.


So could the formula be:

1) Skilled BDC/Trained Call Handlers intimate with the message

2) Consistent, Compelling Message

3) "In market" audience

4) In PMA audience


= 70% Inbound Call to Appointment??


Obviously, we need to stay focused on the skills of the handler...but maybe its time to consider the power of training the caller?


Views: 425

Tags: Appointments, BDC, Calls, Marketing, Measure, Message, PMA, Phone


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Comment by Chip King on September 25, 2011 at 11:39am

Diane-- You are right on---being intimately engaged in the message the callers are responding to is not just drives the success of the call!

Interesting addendum---the very best in class dealer that we measure takes this one step further. They build several approaches or "scripts" (if that word doesn't give you a chill) around their marketing message---then measure each approach by appointments set. As they measure they narrow down till they reach the very best, and stick with that approach. Every day they review the questions they are getting and train in the best handling of the most common dialogue....results? 7 in 10 set and appointment... 7 in 10 show, and 6 in 10 buy...

Comment by Diane Anderson on September 25, 2011 at 11:33am
Great article! From a BDC Manager's perspective, let's not forget that the department needs to be informed about the current advertising message to adjust the way the calls are managed. Unfortunately' that does not always happen.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on September 25, 2011 at 10:56am
Chip, thank you for sharing the real-world metrics you showcase in this blog post... I would suggest that this is ample evidence that how a dealer creates messaging in their advertising, and what that messaging conveys is as important as how they handle their incoming phone calls... In fact, the data would seem to suggest that the way those calls are handled should be based on the messaging in the advertising that generated the call in the first place.
Comment by Chip King on September 25, 2011 at 10:29am
Thanks Tom--- as a dealer I learned that same painful lesson...$$$$$ in training was not the only answer....the skills are still critical, but I can now attest to the fact that Call Handlers of equal skill can vary in performance by 30%+ based on the "Caller's Training" concept...
Comment by Tom Gorham on September 25, 2011 at 10:04am
Chip, I love it.  It's irreverent but makes a point.  What messages are we sending customers that makes them call in the first place?  Before I started reading this article, I was thinking that no matter how many times we bring in phone trainers, our phone skills are still poor.  This adds another dimension that I think every dealer should consider.  Thank you!

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