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Phone Skills Remain Critical In An Era Of Digital Marketing And Online Leads

Dealerships cannot fail to strategize phone connections with customers and prospects, or to follow key rules. BY GRANT CARDONE

We all know about instantaneous connection of the planet via the Internet. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn – plus new streaming content like Meerkat (I am No. 9 in the world!) and Twitter’s Periscope (I am on their “star” list) command eyeballs at dealerships and their customers.

Yet, there remains one device more powerful and influential than any of these social media destinations or streaming apps for the dealership industry – the phone. It also has more clout than CRM, desking tools and even the Internet, and may outperform all of them combined.

Let me explain. Even after your customer performs an average of 600 minutes of online research, typically he or she still will pick up the phone to verify where your business is situated, if you have a desired make or model in stock, and if you will honor offer terms currently on your website or a competitor’s.

Even in this mega-digitized economy, in any career you still must learn how to use the phone effectively to reach the right person, close the sale, follow up with a customer, fill up your calendar, set an appointment or handle a customer’s questions. Show me a top performing salesperson and I will show you someone who knows how to use the phone to close. Show me a great manager and I will show you someone who knows how to teach others how to control the phone and keep their calendars full.

Phone Penetration Is Inescapable Reality

Here are a few interesting facts: 1) The planet is home to more cell phones than people, an estimated 7.8 billion devices; 2) The average person has his or her phone within 36 inches most of the day; 3) In the U.S. alone, nearly 1 trillion phone calls are made each year.

You spend more time with your phone than any other device, and most of the time it stays closer than your kids or your lover. The same holds true for your prospects and customers. The phone is money, and everyone has one. But to master it, you must learn techniques to control communication with others over a distance.

Before you dismiss this all as obvious, let me warn you that most salespeople never fully understand the phone’s power or how to use it to close sales. That lack of understanding is probably the single-biggest reason why 87% of all salespeople miss their quotas.

Now, do I have your attention?

Phone Works In Tandem With Online Research

Salesforce.com suggests that 92 percent of all customers continue to use their phones before making a purchase, and 85 percent are dissatisfied with the interactions. Once your dealership places ads on TV, radio, Google or social media. When your dealership starts buying ads on TV, radio, Google or social media, the phones are going to ring. If your people are good on the phone, then the doors are going to swing.

When your salespeople or other staff start taking these calls, they need to know the new rules of the game:

1) Answer the call before the second ring. No one wants to wait for service and no one wants to wait to spend money.

2) Greetings should be brief. “Thank you for calling. About what can I get you information?”

3) Answer all inquiries with “I am happy to” or “My pleasure.” Then, proceed to offer even more information as a way to qualify. This is a very smart and effective technique that we use in competitive industries such as insurance and service business. Feel free to call my office at (310) 777-0255 to get more information on this technique.

4) Offer texting data during the call. This has been shown to improve your appointment ratio multi-fold.

5) Have and know the scripts available for the five types of calls. (Yes, my firm has scripted all 32 types of phone calls your sales team or BDC will ever receive, with exact and scripted-out responses that can be printed or read from your CRM.

6) Teach your people how to lock in appointments and create urgency. They shouldn’t just ask for appointments.

Script Every Phone Interaction

And, all of this is just for incoming calls. Other skills are needed for your people to effectively follow up with sold and unsold customers by phone. Dealership managers MUST do a better job of transferring skills, providing salespeople with scripts and corrections during the day, and most importantly SHOWING them how to effectively use the phone.

If you are anything like me, you have been made to believe during your career that you couldn’t sell the company’s products or services by phone. Well, that may have been true once but not anymore. Given the choice of face-to-face interaction with the customer or phone communication, clearly I would prefer in-person. But some customers will never give you that chance.

Phone Skills3 Ways To Get More Mileage

Incoming calls and outbound follow-up calls represent your best opportunities to keep your appointments calendar full and hit your quota. Here are three tips to get more mileage from, and a dominant advantage on, the phone:

ŸTime is a killer. You cannot devote time to small talk and chatting with prospects. That’s the old-school mentality. You must get in and get out. You may only have 2 minutes to get an appointment, find out whom the decision-maker is and find out that person’s needs. Use your time accordingly.

It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Speak with authority, confidence and attitude. Project confidence in the call with the words and phrases you use. Check out a presentation I gave on millionsonthephone.com to see how I do this with a live audience.

Words matter. One wrong word on the phone can blow your call. You can no longer say things like “I can’t do that,” “I don’t know” or “Can you hold, please?”

Dealerships should quit spending money on advertising if they aren’t going to train their people how to effectively handle the phone calls that result. The ad’s purpose was to drive traffic, and if you don’t prepare your people every day to handle specific types of anticipated calls, then you are throwing money away.

Other than your commitment and attitude about success, the telephone itself will continue to be one of the single most important tools you use in building your brand, your company and your revenue.

 

Grant Cardone
Grant Cardone
Grant, a national speaker and motivator, is a respected, highly regarded master salesperson whose passion is to teach people how to sell themselves, their products and services regardless of economic climate. His books, audio packages and seminars provide people of all professional backgrounds with the practical tools necessary to achieve high levels of success. Follow him on Twitter @grantcardone.

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