Properly Handling Calling Customers

On this week’s episode of Straight Talk, David Lewis talks about the importance of properly handling calling customers and why car shoppers would call your dealership first before coming in to look at your inventory.




Hello, everyone and welcome to this week’s episode of Straight Talk. I’m your host, David Lewis. This is the program where you will get straight answers for many of the questions and challenges car salespeople and managers face everyday in this business.

Today I want to talk with you about the importance of properly handling call-in customers and why car shoppers would call your dealership first before coming in to look at your inventory. Since research shows that call-in customers are the number one source for genuine buyers, this becomes a very important part of a successful sales process for those who want to achieve maximum success in this business. What this means to you is this. If you’re a salesperson who tends to ignore call-in customers and prefers to let other salespeople deal with them so you can focus on those who walk into your showroom or onto the lot, you may be giving up the best opportunities you have to meet sincere buyers.


Now there are primarily two reasons why customers call your dealership during their shopping process. The first reason is simply to get information. They may be calling to find out about availability of a certain vehicle, option package, or color. They may want to get your hours of operation or your best price on a specific vehicle. The second reason for the call is to size you up as a salesperson to see if they will feel comfortable coming in to speak with you in person. This is very important to some people especially those who have had a bad experience in the past or may hold a negative view of car salespeople in general. They want to buy a new car. They know you sell that car, and they know they will eventually need to go to a dealership. By eliminating as many of the unknowns as possible, they can hopefully do that with less defensiveness or the fear that is often part of the car buying process for some people.

This makes the call-in customer very important. It also means that the better trained you are to handle phone-ups, the more likely it is that the customer will want to make an appointment with you to come in and see what you have to offer. Most people feel comfortable coming to see someone with whom they have an appointment rather than walking in straight up and taking the pick of the draw.

Knowing how to respond to call-in customers and what information to give or not give will be the secret to your success in setting an appointment. If during the phone conversation you apply pressure such as asking prematurely for an appointment or a phone number, this can scare them off and affirm their fears about talking to a salesperson. People are very defensive. If they’re calling to size you up, that kind of stuff would probably scare them off and cause them to look elsewhere for someone they might feel more comfortable working with. That means everything you do must be thought out and well-prepared if you’re going to gain the potential that most callers have to offer.

Let me ask you this. Have you ever called a tech support number and got someone you could not understand or someone who spoke with a deep accent or in a foreign tongue and you hung up in frustration and dialed again to see if you could get someone else? You can understand what I’m saying. Customers will call to size you up for similar reasons. The better you are at handling sales calls, the more likely will be to make a solid appointment and sell them a car.

Over the years, industry surveys have consistently shown that the top three priorities car shoppers have when they begin to look for a new vehicle are the product, the salesperson, and the dealership and in that order. Most dealerships have at least some of their vehicle inventory posted on their website for visitors to see which often includes a complete rundown of all the features and benefits as well as the price. In some cases, the customer can get an idea of what the payment might be based on the term of the loan, the down payment on it, and whether they choose to lease or purchase.

Shoppers who do their due diligence can pretty much know who has the cars they’re looking for and in some cases get a basic idea of what they expect to pay for the vehicle they want. What they don’t know is who they might end up working with from the sales department and whether or not they will regret going in cold turkey before at least getting some idea of what the salespeople are like at that dealership. This can make a big difference in the value of an initial phone conversation with a salesperson where you can get at least some idea of what to expect if they do make an appointment to come to the dealership.

This makes your job as a salesperson taking a phone-up something worth preparing for and an opportunity that, if handled well, could make a big difference in your paycheck and your potential to land a loyal customer for life. It makes sense that if a customer goes through all that trouble to make sure they find someone they feel comfortable dealing with, once they find that person they’ll want to return to them again and again whenever they or someone they know is in the market for a car. In the same way, finding the right dealership can prove valuable to a car buyer when it comes to servicing and maintaining the worth of their vehicle investment and being a support system for them during the period of their ownership.

Keep this in mind. This is not rocket science, and it is something that every salesperson should consider and take very seriously when they have the opportunity to speak to a new potential customer over the phone, by email, or via the social media resources available on the dealership website. Knowing what motivates customers to call your dealership before coming in can help you better prepare for phone-ups when they do call whether they are calling for general information or because they have a specific vehicle in mind. Always assume they are also hoping to make some kind of connection with a salesperson they will feel comfortable working within the purchase of the vehicle.

Since the phone-up is truly one of your best opportunities for coming into contact with a serious buyer, you will want to be as prepared as possible so that you have the best chance of getting them in for that appointment. Success is where preparation and opportunity meet. If you’re truly ready and prepared when a customer calls your dealership, you stand a great chance of turning that call into a sale.

Well that’s all for today’s show. As always, I want to thank you for joining me and encourage you to put these things into practice the next time you take a phone-up. It only works if you use it. The more prepared you are, the more successful you will be. As always if you’d like a complimentary copy of my books, just send me an email at and I’ll be happy to ship them out to you immediately and at no charge.