The Phone is Ringing: Yesterday, it was an Inquiry; Today, it’s a Buyer!


The phone is ringing. It’s a sales prospect. They’re not calling to chat. They found your vehicle on the Internet and (by calling you) they’re telling you they’re ready to buy it. Now, they just need someone to sell it to them.

A few years ago, it was likely the caller had a real question. Today, with the availability of transaction and near-transaction pricing online, most questions are just smokescreens; a way to shield the buyer from the sales pressure they fear. When your team understands and believes this, the process and word tracks they use will come more naturally. Moreover, they’ll set more appointments that show and buy… and buy today.

The Only Goal

To be clear, when someone on your team has a prospect on the phone, they have just one goal, and that’s an appointment that shows. Period. End of story. The goal is not to sell them a car (they already sold themselves on your vehicle – that’s why they called you). Additionally, the goal is not to sell the dealership or the salesperson or even build some phony rapport (your authenticity on the phone will accomplish that).
Unfortunately, for most dealers still paying for expensive phone training, the call sheets your salespeople are told to follow don’t ask the prospect for the appointment until the ninth or tenth step of the process. By then, you’ve peppered the caller with so many inauthentic questions they’re rethinking their new car fever.

Plus, if your team does make it to the tenth step of your outdated process, they’re feebly trying for the appointment by asking, “When would you like to come in?”
Congratulations, they just took all the urgency out of the purchase. While “When would you like to come in?” certainly sounds polite, it also tells the prospect four things:

  1. No rush.
  2. We’re never busy.
  3. We don’t care when you buy, and
  4. The vehicle will be here forever.

I’m pretty sure that’s not the message you’d like to convey to a ready buyer, is it?

Setting Appointments is Simple

Today’s buyer wants candid, honest and transparent dialogue with your team. They’re tired of the old-school runaround, and they’ll gladly eliminate your dealership when they feel you have an integrity issue on the phone. They’re calling to buy your vehicle; so, getting them into the test drive with as few words as possible will win exponentially more often than it loses.

Properly handling today’s sales calls is not science or selling or anything complicated. It’s just answering questions and setting appointments (often in the same breath). It’s taking charge, it’s being direct and providing guidance. But, more than anything else, it’s understanding what the prospect is really saying.

What They’re Really Saying

Once your team understands what the caller is really saying, they’ll more easily answer prospect questions with the proper response – one that assumes the caller is a buyer who wants to buy from you today (because, of course, they do).

The most common type of inbound sales calls dealers encounter concerns vehicle availability. In fact, the average dealer sees more availability calls than all other inbound sales calls combined. In these instances, the caller will ask something like, “Is it in stock?”

Why do you think they’re asking this? Are they just taking a poll? Are they calling every dealer in town about their inventory ensuring their online listings are accurate? No! They found the car they want, and they’re checking to see if it’s still on your lot so that they can buy it.

Your team hears the prospect say, “I see you have a yellow 2017 Camaro on your website; is it still in stock?”

But, they’re really saying, “I see you have a yellow 2017 Camaro on your website; is it still in stock because I’ve been searching online forever, and this is the exact car I want to buy, so I’m hoping you’ll sell it to me without taking advantage of me, so I hope it’s still in stock, is it?”

The reason they don’t blurt out any of the stuff in italics is because they don’t trust you; they’re afraid you’ll use their enthusiasm for this Camaro against them somehow. Nevertheless, once your team understands what the caller is really saying, they can respond in a way that helps the prospect buy “the exact car” they want without the inauthentic word tracks of the past.

Understanding this, your salesperson will have the most success when they answer with something direct and authentic like, “I saw that Camaro this morning, but at the price we have it listed for it will likely not make it to the weekend. Now, we do have two test drives open on that Camaro this morning. We’ve got a 10:45 and an 11:15. Which one works better for you?”

Be Direct; Take Charge; Provide Guidance

If you think the word track above is too pushy,, then you don’t understand today’s phone prospects. No one is calling you because your vehicle is overpriced or because they really want it in a color or trim you don’t have or because they just like chatting with salespeople.

While yesterday’s callers had real questions about price and availability, today’s callers are buyers who’ve found the right vehicle at the right price, and they’re trying to buy it. Now all you have to do is be direct with them, take charge of the conversation and guide them through the phone and into a test drive appointment that shows… and buys… today.

Good selling!