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Automotive BDC

How to Maximize Inbound Call Opportunities

Incoming calls to auto dealerships are on the rise thanks to smartphones and click-to-call buttons. The best way to ensure callers reach a live person on the phone is to always have BDC agents on the end of your phone lines. But are your agents handling calls like a pro?

Poor phone handling skills will cost you sales and service opportunities every single day. The following best practices will help your internal BDC maximize every inbound call to keep the momentum building and win you more business.  

1) Ask for and give information.  

Do your BDC agents ask every caller for basic information like their name, email address, and phone number? Do they freely share their name and position at the dealership? They should. A fair trade of information creates trust and sets the stage for more productive conversations.

Agents should enter all information into your CRM. After all, you can’t follow up if you don’t have the proper data stored in your system. For sales calls, include what type of car the caller is seeking, finance details, and trade-in information. For service calls, ask about date of purchase and vehicle mileage. BDC agents don’t need to keep John Steinbeck-level notes, but they should keep in mind that every detail helps when it comes to targeted and personalized follow-up.

Run and review a report on CRM missed phone opportunities every month. If you’re showing even 100 to 200 calls a month, you’re missing a ton. That’s only three to six calls a day, and we all know the phones ring more than that. 

2) Sell information, not appointments.

BDC agents should give callers as much information as possible, as readily as possible. Here’s why: customers who pick up the phone are much further along in the shopping process than someone browsing online. They’ve likely researched extensively and already know a lot about their vehicle of interest. By the time they call, they just need to know three things: inventory availability, price and whether or not they want to do business with your dealership.

Agents need to answer every question the customer has before asking for an appointment. Pushing an appointment when the customer simply wants answers sends the impression that your store is aggressive or hard to work with. That’s when potential customers eliminate your store from consideration.  

There’s nothing wrong with asking for the appointment, but don’t do it before you establish rapport and don’t try to force it. The goal is to create a relationship.

3) Establish next steps for hot sales opportunities.

Say your BDC agent has a customer on the line who is ready to buy. Now what?

Set clear expectations for how these hot leads could get transferred. Leaving a customer on hold for too long or telling them a salesperson will call them back, stops the deal flow and creates a negative impression that can put the deal in jeopardy.

What does a hot lead look like for your store? Is it a customer with a specific payment plan, a trade-in quote, a showroom appointment? Establish your parameters and ensure every BDC agent knows how and where to transfer these calls.

Some dealerships streamline the sales process by empowering BDC agents to handle every aspect of the sale from contact to contract, including the F&I presentation. This one-person sales approach is efficient and eliminates the “hand-off” that irritates many customers.

4) Create a dedicated service BDC.

When inbound service calls are handled properly by BDC agents, up to 72 percent convert to an appointment.

It’s worth it to your bottom line to have a small team handling these calls, even if it’s just one or two people to cover busy mornings and late afternoons.

Make sure these agents have access to the service CRM and online scheduling tools. Give them the appropriate scripts and resources so they can answer questions quickly and accurately.

As an added bonus, a service BDC can help your shop stay at capacity. Service advisors may not schedule a 4:00 pm appointment because they want to get out of the shop early or on time. Dedicated BDC agents will fill those slots regardless of the time.

5) Invest in an integrated phone tracking system.

In our business, more data is better. That’s why a call tracking system tied to your CRM is crucial. The system will capture real-time data and call insights to maximize BDC performance and execution. It will also help you identify pain points that show where your staff requires more training.

Concentrate on measurement and accountability. Every week, review incoming calls. Take note of the time each employee spent on the phone, the number of appointments scheduled, and the result of those appointments.  This allows you to investigate and correct phone handling skills or processes before they affect your bottom line.

6) Embrace a full-service BDC.

Not sure if your internal BDC can maintain these best practices? You may need to outsource some – or all – of your BDC activities to a virtual BDC.

What are the benefits of using a virtual BDC? To start, responses fire 24/7. This helps stop the clock for leads and engages prospects in live conversation. This live call and email lead conversion management can be tailored to your dealership’s follow-up specifications. If a customer doesn’t respond to the first email, you can place them in a long-term automated email marketing drip campaign to keep nurturing the lead after the initial conversation.

Whether you stick with an internal BDC or choose a hybrid model, regular check-ins are key to maintain proper phone handling skills and maximize results. 

Originally published on


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