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Automotive BDC

guy making calls

At its core, sales is a numbers game. It always has been and always will be. If you’re selling the same product that others are selling, you can only expect to close a percentage of customers that come into your store. In our industry, top performers close 50 to 60 percent of their appointments.

Therefore, logic dictates the only way to increase sales is to make more appointments. We all know you can’t rely on “ups” alone. So, how do you get more appointments? It’s pretty simple. You make more phone calls.

The person who makes the most phone calls makes the most connections. Those who make the most connections, make the most appointments and ultimately close the most sales. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Yet, many salespeople routinely struggle to make the necessary phone calls. This is why 30 percent of auto dealerships now use call centers for the type of “heavy lifting” phone calls that their sales team can’t, won’t or don’t do.

I’m talking about calling hot leads, cold leads and equity leads generated from data mining your CRM for potential customers who in a buying position, about to go out of warranty or come off lease.

What’s that I hear? Your salespeople are already making these phone calls? Are you sure about that?

Just because your team is making some phone calls, doesn’t mean they’re making the right kind of calls, or all the calls they could be making. Let me share a few common myths that I keep hearing, and the reality of what’s going on.

Myth #1: My salespeople are making those calls.
Fact: Your salespeople aren’t making enough calls.

Call center data shows it takes an average 4.8 phone calls to connect with a customer. The average salesperson follows up with a hot lead two or three times and virtually ignores cold leads. Plus, salespeople get caught up in other activities of daily meetings, talking to ups, customer appointments and lunch. There isn’t enough time in the day for them to make the hundreds of calls required for prospecting.

Call center agents make phone calls, every day, all day long. That’s the only thing they do, and they are trained to know how to handle each type call professionally and use the right call guide to get information dealers need.

Myth #2: My salespeople are motivated to make phone calls.
Fact: Salespeople are not paid to make phone calls.

Salespeople are paid on commission when they sell cars. So, they will always be chasing the down funnel leads they believe are close to closing—and rightly so. They are not data mining your CRM or creating strategies that will fill their pipeline full of prospects three months away from purchasing a vehicle.

Call center agents create organized outgoing call campaigns and execute those campaigns with precision. They don’t lose interest in customers who don’t call them back. They contact cold leads and nurture up funnel leads. Then, when a lead becomes “hot,” they hand it over to your sales team.

Myth #3: My salespeople have better phone skills than an outsourced agent.
Fact: Not all salespeople are great on the phone.

Do you hire salespeople based on the impression they made from a phone call or from their in-person interviews? If the latter, how do you know what their phone skills are? Most sales people are great face to face but many lack the patience needed for phone skills that are effective.

How much phone skills training do your salespeople receive? Or, do you just assume that they should know what to say and how to say it? Converting conversations into appointments is a specific and learned skill. Call center agents are trained how to be personable and sound authentic. Asking for an appointment too soon is guaranteed to drive the customer away. You need to earn the right to ask.

Myth #4: My salespeople are great at making follow up calls.
Fact: Some salespeople suck at follow up calls.

It’s not their fault. When a customer leaves your lot without purchasing a vehicle, the salesperson has often done everything they can do. When they call to follow up, they don’t have an enticing offer to lure the customer back in, so they resort to the “checking in” call or asking if the customer has made a decision yet. No wonder customers avoid answering their phones.

However, 95 percent of customers contacted by a third party are willing to take a short survey about their customer experience. This is what call center agents do. These surveys provide valuable insights into what your sales team is doing right and wrong so that you can coach them up effectively.

Additionally, sometimes the customer shares the real reason why they didn’t buy, which is not always the same reason they give the salesperson. When the real objection is identified, the customer feedback is given to a sales manager who has strategies to overcome that objection.

Yes, your salespeople “should” be making phone calls. But are they? That’s the only question you need to answer, and hopefully, it’s an honest answer. Because whoever out dials, out connects and outsells.

guy handling inbound sales call

As an industry, we have pretty much perfected the process of following up on Internet leads, but we are far from perfect when it comes to handling inbound phone leads. According to CallSource and IHS/Polk research, 84 percent of consumers purchase vehicles from a different dealership than the one they originally called.

The good news is, there’s a huge opportunity to improve. Consumers are using cell phones more than ever for research during the car-buying process. In recent years, this has led to a significant increase in the volume of inbound calls to dealerships, compared with the number of email and Internet leads which have stayed the same or even declined.

When a customer calls your dealership, most times you’ve got one shot to get it right. Which is why converting inbound calls to sales opportunities should be your number one priority. To ensure you don’t drive customers away, follow these tips. Read More

Boost_Sales_&_Service_Revenue_with_a_Hybrid_BDC

Many dealers prefer using internal BDCs so they can keep control of leads and processes. Other dealerships use an external BDC for cost, management and efficiency reasons. Just about every dealer believes it’s a choice: you either set up an internal BDC or outsource to a third-party virtual BDC. Yet, some of the best efficiencies and results actually happen with a hybrid BDC solution.

Hybrid BDC Benefits

In a hybrid set up, an external BDC does most of the “heavy lifting” related to chasing down sales leads, then hands the hottest leads over to your internal BDC. On the service side, the external BDC handles most of your inbound calls, which many dealership service departments struggle to manage effectively.

A hybrid BDC solution is ideal for dealerships with size constraints on their internal BDC due to staffing, management and/or budget issues. Let’s say your dealership is an average store selling 100 to 150 cars per month. To handle 400 to 1,000 phone calls per week, you need four full-time people and one manager to oversee them.

Bottom line? It’s difficult to set up an internal BDC for less than $10,000 per month, and that’s on the shy side.

Of course, you could be one of those dealers that believe your salespeople should be able to make all the prospecting and campaign calls, and your service advisors should be able to handle all the inbound service inquiries. The reality is, most salespeople don’t have the personality, patience or phone skills necessary to make the requisite calls, and your service advisors should be spending their time with the customers in front of them, not on the phone setting appointments.

Internal BDC vs. Hybrid BDC Solutions

Now, let’s say you want to use a hybrid BDC solution. For about 25 to 30 percent of the cost of an internal BDC, you can outsource most of the heavy lifting type calls that include:

  • Inbound service calls
  • Outbound sales and service campaigns
  • Sales and service appointment setting and confirmations
  • Internet leads follow up
  • Unsold showroom traffic follow up
  • Declined service repairs follow up

Whenever an external BDC agent has a hot sales lead or sets a service appointment, they transfer the customer over to one of your internal BDC agents to finish the call. Your internal BDC agents deal with fewer calls and spend more time on the phone with your customers, delivering a better experience.

With this setup, the average dealership mentioned above could probably get by with two highly-skilled internal BDC agents, versus the four agents plus a manager. The cost may be the same or even slightly less, but your ROI will be significantly higher.

The nice thing about a hybrid BDC solution is that you can decide which tasks you want your internal BDC to perform based on your staff’s skill sets. For example, maybe your internal BDC takes and makes all inbound and outbound calls, while the external BDC follows up with Internet leads and unsold showroom traffic.

Maximizing Sales and Service ROI

The key to maximizing your ROI is taking the time to identify the strengths and weaknesses inherent in your current phone processes. Then, outsource to an external BDC to cover areas of weakness, while freeing up your internal BDC to focus more time on areas of strength.

After switching to a hybrid BDC solution, it’s not unusual for a dealership to see immediate increases in service and sales appointments, as well as RO count and corresponding revenue.

Typical results include:

  • 25% of outbound service calls are eliminated when an external BDC schedules and confirms service appointments
  • 72% of inbound service calls are converted into appointments
  • 97% of calls result in additional information gathering on customer
  • 84% customer contact rate with two valid phone numbers

External BDC agents are trained to stick to scripts, and therefore tend to be more effective at collecting valuable customer data such as emails, phone numbers and current addresses. This data contributes to higher marketing campaign response rates.

But the primary reason why a hybrid BDC solution is so effective is that it allows your staff to focus their attention on the customers in front of them. You still get to keep control over your branding, messaging, lead-handling and other processes. Yet, instead of having to sort through 100 leads to find the hand-raisers, your external BDC does that for you, then hands over the 20 people who responded and are actively seeking assistance.

The next time your internal BDC is experiencing overwhelm, you may want to try a hybrid BDC solution to ease your load, improve customer experience and boost sales and service revenue.

Customer_Expectations_Calls

Dealers are great at creating expectations. They advertise their dealerships as family owned, friendly, hassle-free and low-price leaders. These promises are what motivate the customer to call in the first place.

Then the expectation gap opens up. Typical problems that dealerships run into include:

  • Calls getting put on hold, transferred to voice mails, routed to a carousel of wrong persons, or worse, disconnected
  • Customer does not get the information they called for, such as a price quote, or
  • No one returns the customer’s call.

When these things happen to your customers, your dealership instantly loses credibility. You promote how easy it is to do business with you, but that’s not what customers experience.

It’s not difficult to fix your phone processes, but it does require a strategy. Try these tips to help bridge the customer expectation gap at your store. Read More

Bill_Wittenmyer_Connect_With_Leads

Ask a dealer what they need to sell more cars and a typical answer will be “more leads.” On the surface, this makes sense. But to get more leads, you need to spend more money. Even then, you’re never really in control of how many leads get generated.

Now that new car sales and lead volume are plateauing, a better solution for selling more cars is to increase your customer connection rates. This may require a shift in mindset and habits of your sales staff.

After all, your salespeople were probably trained in the art of persuasion. They know how to overcome objections and close the deal. But do they know how to get a potential customer to respond to an email or call them on the phone? Read More

5 Outbound Call Campaigns for Auto Dealers

Outbound call campaigns are highly effective for motivating customers to take action. Sometimes nothing beats the sound of a real human voice that’s friendly and knowledgeable reaching out to you on the phone.

For sales campaigns, you can either organize your sales team to conduct an outbound call blitz, have your business development center (or Virtual BDC) reps complete it, or outsource to a qualified BDC expert and have a warm handoff of hand-raisers to designated dealership personnel. On the service call side, it’s wise to have your BDC or an outsourced call center make the calls. Read More