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Train ‘Em Up! How to Teach Your Sales Staff to Be Better on the Phone

Article Highlights:

  • Make sure to provide effective training to those taking phone calls.
  • Consider bringing in an expert to help.

Last month, we talked about the importance of who takes phone calls in your dealership. This month, I want to look at the training you provide your call takers.

Whether your inbound sales calls are routed to a BDC or your sales staff, you need to make sure effective training is provided to the people taking those calls.

Most dealerships have at least one or two people that are all-stars on the phone. If you have one of these people, ask if they’ll help design some training for the rest of your staff.

A helpful first step is to record your all-star at work on the phone. If you’re using Callbright or Reynolds Integrated Telephone System, this happens automatically.

All you have to do is play the recording back for the rest of your staff, and then ask them to break down how it went. Sometimes just hearing how an experienced salesperson handles a call can do wonders for a trainee’s effectiveness.

To really ensure your call takers get the best training, you should also consider bringing in an expert to help.

Make sure the trainers you bring in have actually worked in the automotive industry. Our industry is unique, and it pays to have trainers who know the ins and outs of selling in a dealership setting.

Whether you use internal staff or bring in someone to help, the key is to train your salespeople to maintain control of their conversations. Here are four tasks your training should focus on:

1. Using Closed-ended Questions

Make sure your standard word tracks avoid open-ended questions. Your salespeople need to control the flow and direction of their conversations, and the best way to do that is to ask closed-ended questions.

2. Setting an Appointment With Multiple Choice Questions

To get a customer to commit to an appointment, give them simple multiple choice questions. Offer two possible appointment days and then suggest two different times for the customer to choose from. A pro-tip is to make the times on the quarter-hour (2:00 or 2:45 p.m. instead of 2:10 or 2:50 p.m.). People remember top-of-the-hour, quarter-hour, and half-hour time slots better and are more likely to show up because of it.

3. Previewing the Sales Process

Remove as much of the anxiety involved with the purchase decision as possible. Inform the prospect what the sales process will look like when they get to the showroom, who they’ll talk to, and what to expect along the way.

4. Getting Them to Show

Have a simple checklist of things your salespeople always tell a prospect while they are still on the phone. These are things like: directions to the dealership, where to park, and who to speak to when they arrive. The key is to make a potential customer as comfortable as possible, even before they step foot in your store.

Throughout the training process, the trainer should include extensive role play to make sure the staff is comfortable with the process and the talk tracks.

Once the process is turned over to those taking the calls, the trainer should observe and coach them on how to improve.

Finally, make sure ongoing training is in place so that new employees don’t miss out on the same essential training.

Next issue: We’ll move from Sales to the sometimes overlooked Service department, where phone skills are equally important.

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Reynolds Consulting Services

Alex produced tremendous results in his 10 years as sales manager, finance manager, and general manager for various dealerships throughout the country. He brought his skills to the Reynolds Consulting group in 2012, and is currently the West Region Manager. Alex specializes in helping dealerships adapt and succeed in the changing market through process and system improvements. His fixed ops skills have assisted dealerships with processes in both service and in parts.  He has also led a series of seminars for the Gulf States Toyota, Inc.

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