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To have a fighting chance of setting appointments and closing new customers, you have to start every sales call armed with a plan to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

by Cory Wright

Shaping great customer experiences and setting more appointments begins with one of the first critical moments, the phone call. The first impression of a call is more important than ever. After all, it’s a lot easier for consumers to hang up the phone than walk out of a dealership.

To have a fighting chance of setting appointments and closing new customers, you have to start every sales call armed with a plan to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Here are seven steps sales associates should take to prepare for sales calls and earn more appointments.

1. Know Your Goal

The goal of every call should be to set an appointment, not to sell a vehicle. Trying to stop the clock too early often stops the transaction. Instead, focus on the customer’s needs and how you can meet them. This produces a reason for the customer to visit your store. According to the 2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study, nearly half of today’s consumers only visit one to two dealerships before buying. If you can give them a reason to come in, there’s an excellent chance they will buy from you.

2. Do Your Homework

Be prepared to answer customer questions completely and transparently. Studies show consumers set an appointment 60 percent of the time when they receive clear answers to vehicle questions. Of course, it’s next to impossible to memorize every detail of every vehicle on the lot. Know where to look for information so you can answer questions quickly and completely. Take ownership of what’s on your website including frequently changing specials and incentives to give accurate answers on the first call.

3. Be Ready to Walk the Lot

Many customer calls are about vehicle availability. They’ve seen a vehicle on your website and want to know if it’s still for sale. Be prepared to transfer the call to your mobile phone, so you can walk out and physically set eyes on the vehicle. There’s no better reason to arrange an appointment and visit your store than knowing a vehicle is confirmed by you to be there, ready for a test-drive.

4. Define Your Value

What sets your dealership apart from the competition? A no-hassle sales process? A faster in-store experience? Define and hone your elevator pitch and believe in it. Your customers will hear the confidence and enthusiasm in your voice and believe in it too.

5. Respect the Call

Most dealerships are busy places buzzing with background noise. Show respect for every inbound caller by transferring calls to your mobile phone and finding a quieter place to talk. After all, this is an essential conversation for customers who are considering a significant purchase. They will hear it in your voice if you are distracted or having a difficult time hearing.

6. Be Prepared to Take Notes

Be ready to listen and take notes so that you can react to what the buyer says. Never make customers repeat themselves. It’s annoying for the caller and signals that you’re not listening. Carry a pad and a pencil, or a tablet, at all times. Don’t rely on typing information into the CRM as some systems are slow. Never rely on memory alone. The minute you hang up the phone and turn to another task, that critical customer information may be gone forever.

7. Plan for Busy Times

Sales meetings and customer appointments keep you away from ringing phones. Plan for unavailable times, so your store doesn’t miss out on a sale. Don’t rely on voicemail. Many customers will simply hang up and call the store down the street. The sales manager can dedicate one or two people to hop out of sales meetings when the receptionist has a sales call holding. During busy times on the floor, the receptionist should ring all phones round-robin style. The first associate to pick up takes the inquiry.

Take the time at the beginning of each day to prepare for customer sales calls. Time spent up-front can shape a great customer experience and earn you more appointments and more sales.

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