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Tag Archive: Alan Ram

Alan Ram

You Lose 40% of Your Customers Each Month. Here’s How to Get Them Back.

Customer choosing to write satisfied face over unhappy face

I want to talk to you about the importance of having someone—in addition to your sales staff—following up with each and every unsold client. That’s right: not instead of, but in addition to! I would also encourage you to do it internally versus farming it out and having someone do it for you; I’ll get to why in a minute.

Who owns the sale: You or your salespeople?

So, I get it. Someone comes into your dealership, and you naturally expect the salesperson to follow up with that individual. Here’s one problem with that: Our data indicates that 39% of customers who visit a dealership won’t return to that dealership because they don’t like the salesperson.

Why don’t they like the salesperson? Could be anything: personality differences; they thought the rep was too tall, too short; maybe they smelled like smoke or made an inappropriate comment. Whatever the reason, the clients decided that they just don’t like the salesperson. But their dislike of your staff doesn’t mean you don’t want to sell them a car—of course, you do!

Personality fit matters.

Here’s the problem. Based on my experience with salespeople, if the salesperson wasn’t necessarily feeling the love with a particular client, they’re probably not going to make that big of an effort to get back in touch. Even if they do reach the client, that person will rarely tell the salesperson “We didn’t like you.” Instead, if the salesperson can, in fact, even reach them, they’ll say …

“We decided to hold off.”

“We’re not going to buy anything right now.”

“We already bought something.”

… even if they didn’t! They won’t tell the salesperson they didn’t like him or her, but they will tell someone else. That’s why I recommend having someone in addition to the salesperson following up each and every guest to your showroom.

How many sales have you lost?

Let’s do the math—

Say you get 600 floor ups per month. Of those, 300 either do buy or can’t buy for whatever reason right off the bat. That leaves you 300 be-back opportunities—or does it? If 39% of those 300 don’t like the salesperson, for whatever reason, he or she has zero chance of getting about 120 of those people back in.

Now let’s imagine a scenario when a well-trained client service specialist or BDC agent calls those clients. Of 120 clients, they should be able to get about 25-35% of them back in. That would be about 35 people showing back up at your dealership who would not have shown up otherwise. And you should have a much higher closing percentage on those 35 than you would on any regular be-back. Why? Because when they come back in, in many cases they buy out of spite. Thirty-five be-backs could very easily translate into 20 plus deals. Those are deals you would not have otherwise had.

The point is this: You have lost sales.

I’m sure that many people have found a new or pre-owned vehicle at your dealership but were turned off by the salesperson to the point where they said, “While I like the vehicle, I’m not buying anything from that guy!” That’s why it’s critical to have someone in addition to salespeople follow-up each and every customer. Many of you will tell me that your managers are the ones making these calls, and that’s great in theory, but not quite as good in reality. Most managers will make one attempt to get someone, leave a message, and then move on. I’ve found that a well-trained business development center representative or Client Service Specialist can be much more persistent and get just as good of results if trained properly. (Also, many times it’s a manager the client didn’t like.)

Train your staff to make the call.

I realize there are outside services that will make these calls for you. In many cases, they make a warm fuzzy call that identifies the objection and then rely on management to call these clients back. I always encourage dealerships to teach their BDC representatives and client service specialists how to handle the call from A to Z (Z being when the buyer shows up at your dealership).

There are fewer moving parts this way, and there tends to be much better communication with management when this role is handled internally. So get your staff ready to follow up on each and every unsold client to ensure that 39% of your possible deals aren’t being mishandled!

Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemandAlan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/03/you-lose-40-of-your-customers-each-month-heres-how-to-get-them-back/

Alan Ram

How to Be the New England Patriots of the Car Business

Business people at work in their office

It was 2008 when it hit me.

The economy had just begun to hit the skids, and I was leaving a dealership after having done a live meeting. As I walked through the empty showroom, I noticed four managers on shift, sitting in an otherwise vacant tower waiting for salespeople to bring them a deal. There were no customers on the floor and nothing happening outside beyond the huddle of salespeople by the front door, and I realized: A lot of people in our industry that we call managers aren’t necessarily managers. They might be great on the desk—and they’re often strong closers—but they don’t all have management skills. It became clear to me that what these managers do when there are no customers in the showroom is every bit as important as what they do when they have a showroom full of customers.

How did we get to this point as an industry where we have managers

who don’t have good management skills?

It has to do with how someone becomes a manager at a dealership. We tend to take our best salespeople and make them managers. Wouldn’t taking the best salesperson on the floor and making him a manager be the equivalent of taking the best NFL player and making him a coach?

The best players don’t make the best coaches. Take Wayne Gretzky, for example. He was an amazing player and an absolute disaster as a coach. Likewise, the best coaches in NFL history have not come from the best players. The reason is this: Being a great coach is a different skillset than being a great player. Yet, what do we tend to do in the automotive industry? We take our best players off the floor, we hardly train them at all on how to manage, and then we’re surprised when they fail.

The time has come when dealerships actually have to have good management. In today’s industry, it’s not just about desking and closing deals, a manager’s most important functions have to do with preparing the team for game day.

Here are my tips for how managers can begin to master managing.

Strategic duties

A coach is responsible for a team’s overall offensive and defensive strategies. A great manager focuses on offense by honing a culture of business development at his dealership. He educates his staff on how to drive traffic to the showroom, how they can work orphan-owner bases, sold bases, social media and the service drive for repeat and referral business.

A strong manager also focuses on turning defense into offense by making sure he has given his staff the tools to convert inbound phone calls and Internet leads into customers on the showroom.

Practice makes perfect

Just know the playbook doesn’t prepare the team for the game—the best managers practice and drill plays until salespeople become reflexive and command the confidence to deliver in crunch time.

Great managers prioritize practice with their people just as football teams simulate five days a week to prepare for a game. Managers must simulate critical skills such as how to handle the phones, so everyone is practiced in “what” to say and “why” to say it to get customers walking through the front door.

Accountability is key

Finally, the best coaches hold their players accountable. Bill Belichick is an example of an incredible coach who holds accountability as a top priority. Belichick’s history demonstrates this value most memorably when Chad Ochocinco (aka Johnson), a superstar signed from Cincinnati, was cut for not knowing the playbook.

Great managers hold their salespeople accountable; for example, in order to have accountability on inbound sales calls, managers must actually listen to these calls—just as coaches review game film. When salespeople know that they are being listened to and that they will be held accountable for their performance, their effort level naturally rises.

Management must then have clear consequences. If people are not performing, if they fail to meet the standard, they need to know that there will be immediate consequences. For example, if a salesperson repeatedly mishandles calls, a consequence could be him or her losing the privilege of taking sales calls.

What do all great football teams have in common? Great coaches. Teams don’t come together and win games without strong leadership guiding them. In other words, no team will achieve greatness despite poor coaching.

Fortunately, great managers are made and not born. Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemandAlan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2017/01/how-to-be-the-new-england-patriots-of-the-car-business/

Alan Ram

BDC Success

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Let’s talk BDCs. There are many different types of BDC models, and what might work for one dealership may not work for the next, but there is one critical rule that applies to every type of BDC: They need to work cohesively with your sales staff.

The BDC disconnect

One mistake I often see Dealers making with BDCs comes into play when they have a BDC of non-salespeople taking sales calls. They tend to treat the sales staff and BDC as two entirely separate entities, rather than ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

This creates a problem when the customer comes into the dealership with information from a BDC representative they had previously talked to rattling around in their head. Then the salesperson, who is unaware of exactly what the BDC representatives are telling customers, meets that client in the showroom. The salesperson then ends up saying something along the lines of, “Oh, that’s just someone in the BDC, those guys don’t know what they’re talking about.” Even if the BDC representative has the latest and greatest training, things will go off the rails. When your salesperson doesn’t know what the BDC has told the customer, and openly admits it, your dealership’s credibility is shot, and you are stuck trying to dig your way out of a hole.

One team, shared success

Think about a football team. When they practice plays, they do it as a team. It’s a collective effort. The offensive line practices plays with wide receivers, running backs, and a quarterback in the mix. Everyone knows what everyone else needs to be doing. You need to take the same approach with your sales team. If you get your BDC and sales department on the same page, each understanding what the other is doing, you’ll soon find your dealership working like a well-oiled machine. You want a seamless message being conveyed to your customers.

Let me tell you how this applies to my training specifically. I often see hesitancy in salespeople, who wonder why they should have to go through my “Phone-Ups That Show Up” course when they don’t actually take sales calls. There are two reasons:

  1. The first is what we just discussed, in that they need to know exactly what the BDC is telling clients to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  2. Secondly, it’s all about phone skills. Even if your people are not taking inbound sales calls, they should still be putting a phone to their head hundreds of times every month in outbound calls.

Every time someone at your dealership picks up the telephone and doesn’t know what to say, or says the wrong thing, it may cost you a deal. You do the math. Your complete staff needs to be cohesive, as well as well-trained on the telephone, in today’s automotive industry. If you want to see your dealerships and BDCs succeed in a big way, this is not optional.

Ready to train your team? Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemandAlan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/11/bdc-success/

Alan Ram

Phone-Ups that Show-Up

Manager Instructing Customer Service Representatives In Office

Every time I ask a group, whether it be dealers or salespeople, what the goal of a sales call is they tell me it’s to “set an appointment.” No, it’s not! Let me explain with two scenarios.

Scenario A: You take a sales call.  Everything goes great: You get their name, you get their number and, yes, the caller sets an appointment. You hear barking in the background, and you start talking to the caller about their dog. Now you’ve got some Golden Doodle-rapport. Unfortunately, that appointment does not show up.

Scenario B: Someone calls, and you get their name and number. That’s no problem—you again use the highly effective technique that I call “asking them for it” that works just about every time. This customer will not set up an appointment no matter how hard you try. They just won’t commit. But, later on, that evening, they come in and buy.

Which would you rather have? (And that’s not a trick question.) Clearly Scenario B, right? But they didn’t have an appointment! So what? The goal of a sales call is not to set an appointment but to have someone actually show up at your dealership!

Show-ups count, not appointments

There’s a big difference between setting up appointments and having people arrive. I’ve had plenty of salespeople come up to me excited at a dealership and tell me that they just used one of my word tracks on a customer on the phone, and it worked great. My question is always, “did the caller show up yet?” If not, nothing has worked “great” yet. Not until they show!

Now, I’m not telling you not to set up appointments, so relax. Of course, you want to set up appointments. But let’s face it, nobody comes into your dealership because you got their name and phone number: “Hey honey, that salesperson at Friendly Kia just got our phone number! Let’s get down there!”

Messaging matters

By the same token, nobody comes into your dealership simply because you set up an appointment. They come in because of everything else you say. What reasons are you giving customers to come to your dealership, other than to see you?

If you can’t answer that question, you need to figure it out!  Most telephone training in the automotive industry is simple:

1. Get their name.

2. Get their phone number.

3. Smile, because a smile can be heard over the phone. (This is true, by the way.)

4. And then, set up an appointment they probably won’t show up for!

You need to step up your game! To get people to come to the dealership, you must give them solid reasons to show up. The next time someone asks you what your goal on a sales call is, I want you to say: “It’s to get someone to actually show up!”

Ready to train your team? Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemandAlan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/09/ups-that-show-up/

Alan Ram

Education isn’t training!

guy_laptop

It seems that anybody who is anybody in the training sphere has an online platform. Because of this, it is important for you to understand exactly what you’re getting and what you’re looking for from any trainer or training program. Dealers call companies like NCM and mine, every day, to ask for training, and some will make it a point to specifically ask for live training. What they want is for someone to come in and talk to their people, for several hours a day, for a few days, explaining whatever it is they are trying to teach.

The problem is that this is not really training, it is only education. At the end of this type of “training,” the Dealer is satisfied because his salespeople are pumped up about all the stories that they heard in the conference room. However, when the trainer follows up he is told that the salespeople were excited for about a week after he left, but now they are back to doing what they were doing before.

What’s the problem?

The first problem: Even though the salespeople were sitting in that conference room for eight hours, their attention span only lasted for about twenty minutes.

The second problem: Everyone learns at a different rate. Some people can hear something once and understand it, some need to hear it fifteen times or more for it to sink in.

The third problem: Repetition is the mother of learning. Training is not about a one-time pump up session, it’s all about repetition.

What real training looks like!

Even if the trainer actually did simulate or train during that session, now what? That’s not enough. Professional golfers don’t just hit a bucket of balls once every six months. They hit bucket after bucket of balls daily. This is why I’m a fan of online platforms. Why would you take hostages in a conference room for hours on end, when that same training could be delivered online at everyone’s individual pace, fifteen minutes per day, in a way that also tracks and monitors. It’s that easy!

Then, you need to simulate. Someone should be doing this at your dealership on a consistent basis. You can role play different skills for a few minutes every day. That’s all it takes, and that’s training! Let’s quit confusing education with actual training.

Use Your Power Tools

Online platforms are invaluable tools to help you get the job done. Managers need good tools. A contractor could just use a hammer and screwdriver to build a house, but couldn’t he get the job done much faster with power tools?

Online platforms are the power tools that management should use to get the job done better and faster. They make training sustainable in the real world environment of the dealership. Live events can be great momentum builders, and can be useful when concept and processes are being discussed and collective feedback fuels the conversation. Both live events and online platforms have a place in making sure you have a solution that accomplishes your goal.

Ready to train your team? Check out in-person training options through NCM Associates, and discover our online platform, NCM OnDemand. Alan Ram’s Management by Fire course offers additional tools for your dealership training needs.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/08/education-isnt-training/

Alan Ram

Your Sales Appointment System is Failing You

NCM-CD-253

It’s Friday morning, and a Manager is paging everyone in the sales office, reminding them to get their appointments for the day on the board.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this bad management practice is a common one. What if only half of the sales team logs their appointments that day? Now that Manager is flipping out and yelling for everyone to get on the phones and, “Call anyone we haven’t made a deal with! Any phone-ups that haven’t shown up! Call your mom, call your third-grade teacher—call everyone! We need some appointments today!” This is panic management at its finest.

Today started yesterday

Here’s the problem: Today is too late to do anything about today. Today should’ve been taken care of yesterday, the day before that … and the day before that! By worrying about today, today, you’ll just end up finding out that you’re screwed in advance.

A good Manager will ask, “How many appointments have we set up for today?” If every day your sales staff is setting up enough appointments, whether they’re appointments for today, tonight, tomorrow or the weekend, every day will end up taking care of itself.

That isn’t to say that you don’t want to know how many appointments are coming in today; of course, you want to know that! But, where you keep your foot on the gas pedal is knowing how many appointments your staff has set up today, not how they’re scrambling to fill the board.

Make every day a competition

Now, let’s talk about logging appointments on a board versus simply putting them in the CRM. At one time, a friend of mine, Dan Clara, Market Director for a huge automotive group, explained to me that when his team logs appointments in the CRM, rather than using a physical whiteboard, appointments go down.

Why is that? Because salespeople, at least the good ones, are naturally competitive. If one team member sees another salesperson writing appointment after appointment on the board, he or she will want to set up more. It’s also an in-your-face way of seeing what you’ve accomplished, as you accomplish it, throughout the day.

Simply logging appointments in the CRM tends to take the clear, visual competition out of the equation. Use the natural competitiveness of your salespeople to boost the amount of appointments your team sets each day.

Ready to get your sales team back on track? Check out General Sales Management training from the NCM Institute, including Alan Ram’s Management by Fire course.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2016/07/your-sales-appointment-system-is-failing-you/

Alan Ram

Is Your Dealership in Conflict?

Chess

Here’s the problem at many dealerships: In our heads, we know what we want our people to be doing on a daily basis, but our actions and processes (or lack thereof) contradict what our heads are thinking, and we end up sending our staff conflicting messages. What do many of you see as you walk through your showroom? You might see five salespeople standing out on the point for three hours, waiting for one customer while discussing their upcoming fantasy football draft. As a dealer, that should make you crazy. What do you want to see? You want to see your people working the phones EFFECTIVELY and driving better quality traffic to the dealership.

Here are a couple issues I see at play at many dealerships:

First and foremost is your open floor. There is absolutely no benefit to you as a dealer in having an open floor. NONE!! All an open floor does is encourage your people to stand around and do nothing while they wait around for a floor up that was coming in anyway.

I see this happen all the time; a dealership has my training and their people are excited to work the phones. A couple salespeople, who don’t necessarily think it’s part of their job to actually follow up or generate anything, continue to stand out on the lot…and wait. Luckily for them, they don’t have to compete anymore for floor traffic with all the salespeople who are doing what you want them to do on the phones. Let’s just say that one of the salespeople standing around happens to bump into a customer that buys a car. Pretty soon the salespeople who are on the telephone, doing what you want them to do, start realizing that they’re not having a chance to even get an up. Now human nature takes over and they start the migration back to the front door. They indirectly feel that they are being punished by doing what you asked them to do. Your open floor is hurting productivity and needs to go.

Have you ever had to bribe your kids to get them to eat their candy and ice cream? “Now Billy, if you don’t eat your ice cream, you’re not going to get any candy.” I doubt that’s a conversation that happens at anyone’s house. It’s more like, “If you don’t eat your Brussels sprouts, you don’t get dessert”. You don’t need to convince them to eat their candy and ice cream. They were going to eat that anyway. To me, spiffing your salespeople for selling your floor ups is the same thing. They’re going to take your floor ups whether you spiff them or not! If a salesperson that sold 25 cars off strictly floor ups was to leave tomorrow, how many deals would you lose? Probably none. Why? Because those customers would still come in. They would just be distributed differently. What about that salesperson that sells 20 cars a month off primarily their own efforts to repeat and referral clients? If that salesperson was to leave, how many deals would you lose? I would say all of them. Therefore, a salesperson that sells repeat and referral customers is far more valuable to you than one that sells floor ups. If you’re going to have a spiff program, let’s spiff them for what you want them to do versus what they were going to do anyway! A referral spiff for example. If it really is a referral your salesperson generated through their efforts, wouldn’t it make sense to spiff them for it?

We also all want our sales staff doing a better job at working (mining) their sold customer base. What if we spiff them for selling repeat customers or for turning service customers back into sales clients. Now you have your salespeople thinking, “I make more money by selling a repeat or referral client than I do a floor up.” That’s when they’ll start focusing on those things you want them to focus on. That’s when you’re using your spiff money to change their behavior and ultimately change the culture. You will not sell one less car by eliminating a unit bonus, but you’ll sell a lot more cars by instituting a repeat and referral spiff.

The key to this coming together and getting the results you want is obviously training. Your people need to be trained on how to get results on the phone. When they’re trained it gives them confidence. When they have confidence, they’re much more likely to be successful and they gain momentum. It all starts with training and having processes in place that are consistent with, and not in conflict with, what you want to see happening on your showroom floor.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/07/dont-let-business-development-kill-your-business/

Laura Madison

Humanize Your Online Presence

SocialPhone

The use of social media is becoming mandatory for dealerships. Prospective clients are looking for local dealers’ Facebook pages; they’re searching YouTube for product comparisons and even asking friends across social platforms for recommendations. The problem in the automotive world is: the vast majority of dealerships and individual salespeople are using social incorrectly. Simply being active on a platform does not mean that platform is being effectively used. The key to an effective social media presence is creating human connection.

To illustrate the importance of human connection, have a look at how people in Japan buy and sell cars. Japanese salespeople go door-to-door trying to sell vehicles, rather than waiting at the dealership for the next ‘up’.  Once they find a prospective buyer, face-to-face meetings continue in their home with few Japanese car buyers ever even setting foot in a showroom. Paperwork is drawn up and signed in clients’ living rooms. When the sale is complete, a relationship has been formed that will last far beyond the delivery of the new vehicle; salespeople maintain constant contact with sold clients by calling, writing handwritten cards, even taking their clients to dinner.

What this demonstrates, I believe, and what the Japanese have remembered and we have forgotten is that commerce has always been personal. It has always been about people doing business with other people. This is where we have run into trouble in the digital world. We spend so much money on well-organized websites and so much time attempting to sell using social media but what we’re missing is connection. We’re missing the most critical element of relationships.

Consider for a moment what keeps a customer loyal, it’s not an oil change punch card or a fancy website; it’s relationship. It’s human-to-human connection.

Real connection is key to winning business.

There is some science behind the power of human connection in persuasion. Humans are born with a special part of the brain whose sole purpose is to recognize faces.  It is called the fusiform area and is located near the brain’s emotional center. The fusiform area makes us hard wired to use the human face as a centralized point for information and believability. So, in the case of faces: seeing is believing. In other words, an image of a salesperson’s face posted on social media is infinitely more powerful than a stock image of a new truck.

Fewer people are setting foot in dealership showrooms in 2015 than ever before, which provides a bit of a disadvantage in trying to create relationships. Social media, however, can fill this void by giving us a way to still create human-to-human connection with potential clients who already do all their research and shopping online.

Use this information to begin to dominate with a social media presence. Before your next social media post, consider human connection. Instead of touting an upcoming sale or a low, incentivized lease payment, introduce your followers to one of your salespeople. Keep personal relationships and human connection in mind with your dealership’s social presence—and always remember the power of the face.


Want to learn more from Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions?

We’re hosting Management by Fire in August. Watch this video or call 866.756.2620 for details.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/06/humanize-your-online-presence/

Alan Ram

Education, Simulation, Accountability

whiteboard

For training to be effective three elements need to be present; you need to have:

1. Education

2. Simulation

3. Accountability

Education, simulation, and accountability! Let me just expand on this. If I want to train in golf, I don’t just watch golf on TV. While watching golf on TV I may become educated in golf, but then I need to train through simulation. I would need to go out and hit bucket after bucket after bucket of balls to get good and stay good. The day I stop practicing (simulating) is the day my performance starts to suffer. But then where am I held accountable? On the scorecard!

How many statistical categories are golfers held accountable? Obviously, there’s your score but there’s also putting average, greens in regulation, and driving distance. How many statistical categories are baseball players held accountable? If I’m a position player, obviously batting average, fielding percentage, slugging percentage, and many more. As the dealer I also need to hold my people accountable. While most dealers can tell you how many cars they sold last month, how many new cars, how many used cars, how many certified, it’s surprising how many dealers can’t tell you how many overall opportunities they had. The way we improve is not by looking at how many cars we sold last month; it’s by focusing on what we didn’t sell!

Let’s talk about phone-ups for example.

Do you know exactly how many fresh sales calls your dealership received last month? Of those callers, how many actually visited the dealership at least once? Many of you (and it should be all of you) have call monitoring, that’s great, but make sure that there are no holes or gaps in your recordings with customers calling on your local number. Those calls need to be switched over to a recorded line. Everything needs to be recorded! Recording 80% of your calls is not sufficient! We live in a day and age of incredible accountability and we need to be making sure that we are taking advantage of it.

Let’s talk about the role your switchboard operator plays.

Your switchboard operator is an integral part in your dealership’s accountability when it comes to handling inbound sales calls. No CRM or automated system alone can get it done. What I’m going to go over now are just a few pointers and tips to help you hold your people accountable. First off, logging is mandatory. Some dealers will tell me that they ask their people to log calls for protection. In other words, if the call is logged under a specific salespersons name, that sales person is protected for 72 to 96 hours or whatever time frame is designated by yourself, or the dealership.

Let me run through a quick scenario: Bill takes a sales call. The caller asks about a 2011 Honda Accord that you have listed on Auto Trader. Bill promptly informs the caller that it is sold, and the call ends. Bill could not care less about protection and he knows that the caller he just spoke with won’t be coming in… Actually, he’s insured that. At the end of the day Bill is only going to log the callers that he thinks that he has a chance of showing up. In other words, your sales people are only going to log their successes. That would be the equivalent of having baseball players track their own batting averages, but if they strike out or fly out, they probably won’t count that one.

Every call gets counted. Not by the sales people, but by the switchboard operator. I guarantee you, your switchboard operator can and needs to do this. If Disneyland can tell you exactly how many people came to see Mickey on a daily basis, you should be able to tell how many people called you on Explorers today.

It all boils down to training and more than that, proper training!

  1. Education
  2. Simulation
  3. Accountability

Make sure these three elements are present in your training game plan in order to be effective. Training isn’t something you did, it’s something you do!

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Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2015/05/education-simulation-accountability/

Alan Ram

To be or not to BDC? That is the question.

Phone

Here’s a question for you:
Is your BDC the result of a failure in training?

That should have your attention.  If I’ve ever written an article that will be misconstrued, this will be the one! Let’s get this straight; your people don’t suck on the phones because you don’t have a BDC! They suck because you haven’t properly trained them! As I’ve talked to dealers over the years, I’ve seen many BDC’s spring up out of knee-jerk frustration. While there are obviously exceptions to the rule, this is something I’ve seen repeated in the industry over the past several years.  A dealer says, “We tried training our salespeople, but they’re still terrible at handling phones, so we’ve hired three people and all they’re going to do now is handle our inbound sales calls, as well as Internet leads.” I have a number of different problems with this thought process, and I’m happy to tell you about them:

1) So you’re telling me that the people that you’ve hired to sell Lexus in Chicago are capable of talking to a customer that walks into the dealership, but for some reason, it blows their flipping minds to talk to that same customer on the telephone or communicate via email? I’m not willing to accept that.

2) I have trained tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of salespeople and BDC reps over the years. In that period of time, I have found that it takes every minute as long to PROPERLY train a BDC rep as it does a salesperson. The operative word in the previous sentence is “properly.” As a matter of fact, it takes longer to train a BDC rep. Why? Because while the sales staff already knows the product, the BDC staff is starting from scratch. I’ve asked BDC reps specific product questions before, and you may as well be asking some of them the gross domestic product of Bolivia. So while you think you’re solving one problem, you’re really creating another. Most of the calls I listen to that are made into BDC’s do not represent an improvement over the sales staff. At most, it’s the “get the customer’s name and number” department while trying to set up an appointment without giving the customer an actual reason to come in. I’m not trying to be harsh here. This is fact. We are creating an unnecessary level of specialization at many dealerships.

3) In this day and age, where the number one thing I hear when I do dealer 20 group meetings is “expense, expense, expense!”, shouldn’t the number one expense be hiring a second group of people to do the job the first group should have been doing? We’re talking about communicating with customers on the telephone and Internet here! This stuff isn’t quantum physics. It amazes me that the same dealers who throw up in a trash can when they get a $1000 invoice for training have absolutely no problem adding as much as 20-40k of expense per month in creating a BDC.

4) With that model, no one will want to work for you! Your dealership will compound one of the biggest challenges we already have in this industry, which is the struggle to find good salespeople.  Put yourself in the position of a good sales-person looking for a place to work. You walk into a dealership to interview; it’s a beautiful facility and a great brand. Then the person interviewing you drops the bomb, “by the way, our BDC takes all sales calls as well as handles our Internet leads”. At that point, I would imagine you would stand up, thank the interviewer for their time, and walk out the door to the dealership that lets you handle phone-ups and Internet leads. Do not kid yourself! That is a huge challenge that many dealers hadn’t considered but are now facing. Good salespeople avoid working at those dealerships that severely restrict their opportunities, and those dealerships tend to become a culture of telemarketers and greeters.

Here’s the solution:
Train your people to do the jobs you hired them to do.

If I’m hired to sell cars at your dealership, I should be capable of communicating with customers in person, on the telephone, and online. That would be part of being a well-rounded salesperson. Unfortunately, salespeople don’t necessarily arrive on your doorstep well-rounded. It’s your job to train them. The sad fact is that much of what dealers have bought over the years in the name of training, hasn’t been anything close to training at all. Going to the Marriott and listening to myself or anyone else talk for eight hours is as much training as going to a baseball game is training for baseball. You might get educated, but you’re not necessarily going to get trained. For something to be considered training, three elements need to be present: 1) Education 2) Simulation 3) Accountability. If any of those three elements is missing, whatever you’re trying to accomplish probably isn’t going to happen.

Now I’m not trying to convince anyone to dismantle their BDC. What I’m telling you to do is make sure that you’re not replacing one group of people that you didn’t train properly, with another layer of expense that you’re not training properly either.

BDC’s ARE GREAT and provide a wonderful return on investment when you have them doing the right things the right way. For example, following up unsold customers. 39% of people surveyed say that the reason they would not come back to a dealership is because they didn’t like the salesperson for whatever reason. Too tall, too short, reminded them of their ex-brother-in-law or smelled like smoke. What this is saying is that your sales staff does not have a shot with 39% of what you think are their be-back opportunities. When the customer doesn’t like the salesperson they won’t tell him or her “we didn’t like you”. What will they say? “We’ve decided to hold off” or “We’re not going to do anything right now.” They won’t tell the salesperson, but they will tell someone else. That’s why it is critical that every dealership have someone in ADDITION to salespeople following up on each and every customer that visits the store. That is a great function for your BDC.

Another thing you can do is shift their focus to your service department. I have worked with many dealerships that have amazing success in having BDC representatives schedule both repair as well as recommended maintenance. They can actively be following up on recall notices and generating service revenue.  This is a huge opportunity.  Your service advisors are on the drive talking to customers. They’re in the shop checking on vehicles. Call your dealership. Try to get a hold of the service advisor sometime and see how often you get voicemail or get put on hold for a period of time.

So again, I’m not telling you to dismantle your BDC. Business Development Centers are great when they are actually developing business. Let’s just make sure you have yours focused on the proper opportunities.

ondemand

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.ncm20.com/2014/11/to-be-or-not-to-bdc-that-is-the-question/

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