Impact GroupNow is a good time to seriously evaluate how we are doing and how we need to improve. On the top of the planning list had better include solid 21st century phone skills.

When we look at the complexion of the Internet shopper and what they go through in their process of locating the perfect vehicle for their family’s needs, it sort of looks like the following:

1) Recognize they need something. Not sure what, just need something.

2) Discuss what they can afford according to their budget.

3) Discuss what type of vehicle the family needs.

4) Research various makes and models usually on manufacturer’s web sites.

5) Narrow down the vehicle selection process to two or maybe three makes and models.

6) Revisit manufactures’ web sites, enter their zip code and receive five to eight or more dealerships they can purchase from in their area. This number goes up or down depending on population and distance selected from the zip code they provided.

7) Print out the provided list of web sites and or telephone numbers for the dealers provided by the manufacture. Note: this could now involve 15 to 24 dealerships that represent possibly three competing makes/models from three manufacturers.

Now here is where it gets tricky:

8) The prospect either goes to the dealer’s web site and makes initial inquiry via e-mail and/or,

9) Chooses (as most prospects are now doing) to telephone the dealerships and obtain the information they require to make a decision. Keep in mind that they most likely are shopping a lot of dealers.

10) Then they narrow down their dealership choices and either continue telephone inquiries, visit the dealership, or make an appointment to do so.

Ok, now I want to focus on steps 8, 9 and 10 and what the potential new customers are looking for and why these stages are so critically important to your store. They may be interested in discovering several things when they contact your dealership: what’s in inventory, list price, best price, colors, options, the value of their current vehicle and most importantly; they are eliminating those dealerships where not to shop.

Why eliminate where not to shop? Because someone at your store screwed up handling one of various things such as:

1) Poor timing response to their e-mail inquiry

2) Responding with a generic ‘like everyone else’ e-mail

3) But actually the number one reason; poor telephone skills when they call your store. Sales simply answered prospect’s questions: cobalt blue, automatic, leather/cloth, rebates, and sale information. And the incoming caller was in control the entire time. In other words, all the stupid things every other dealership tells them without one ounce of energy expended towards developing a relationship. And, more people are electing to telephone the dealership now than ever because we are in an “I want information now” generational mode because frankly, we are finding that e-mail is just too slow for some demographic profile groups.

We are living in a CRM world that demands that we exhibit relationship building in order to withstand the various types of callers (and e-mailers) and succeed in this marketplace because we simply cannot fool around any more with losing opportunities to do business. Go ahead and pick up the phone and call a couple of dealerships and see just how poorly they handle the incoming telephone inquiry. Then while you are at it, call your own store and do the same. You most likely will see a preponderance of, “Sure we got it, come on down, I will be here all day, ask for Mike”. Occasionally you may stumble upon a store that gets it and has implemented a solid process for this area, but not many. Think about it, these prospects are calling several stores to identify where to do business and the industry is still looking at the telephone inquiry as a nuisance and has no controls. We wonder why prospects are eliminating where not to shop. You don’t know what you don’t know! Wake up call: there are prospects in your market that are buying a vehicle from some dealership this month. Do you want that dealership to be yours or do you not particularly care where they purchase?

Impact GroupOur adult learning workshop studies have proven that several factors have to be in place in today’s dealer’s marketplace in order to take the prospect to the next subsequent levels of sales consummation. First, salespeople have to go through unique enhanced training techniques and have a total understanding of customer behavioral profile understanding. Then they have to become a master of 21st century communications techniques, and finally, perform flawlessly through new technology telephone skills including well-honed tailored phone guides, then follow pre-designed processes. It is that simple yet so many dealers still rely on old school tactics that simply do not connect to the varying customer demographic profiles now found in this market and wonder why they are slipping.

So first they have to understand scientifically who (or what profile) they are speaking with and because they have hopefully been properly taught, they can now sell the prospect the way that prospect wants to be sold according to his or her demographic behavioral profile. Next, follow designed processes including utilization of the new communications techniques including; conversational techniques, aligning with the customer, empathetic agreement selling, incoming inquiry techniques, follow-up techniques (because you will always have 85-90 percent unsold prospects versus sold prospects), the new objection handling techniques and, equally important, they must follow a disciplined well-proven phone guide for each type of call in order to truly build relationships. Without relationship building your store is just another dealership and you have essentially reduced your ability to sell vehicles down to having the best price. And that is not where you want to be.

Need some help in deciding how to master the aforementioned? Shoot me an e-mail to and I can give you a checklist for accomplishing a new direction for your business. It is time to restructure your processes and begin to be a part of the, “We are growing our business club”.


Chuck Barker

Chuck Barker has been CEO of his two companies, Impact Marketing & Consulting Group, LLC and Impact Summit, LLC, for the last 24 years, both located in Virginia. His experience ranges from an executive with Harris Corporation (16,000 employees) one of Fortune Magazine’s largest companies to the automobile industry where he has performed all executive positions. His companies specialize in growing businesses, dealerships and people. He delivers unparalleled sales & service development programs, management leadership workshop programs and dealer/principal business & profit improvement ideas for automobile dealerships. He has recently published the first comprehensive ‘in-house’ sales training solution program for dealers entitled The Dealership Success Guide.