DrivingSales President’s Club Key Takeaways: Successful Appointment Setting 101

By: Tim Hickle

Business man talking on phoneIn April, I had the opportunity to attend DrivingSales President’s Club; an annual leadership conference-or as Jared Hamilton put it- “the 20 group of 20 groups,” in New York City.  Like most quality industry events, it was full of connecting with old (and new) friends, swapping ideas and discussing the upcoming trends regarding all things retail automotive.  The big theme this year centered on the Customer Experience and how dealerships are either moving toward or away from the way most consumers want to shop & interact today.  If you don’t follow DrivingSales already, definitely consider their website and annual events.  They lead the pack as far as I’m concerned.


I know many of you are super busy running stores and moving units, so I’ll be sharing some of the most actionable info from the conference.  These all came from other allied companies during the “Most Valuable Insight Competition.”  If you find them helpful, please pass them along to whoever would benefit.
The first presentation I’ll be discussing is by Adam Kottler over at CallSource. In his presentation, Adam discussed CallSource’s tips for successful fixed ops phone skills, based on 2,464 service calls in 2014 across 132 call handlers.


Here are 6 tips Adam provided for fine-tuning your ops phone skills:

1. Determine Caller Time Frame for Service Needs

When it comes to actually closing appointments with prospective buyers, you need to make sure you’re offering well-defined time frame options for them to choose from. In other words, don’t let buyers casually set a time (ex: anytime from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.) or better yet, no time at all (ex: I’ll come in sometime this afternoon). By providing a closed, or I should say “official” appointment time (1 p.m., 2 p.m., 3p.m., etc.) it creates a mild sense of urgency. If you offer a somewhat limited time options, buyers will feel more inclined to commit and make decisions sooner.


2. Inquire about additional questions or concerns

Even if you think you’ve had the most perfect phone call on the face of the planet, it truly isn’t perfect unless you’ve taken the time to ask your buyers if they have any additional questions or concerns after all is said and done. Not only does this show your utmost professionalism and attention to detail, but also it proves to the customer that you actually care if they’re satisfied with their service or not. You’d be surprised how many salespeople (doesn’t matter what industry) don’t take the time to ask their customers what they want, and it sincerely matters. And for what it’s worth, it’s also a wonderful way to identify upsell opportunities. On the calls surveyed, 6% of operators inquired about other concerns.


3. Obtain the caller’s full name


This might seem like a very obvious step but, believe it or not, a lot of the calls received miss this. While customers don’t like to be asked a multitude of questions, it isn’t going to hurt to ask for their first and last name. Not only is it helpful for building rapport with a customer in order to secure the actual appointment, it’s absolutely essential for accurate record keeping and database management.


4. Identify the Vehicles that needs service

Once you have the caller’s full name and number, you need to identify what vehicle is involved. After receiving this information, the call handler should go through the needs analysis with the end goal of setting an appointment. You want buyers to come in and inquire about add-ons and new products/services in the dealership, so they can try them out for themselves.


5. Establish if the caller is a prior customer


Getting new customers into your service department is a great way to increase ROI and revenue, but prior customers are also extremely valuable. That being said, you want to avoid redundancy as much as humanly possible. If the caller is, in fact, a prior customer, take a moment to confirm their information so that you aren’t going through the same spiel all over again. Identifying them as a repeat customer is also helpful as it shows (to the customer) that they were important or valuable enough to be “remembered” – even if remembering means being kept in a database. It still shows professionalism and attention to detail, plus it makes the process of appointment setting go a lot faster.


6. Ask “How May I Help You?”


It seems simple enough, but certain actions really can make or break a deal. Greeting a customer not only initiates friendly banter, but surprise, surprise; you get to figure out what the heck they want. I was surprised to hear this phrase was only used on 64% of the calls in the study.


Now, once you’ve figured out what a consumer is looking for, it’s time to grab the reigns and steer the conversation in the direction of a scheduled appointment. To do so, you’ll want to continue asking questions that’ll identify their needs and any other services that could be of value.


Check back next week for more of my key takeaways from the conference. If you have any questions or you wanna talk about PERQ’s services, call me anytime at (800) 873 3117.