What Every BDC Needs: Skills, Not Scripts

November 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Glynn Rodean - Also by this author

Skills are what will separate your dealership’s business development center (BDC) from what customers consider the stereotypical car-buying experience to be, and skills in the BDC revolve around understanding, alignment and communication. Skills can make your dealership stand out from all the other stores in your market.

A BDC should make people feel comfortable and excited about the dealership at the same time. To do that, it’s imperative that a business development representative (BDR) sound sincere and speak with customers in a non-confrontational, leading manner. Dependence on scripts or rebuttals in the BDC will not do the job. Rebuttal means argument and that is exactly what scripts are preparing for. Human instinct will drive someone in an argument into a fight-or-flight mode. Oftentimes, the person in flight mode takes the road of least resistance and sets an appointment with no intention of showing up.

When you think of how your BDRs are communicating with your customers, consider the breakdown of how communication is transmitted—63 percent of communication is body language, 30 percent is tonality and only seven percent is the actual words we use. Of course, an understandable misconception is that the 63 percent attributed to body language is eliminated when talking on the phone. It is not, and there are two reasons for that. One, it is difficult to sound like you are smiling while you’re actually frowning, and two, body language and tonality go hand in hand.

Being a “type A” personality (BDRs need to be able to identify all three personalities and adjust accordingly), I am a classic example of someone with an intense, fast-paced tone. By slowing down my hand gestures, etc., my tone follows suit. Training and practicing effective communication skills empowers us to speak with common tone and wording. Commonality equals rapport, and rapport is what sells an appointment. 

If you train on just scripts, you’re putting your money (and possibly your ROI) on that seven percent of communication; you’re just training on what is said. I believe in training people on why, not just what and how. Training BDRs to use impact wording and put emphasis on certain words can make a world of difference in people’s perception, which, to them, is reality. The 93 percent of communication made of body language and tonality can be utilized over the phone. How else does one sell the “sizzle” of a dealership over the phone?

Also, because scripts focus on what is said, BDRs reading from them tend to sound robotic. No one likes to be on the phone with someone who sounds as if he or she is reading from a script. It’s impersonal and insincere. Even if someone has a script down pat, it doesn’t create sincerity. While the best way to sound sincere is to be genuinely sincere, watching where and how you enunciate your words will create sincerity in your voice.

Additionally, insincerity detected in a script reader’s voice feeds into the customer’s fear or perception of the car-buying experience—one where the salesperson pushes what he or she wants the customer to buy and worries only about profit. A skillful BDR doesn’t need a script to figuratively validate price as being important. They need to identify with the customer (alignment), get a target budget range and then lead the call by asking an assumptive question like, “Aside from price, what would you say is the next most important factor—safety or performance?”

By utilizing assumptive questioning, you let customers know that you’re not avoiding or just focusing on money or price, and from their answer, you can find a point of commonality, which is very important. Establishing a point of commonality helps put the prospect at ease and makes overcoming objections later in the conversation easier for the BDR. Sincerity is a breeze in a skillful conversation.

Too many BDCs and call centers rely on scripts today. Now, I’m not saying BDRs should be just talking from memory. It is a good idea for BDRs to have a guide in front of them with important reminders. For example, the explanation guide used in my BDC reminds BDRs to obtain important contact information, including two phone numbers. Items mentioned on the guide are the law of reciprocation and the need to validate and pace to effectively lead a customer to your front door!

Also, when examining how BDRs speak on the phone, changing the word order of a sentence or two can have a positive influence on a customer. For example, instead of saying, “If for any reason your contact person is running late, I’ll give you a courtesy call. Will you do the same for me?” That may get a yes, but it does not program the subconscious to actually call. But, if you were to say, “If for any reason your contact person is running late, I’ll give you the courtesy of a call.”

See the difference? You give the caller “courtesy” in the second set of sentences instead of “a call” like in the first set. Change the subject, then ask, “If for any reason you were running late, what would you do?” It gives us another chance to thank them and more times than not, when posed with being late, someone who said what they would do versus just answering a yes/no question will actually call. A customer who calls to say they are running late is a customer who will show and likely buy.

Like other skill sets, BDC skills aren’t accomplished overnight. While there’s a learning curve and some trainees can hone their skills in a week or two, I suggest a minimum of five to 30 days of training and grooming before a BDR is working alone on the phone. My BDRs receive at least eight hours of classroom training, eight hours of role playing, shadowing, testing and retesting. We, of course, have the luxury of working in a BDC training center, but anywhere can work. Plus, once they’re skilled BDRs, they continue to have a mentor, as well as becoming a mentor to new BDRs. Mentoring breeds consistency.

Two additional mandatory aspects of my BDCs (in-house or outsourced) are mirrors in front of every computer monitor and coaches. The mirrors are to help the BDRs maintain the proper tonality; I’ve never seen anyone frowning while talking on the phone in an upbeat voice. To convey genuine sincerity, they need to have the same game face on whether the customers are on the phone or in front of them at the dealership (sales reps take notice). The team leaders (coaches) “circle the wagons” throughout the center as they listen to calls, load lips and look for BDRs needing a T.O. It’s far too easy (and far too common) for the atmosphere in a BDC or call center to get boring, and the coaching, whether weekly or monthly, helps ward off boredom, keep skills fresh and push the needle with training and incentives for greater production.

When skills are the foundation of a BDC, customers attribute keeping their appointments to the BDRs—which is a compliment to the skill-level of a BDR. Train, practice and role-play regularly to learn communication skills for better influence and persuasion. Aristotle summed it up perfectly: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Develop your BDRs’ skills and make excellence the habit of your BDC.

Remember, habit is either our best friend or worst enemy.

Vol 5, Issue 10


  1. 1. Roxy Noah [ March 09, 2015 @ 06:47PM ]

    How will this work for a one person BDC? I have joined a company who has never had a BDC and tried to explain to them that it is not a one person job and that I don't have the managerial skills to do it by myself. I am wanting to make it work so that I may talk them into a full BDC team with 2 BDR and a manager. I myself have been in customer service for the service dept yet the sales dept is totally new to me. Please help, I'm open to any suggestions you may have. This segment has help me in that I need to know how to ask my customer instead of stating what I am here to do for them. We don't have a customer service for sales so I am also doing that job too. That is inhibiting my progress on lead calls and I also have no access to leads. Your help will be greatly appreciated if you are able to assist. Thank you!

  2. 2. Dan Saraiva [ October 25, 2016 @ 08:33AM ]

    Wow. Tough job but make the most of your time and make sure you are answering every lead that comes in within a certain time limit, normally within 15 minutes. You also want to make calls to each customer and then send a personal response to them based off the call you made. Build rapport with your customer and give them a reason to set an appointment to stop in. Manage your time since being a one person team can be quite challenging due to having to step out for lunch and missing calls. The more you present yourself with reports with the amount of calls coming in and the calls being made along with the amount of leads you must respond to should open up the managers eyes to wards adding a few more people. It has to be cost effective for the dealer so present properly. Good luck

  3. 3. Linda Reyes [ July 10, 2017 @ 12:53PM ]

    great tool


Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  



Jim Ziegler
Stupid Is as Stupid Does

By Jim Ziegler
The Alpha Dawg charts the brief rise and long fall of Johan de Nysschen, the recently departed president of Cadillac and author of the business plan that effectively crowned Lincoln as the new king of American luxury.

They Finally Killed Somebody

By Jim Ziegler
Ziegler believes Uber’s directors should face criminal charges for their role in an Arizona woman’s violent death.

20 Things a GM Must Do Every Week

By Jim Ziegler

All Things Must Pass

By Jim Ziegler

Opening Observations

They Took Cadillac for a Ride

By Tariq Kamal
Hindsight is 20/20, but at least one industry member saw GM’s latest mishap coming a mile away.

Stand Up and Be Counted

By Tariq Kamal
The Dealers’ Choice Awards are the Yelp of vendors and finance sources.

Over the Curb

This Is Us: Dealer Edition

By Jason Heard
Heard knows delegation and outsourcing are the quickest path to a work-life balance.