Article

On the Phone with the SF Customer

February 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Glynn Rodean - Also by this author



BDR intuition is the skill to know which direction to take at the fork in the road during customer interactions. Ad and lead sourcing helps make this simple by identifying credit issues early. Being on point and having BDR intuition when speaking with a special finance customer is vital because these potential buyers are likely filling out multiple credit applications.

Once you’ve uncovered that someone has subprime credit, use communication skills and persuasion techniques to build rapport and let the customer know you’re the right dealer to do business with. Validate the fact that the customer is looking at the big picture and understands how important having a good credit score is. Let SF customers know that buying a car from you and keeping up-to-date on payments can help improve their credit. Make the customer feel good about what they’re doing, and above all, be sincere. Part of why I recommend using skills when on the phone instead of just scripts is because relying solely on a script can make a person sound like a robot, which completely lacks sincerity and certainly does nothing to differentiate the dealership.

Once you’ve established rapport, instill a sense of confidence. Utilize influential techniques to take them off the market. Inform them of how submitting multiple credit applications can adversely affect their credit score and that some dealers may submit multiple applications to finance companies on their behalf without telling them, further affecting their credit. Some finance companies get a little leery of a customer applying to multiple finance sources, so let the customer know that you are their advocate.

Once you’ve formed a bond with the customer, start using  “us” and “we” to help solidify the relationship. . Next, move into assumptive questioning to set an appointment. “Is today or tonight best for you?” Then, nail down a specific time. If they say they can come in around 2:00 p.m., say, “I’m looking at the appointment calendar, and I see a 2:10 available.”

If the customer confirms the specific time, ask without a pause, “Do you have a pen handy? I’ll wait.” By not pausing after the question and immediately saying you’ll wait, you don’t give customers the option to just say they have a pen when they really don’t. Then, once they have a pen, give them a confirmation number, directions to the dealership, appointment time, name of the salesperson/manager/credit specialist they’ll meet with, stips and a callback number.

If during the conversation the customer starts asking specific questions about a car, interest rate or payment, it’s important to use the Boomerang system to overcome any objections in a non-rebuttal or -insincere manner and bring the conversation back around to what’s most important—finding the right vehicle for the customer that’s within his or her budget. Some dealerships take credit applications and answer these questions over the phone, but I recommend bringing the customer to the dealership for that part of the process. What you don’t want to do is start over-promising. If you under-promise and over-deliver, you’ll exceed expectations every day, and the opposite can be said if you over-promise and under-deliver.

You can also tell the customer, “I don’t want to limit our options too early, and it would make more sense for someone who works in the finance office to help you with these questions. Not being licensed in F&I, I would be doing you an injustice by quoting you a rate right now.” Emphasize that  “our” credit specialists have great relationships with our many finance companies. Explain that their appointment is with a person who will guide them through the process and explain all of their options.

The one exception is if the customer lives a considerable distance away from the dealership. You need to determine the driving distance threshold on answering deal-specific questions over the phone. When on the phone with customers who live far away and want to submit a credit application, walk them through filling out a credit application on your Web site, and while you’re doing this, reiterate the importance of not submitting multiple credit applications.   

Notate every significant detail into the CRM. These are for intelligent use when working with the customer upon arrival. If while on the phone the customer shared information about down payment or monthly payments, make note of that. The communication and rapport-building skills you use when speaking with SF customers over the phone can make or break a sale. The customer may have already been to other dealerships and been treated poorly, so by creating a good relationship with the customer on the phone, you can immediately differentiate your dealership from competitors and not just sell a vehicle to them, but to everyone they know!

Vol. 6, Issue 12

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