I have always had a soft spot for those in the BDC.
My first introduction into the automotive industry was in 2011, at the age of 16, when I became a member of the Business Development Center. While I didn’t fully understand the importance that my role had for a dealership, I understood that my job involved setting appointments for customers to come into the showroom and, hopefully, leave in a new vehicle.
It seemed simple enough.
As the years went by and I went from a green newcomer to an established member of the department, I would listen to the things some of the veterans would say to customers. I picked up on how their interactions differed from mine. The small talk, the casual tone that they would take on, the detail that they would go into when describing what our dealership had to offer. In comparison, their appointments seemed to stick way more often than mine did. My calls were often higher, but theirs were of a higher quality. Two different calibers.
I felt that I was looking up at them, still the newcomer trying to figure it all out.
I did everything right. I stuck to the script. I was professional. Why aren’t my appointments sticking? Why am I having a hard time with getting these people to commit?
After some long and often painful self-evaluation, I begin to understand why my appointments weren’t showing up. Below, I’ve compiled a list of methods that others can evaluate and utilize to ensure that they get as many ups into the showroom as possible.
1. Build value in yourself. Every other tip is simply a derivative of this first method. Build value for the customer. This first starts with building value in yourself. If you’re stuttering, stammering, and constantly unsure when answering the customer’s questions, then they are going to be unsure in your merit as a professional. Remember to be mindful of the “Three C’s” method when on the phone. Be calm, confident, and competent.
2. Build value in your dealership. Dealerships get a bad rap. Sometimes it is earned, while other times it is completely unfair. After you have built enough value in yourself to keep the customer on the phone and engaged, begin to build value in your dealership. Describe your offers, why they are better than ABC Ford down the street, and how these offers are going to directly benefit your customer. Keep in mind that chances are, you aren’t talking to a first-time buyer. You’re talking to someone who already has pre-conceived notions about car dealerships, and especially about salespeople. How is your store different than everyone else?
3. Build value in your point of contact. I was blessed enough to usually have a designated person who would handle phone ups. Rather than a cradle-to-grave, eat-what-you-kill kind of store, our BDC worked as a frontline strictly for phone/internet ups. We brought them in, and a few select veteran salespeople would work the deal. Regardless of whether you utilize a manager or a rotation of people who are trained to handle these ups, you have to build value in your point of contact. This method works for a variety of objections. When the customer balks at the idea of having to set an appointment instead of walking in, let them know that it is so your manager can be there to assist them. If they ask a buying question that you don’t know the answer to, such as financing options, let them know that Joe the Sales Manager will be there to answer these questions when they arrive. Building value in your point of contact will let people know that someone is taking the time out of their day to work with them. Not just anyone, but an established member of the dealership who is competent and truly wants to help them. By building value in the point of contact, you will have a much smoother transition to the salesman when they arrive.
4. Get off of the script. Scripts are often treated as directions when they should instead be treated as guidelines. Scripts are not turn-by-turn directions, they are landmarks. Use them as a checklist, cover what you need to, but other than that remember to have a real conversation. The value that comes with a real conversation between you and your customer cannot be overestimated. Simple small talk and pleasantries will go a long way with some people, and will turn others off. You cannot sound like a robot. Speak professionally, but casually. Stop taking it so seriously. Have fun, and keep the client interested in what you have to say. Having a normal conversation will take the edge off of the car-buying experience, and will make them more likely to come to your showroom. It’s all about building a rapport, and even the best script can’t do that for you. It has to come organically.
5. Study your craft. Working in a BDC is a sales job. You need to possess sales skills to do it. How can you expect to be a better salesperson if you are unwilling to train? When I begin to evaluate myself, I realized that I had no idea that a basic-level understanding of sales and psychology could help me in my day-to-day life. I treated my job as more of a customer service job when I should have viewed it as what it was; a sales job. Study your craft. Read a book or two on sales. Look into why people make commitments, what makes consumers buy. By having even a surface-level understanding of these things, it will set you and your dealership apart from 90% of the rest. If you want to grow, then you need to take the steps to do so. Study your craft, train regularly, and you will transform accordingly.
These five methods are things that I learned through trials and tribulations of my time in the BDC. These concepts are simple, and ready-to-use. They can be implemented in an instant if you are willing to take a step back, evaluate yourself, and evaluate the members of your BDC/Internet Sales Team. It is a department that can often get neglected, but one that can increase the revenue of your store tenfold if they are trained on how to do so.
The next time that you have a no-show, walk down the hallway to visit your team.
You just might find out why.