To many people a car is more than just transportation, it’s a part of their identity. Getting the wrong car is like getting ugly shoes, a bad haircut, and an outfit that looks like it belongs on someone else’s parents all at once. Not to mention that it’s the second most expensive purchase most people make, so a lot of research goes into avoiding 72 months of image-distorting buyer’s remorse. And once the shiny new car is in the driveway, you gotta do more footwork to make sure you take your baby to a reputable service center.
With nearly endless options available and plenty at risk, the car buying and maintenance journey is often long and complex. Everyone’s automotive buying journey is different, but there is one constant — phone calls. When people are purchasing a car or auto repair services, they like to speak to a real person. These conversations allow them to get answers to their specific questions and reassurance about the purchase they’re about to make. In fact, Invoca’s Buyer Experience Report found that 61% of automotive consumers will call at some point during their journey.
How well your team assists these callers is critical to your success as a car dealership, repair shop, or OEM. The last thing you want to do is make them feel pressured or misled — that’s a surefire way to reaffirm the stereotype of the sleazy used car salesman. More than anything, your agents need to be empathetic to the buyer. When you give consumers all the information they need to make informed purchase decisions, you’ll earn their loyalty and achieve better business outcomes.
This blog shares our top five criteria for a successful automotive sales and service call. It also covers how leading automotive sales and service companies use Invoca conversation intelligence to score their calls at scale, improve coaching, and boost close rates.
1. Greet the Caller with a Warm and Welcoming Introduction
The first step to a successful automotive sales or service call is to greet the caller with a warm introduction. Simply saying “sales” or stating the name of your business can sound cold and unwelcoming. Instead, you should introduce yourself and ask who you have the pleasure of speaking with.
If the caller is a new customer, it’s important to ask for any relevant contact information you need from the caller so that you can add it to your CRM and reengage them in the future.
2. Understand the Caller’s Intent
After you’ve greeted the caller, the next step is to understand their intent — why they’re calling and what they hope to get out of the conversation.
Understanding intent for vehicle sales
If you’re in automotive sales, you’ll want to start by asking the caller if they have a specific model they’re interested in. If they do, you should confirm the vehicle’s availability so they don’t waste their time coming in to test drive a car that’s not on your lot.
If you don’t have the car the caller is interested in — or if they aren’t sure what model they want — you should do a needs analysis. What are they currently driving? What do they like or dislike about their current car? Will they be trading in their current vehicle? Do they want performance features? Do they need safety features for their kids? How often do they haul or tow things? How much cargo room do they need? What is their ideal budget?
Once you understand what kind of car the customer wants and why they want it, you can give them a variety of options that fit their unique needs and budget.
Understanding intent for auto service and repair
If you’re in the auto parts, service, or repair business, you should ask the caller what brings them to your shop. Do they need regularly scheduled maintenance or do they have a problem to diagnose? If they have a problem with their vehicle, get as much information as you can about it upfront so you can prepare your technicians for their visit.
3. Create Urgency
Once you understand what vehicle or service the caller is interested in, the next step is to create urgency. This will help you secure the appointment and avoid a lagging sales cycle.
Creating urgency for vehicle sales
If you’re a car dealer, it shouldn’t be too hard to create urgency — after all, there’s currently an inventory shortage. If you have their desired vehicle available, that should be reason enough for them to schedule an onsite or offsite vehicle presentation or demonstration.
Another way to create interest and urgency is to appeal to the senses. Has the caller had the opportunity to sit in and drive the vehicle of interest yet? Remind the caller of the simple things like new car smell, and ask if they want to feel what it’s like to rev the engine. You’d be surprised at how well these sensory details can inspire action.
Creating urgency for auto service
This step isn’t as important for auto service — if the caller is experiencing an issue with their car, that’s often reason enough for them to come in. With inflation putting pressure on everyone’s wallets, though, many people may be shopping prices so it’s definitely worth mentioning any promotions or financing offers you have available to get them in the door.
If they’re putting off regularly scheduled maintenance, on the other hand, then you could gently remind them of the risks of skipping an appointment.
4. Overcome Caller Objections
At this point in the conversation, the caller may have some objections. If you want to secure an appointment from them, you’ll need to overcome these in a way that inspires confidence.
Handling objections for vehicle sales
If you work at a dealership, you should be prepared to handle these two main objections from the caller:
- How much is it?
- Why should I buy from you?
For pricing inquiries, ask, “Are you talking about the price on the sticker? Or are you like me and everyone else and you’re planning to make monthly payments?” Breaking down the pricing by month will allow callers to get a better picture of how they would pay off the vehicle. Be sure to give them options to own as well as lease the vehicle. You should also ask them if they are planning to make a trade-in, as this could earn them a significant discount. Finally, if there’s an upcoming sale or 0% APR financing event, be sure to highlight that as well.
The “Why should I buy from you?” question isn’t always explicit — if your agents are helpful and callers feel they can trust them, this objection will get cleared up all by itself. Examples of “why should I buy from you?” may include unique selling propositions such as lifetime oil changes, home delivery, local community contributions, or previous customer reviews.
5. Ask for the Appointment
Once you’ve handled the caller’s objections, it’s time to set up an appointment. This step isn’t as simple as you may think — there are a few best practices you should follow here to ensure the caller’s visit is a success.
Closing the call for vehicle sales
The first tip is to ask the caller “either-or” questions when scheduling the appointment. For example, “Do you want to come in tomorrow or later this week?” This phrasing makes you more likely to secure the appointment, as it nudges the caller towards taking action.
Next, you should describe exactly how the appointment experience will go. For example, where will the caller park, who will greet them when they enter the dealership, and will they test drive one vehicle or multiple vehicles. This puts the caller at ease and sets their expectations.
If you have a feeling the caller will be a no-show to their appointment, ask them if they’d like you to have a hot or cold drink ready for them when they arrive at the dealership. Offering to do this favor for them will usually make them show their hand.
If the caller doesn’t feel ready for an appointment yet, send them additional information as a fallback, so they have all the details they need to reengage with you when they’re ready.
Closing the sales call for auto service and repair
An important appointment scheduling tip for service and repair shops is to set up appointments on quarter-hour marks, rather than on the hour. It’s been proven that setting up appointments at the quarter-hour marks makes customers more likely to show up on time. These time slots increase urgency and they’re more likely to stick in the customer’s mind. As you know, when your customers show up on time, it increases the profitability of your shop and allows you to complete your repairs more efficiently.
Additionally, it’s especially important for auto service shops to describe exactly how the experience will go. The customer, after all, will have to turn in their car. You should ask the caller if they’re planning to wait, rent a car, get driven by a friend or family member, or Uber back to their residence. You can then help them plan their experience accordingly.
Using Conversation Intelligence to Close More Sales Leads
You now have five criteria for a successful sales and service call. As you’re probably aware, giving your team the scripts and guidelines for a successful sales call is one thing — but arming them with the tools and coaching they need to close more leads is a whole new ballgame.
Score and QA 100% of your automotive sales and service calls with conversation intelligence
You need to do regular quality assurance to score calls and understand where your agents are falling short and where they’re excelling. Managing dozens or even hundreds of agents across many business locations can be challenging, and many dealerships and automotive repair businesses only score a small fraction of their calls — if they’re performing any call QA at all.
Some rely on mystery shoppers, others have managers listen to calls or recordings, but either way you’ll still only get a glimpse of how your sales staff is actually performing. Worse yet, manually scoring samples of calls like this is frequently inaccurate — you might be catching your best salesperson on their worst day or your worst on their best — and there are opportunities for bias abound.
To meet this challenge, automotive sales teams are using conversation intelligence solutions like Invoca. Using Invoca, dealerships and automotive service businesses can automatically QA and score 100% of their sales calls, even if they are transferred from another location or a call center. This enables them to get a comprehensive and objective view of sales agent performance — without sitting around listening to hundreds of phone calls. Invoca uses AI score calls based on your custom criteria (hopefully you use a few of the ones above!) to see exactly how every agent is performing.
When you spend less time listening to calls and looking for problems, you can spend more time coaching salespeople to help them close more leads and provide better experiences for all of your customers.
Use conversation intelligence to locate teachable moments from your agents’ calls
Not only does Invoca automate your QA process, it also helps you take your agent coaching to the next level. You can monitor how every salesperson and location is performing, and quickly dive into specific calls for review without waiting because call recordings, transcripts, and call scores are available immediately after calls end. This means you can immediately address issues before they get out of hand and reinforce good techniques when they’re still fresh in the mind of the salesperson.
Invoca can also help you improve the morale of your sales teams because they know that the call scores are objective and the immediate feedback empowers them to improve their performance. Invoca enables in-platform coaching tools like the ability to @mention agents and annotate call transcripts to give them real-time feedback on their performance. You can also give salespeople access to their own scorecards so they can evaluate their performance and make changes on the fly.
Since salespeople tend to be a competitive bunch, you can even create leaderboards and incentivize call handling performance. Since you’re scoring 100% of calls and AI is handling the scoring, your people know the incentives are fair and attainable.
Arm your agents with digital intent data
Leading automotive sales teams also use conversation intelligence to arm their agents with digital intent data that helps them provide more personalized service. Before the caller is connected, agents receive a screenpop that shows information about the caller’s digital journey, such as the keyword, ad group, and website pages the caller engaged with. With these insights, agents can preemptively pull up the information they’ll need to tailor the conversation — such as the vehicle model the caller viewed and information about dealerships near their location — and spend more time getting a deep understanding of the customer’s needs.
Want to learn more about how conversation intelligence can help you improve your QA process and boost sales close rates? Check out these resources:
- How Automotive Businesses Use Conversation Intelligence to Outperform the Competition
- AutoNation + Invoca Case Study
- Invoca for the Automotive Industry