Sales people and service advisors can learn a lot about a prospect through body language and facial expressions. In fact, these non-verbal cues account for 80 percent of communication. Communicating over the phone, however, poses a host of challenges for sales and service associates and business development reps. Here are a few tips for effective telephone communications.
Everyone has time constraints in their lives, so you don’t want to waste anyone’s time. Still, it’s always good to have a shared experience with the customer. It might be as simple as, “Hi, I just got back from lunch, and what a spectacular day out there! Hope you’re having a good day, how can I help you?” Sometimes it may be inappropriate, but most often sharing an experience with a prospect makes for better communication.
FOCUS ON THE CALLER
Make sure you don’t have your cell phone near you. You don’t want an incoming text or email or social media update to distract you from your caller. Avoid distractions like radios, loud noises, and use a headset to lower background noise. Typically, you’ll be in a setting with others on other calls. Be respectful of them, and they should be respectful of you.
CHECK THE EMOTIONS
When friends call us we can usually tell whether they are happy, sad, upset, worried, or excited without them telling you how they feel. It comes from learning nuances of frequent interactions. You don’t have that with an inbound caller. What you do have are frequent interactions with many customers. You learn the words and tones that tell you their level of concern. Empathize with a customer if they sound frustrated or upset. If they are happy and excited, maintain that energy by matching it with positivity.
One of the most frequent errors a rep makes is not getting multiple points of contact for people. Home numbers and email addresses alone will not typically result in reconnecting with the prospect. Get cell phone numbers, a work number (if the consumer agrees), and ask them whether it’s okay to send a text. Listen carefully to their needs. What do they want? When do they want it? Make and save notes.
VERIFY THE INFORMATION
By writing down the caller’s needs or concerns you’ll have a great tool, especially if you accurately enter the information in the dealership’s CRM. It’s important, however, to make sure what you’ve written down is what the customer said. If you’ve had difficulty hearing them, and are not sure what you have is accurate, take the time to verify it with the customer. It’s better to ask them to repeat the date and time they want to come in, rather than enter it into the system incorrectly
There’s nothing more frustrating for an inbound caller than to be interrupted by the person who answered the phone. Listen carefully, and when it’s appropriate quickly recap so you are both clear as to the purpose of the call. “So you want some details on the new Mustang we have listed on our website?” Once they agree, work toward giving the caller what they want. It’s easy to try to pre-empt an objection by cutting off a caller, but it always results in some level of anger or frustration. It’s best to let the customer object, then respond effectively.
By practicing your scripts and role playing with fellow associates, you can improve your skills and gain the confidence necessary for a prospect to hear when they call. Work on overcoming objections, and develop strategies that eliminates them coming up in the first place.
AVOID ONE-SIZE FITS ALL
Because you’ve fielded so many calls, it’s easy to try and use past solutions on a new caller. By focusing on what worked in the past, you are not listening to what this new customer is saying to you right now. It’s better to hear them out, then solve their problem or concern. If it’s a solution that worked before, so be it.
MEET YOUR GOALS
We all have goals we make to improve our lives, but having expectations placed on us is something that makes us uncomfortable. Keep this in mind — goals should make us uncomfortable. Achieving what you’ve not achieved before requires hard work, repetition, failure, and a willingness to leave your comfort zone. Practice being a better listener, and your ability to set more appointments resulting in more cars sold will improve.