“The telephone is virtual reality in that you can meet with someone as if you are together, at least for the auditory sense.” – Ray Kurzweil
You look in the mirror before stepping on the sales floor. You stand up straight, look people in the eye, smile and start another day in the dealership.
Your face-to-face people skills are just one part of the sales process, though. Often, before the customer sets foot inside the dealership, they’ve already contacted you, or another member of your sales team, on the phone or via email. To bring them into the showroom, you’ve got to make sure your voice and text skills are up to the task.
Telephone Skills The customer walks into the showroom, and it’s your turn to greet them. Begrudgingly, you walk towards them, shoulders slouched. You welcome them, your tone telling them they’ve interrupted your day. Ridiculous? Sure, but if you wouldn’t greet a customer that way in person, you certainly shouldn’t do it on the telephone.Thanks to the mobile Web — and the ability to connect with dealerships on the phone directly from links — phone Ups are actually increasing. Make sure your phone skills are as polished as your in-person presentation.
Smile — It’s been proven that people can tell if you’re smiling from the tone of your voice. Potential customers can be nervous to contact you; it’s when their shopping process goes from “theoretical” to “actual.” Put them at ease from the beginning, and let them know you’re there to help them, not “sell” them.
Speak Clearly — Enunciate and use the proper volume. If you have a tendency to run words together as you get excited (and after all, bringing customers in the door can be exciting), make yourself slow down. If a customer is asking you to repeat yourself, you’re not making a good impression.
Practice — It’s difficult to tell how strong your phone game is; you don’t regularly hear yourself in action. Run diction drills with your co-workers and record yourself. Listen honestly to your performance, and mark places where you can improve. Ask your manager or co-workers for constructive criticism.
Some customers feel more comfortable making first contact via email, text or chat. These customers feel that the stakes are lower, there’s more time to think and they are more at ease to begin the process.
Watch Your Grammar — You are a professional, and the potential steward of one of their largest financial transactions. Put the customer at ease by using proper English grammar. Who would you rather do business with: “What type of vehicle were you thinking of?” or “Wat R U looking 4?”
Don’t Get Too Comfortable — It’s easy to feel informal when in email or chat conversations. Keep in mind, though, that there are different rules between chatting with a customer and texting with friends. Even if the customer’s tone is casual (and possibly error-ridden), keep your side of the conversation friendly but professional.
Edit Yourself — Run your emails through a spelling and grammar check (using a word processing program or one of several online proofers) before hitting “send.” Your messages don’t have to be immaculate, but they shouldn’t be riddled with typos, either. Think of it as looking in the mirror before walking out on the sales floor.
You only get one first impression with a new customer; take the necessary steps to make sure you’re not getting in your own way.