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Cold Calls: Separating Trash from Treasure

There are, quite a few companies out there worthy of your time and have the potential of making, or saving, money for you. But which ones deserve your attention? Remember, your time is precious.

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Getting calls from vendors can be dreadful. How dare someone call and try to sell you something you need to run your business successfully? Don’t they understand they’re distracting you from doing what needs to be done? You’ve got to maintain the day-to-day needs of your dealership, including the daily upkeep of your business operations, all while putting out the hourly fires that seem to keep popping up.

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While all of this is going on, there is, however, an inside scoop that some of us know, but often gets lost because there’s too much going on. The secret is that there are some spectacular products and services out there. But how will you, Mr. or Ms. Dealer, ever learn about these offerings if all you have time for is reacting? If you refuse to listen to the multitude of people who call and claim to have the latest and greatest offering, how will your dealership environment ever progress? Is being proactive even possible?

This seems to be a consistent problem, most notably in the automotive world, as there seem to be at least 10 people every hour trying to sell the exact same thing to you again and again. Another DMS? The newest, latest, greatest training program? Online training? TV spot? Direct marketing? What about that new product launch we’ve got to do next week to keep our OEM happy?

Yes, I know. This is your world.

You get literally thousands of cold calls each year and, if you let them be, they can easily overwhelm you and become infuriating.

There are, however, quite a few companies out there worthy of your time and have the potential of making — or saving — money for you. But which ones deserve your attention? Remember, your time is precious.

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Here’s how it should work. As the principal of a company or the lucky one worthy of being forwarded an incoming call from a vendor, it is by default your responsibility to listen to the incoming caller for 30 to 60 seconds. I hate to break the news to you, but this is a part of your job and what you are getting paid for. Then, given their tone, inflection and evident effort put into their initial presentation, you can determine whether they are worthy of an additional minute or two. If so, give it to them, but only if they have a product or service that has the potential of filling a void, saving you money or, better yet, offering something unique that allows you to sell more cars and make more money.

Over time, you’ll get better at determining who knows what they are talking about and who has the potential of fulfilling their promise that their product or service can help your dealership.

Let’s face it — some people sell garbage, can’t put a sentence together and are a sincere waste of your time. That doesn’t change the fact, though, that there are some outstanding representatives who are sincere, honest and represent a company that can become an extension of your team.

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I have had the good fortune of working with and training some of the best salespeople in the region. These are people who I’ve seen go to bat for their clients, internally getting rates dropped across the board while fighting for product upgrades and improvements. These reps aren’t the norm, but they do exist. You’ve just got to seek them out and then give them a chance to prove themselves.

One of the many ways you find these professionals is not at NADA but over the phone. If you do not give them the time of day, though, how will you ever know if you might have passed up on the opportunity of the year? Did you just miss the one who might have put you over the top to meet or exceed your annual goal?

At NADA, everyone puts on his or her best face and suit because it’s the show of the year. However, in that setting, there’s no time to really learn about a product or service — or the people and company behind it. Over the phone, though, you’ll get to experience first hand the reality of what your long-term relationship could be like with this person. Test them. Take the time to get to know them. Learn about what they are trying to sell you. After a two- to three-minute window, if you’re still lost, move on. But if not, if you are intrigued, ask them to email you a summary of their company, offerings, an example of their work and a reference or two. Then, either follow up and read more about the company or delegate this responsibility.

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It’s important to do your research on the newest, latest, greatest thing, not necessarily to jump on it, but to at least to learn what’s out there. A big part of this effort involves becoming more receptive to the many cold callers coming to your door daily. It’s perfectly all right if you initially chose to delegate some of this responsibility to someone you trust. As long as you get involved before it’s time to decide, you should be good to go. Stay ahead of the curve. Salespeople in the automotive world, in my opinion, have the hardest job out there, so give them a chance.

Be kind, be courteous and always be listening to others to learn what’s out there and what can improve your dealership’s current processes. Choose to grow in 2017. It is a proactive choice, and the choice is yours.

Laura Czarnecki

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