This is the final installment of the CRISP series. Click the names to connect to the previous articles:
I’m sure you don’t need convincing that good things happen when you get your agents making their calls. Most dealers know outbound calling is important, but statistically speaking, they’re only reaching their intended party on outbound calls about 8 percent of the time (yikes). This means 92 percent of outbound calls at a dealership are a total waste of time. If dealers understand the importance of outbound calls, why is this happening at such a high rate?
Outbound live conversations are so low because employees aren’t being held accountable to making quality outbound calls. The “P” metric of Car Wars’ CRISP, a simple yet effective methodology designed to help the automotive industry enhance its phone performance, helps managers do more than just count dials.
P stands for Pursue. It’s all about Pursuing callers who never reached someone who could help them, Pursuing unsalvaged opportunities and Pursuing the highest level of customer experience possible. Change your team’s mentality toward making their dials and don’t let interested callers slip through the cracks.
To better drive this home, let’s take a look at a poor outbound call strategy and how we can transform it into a grand one.
Miyan’s Minimal Effort
Let me introduce you to Miyan. He’s a salesman at Phoenix’s busiest Toyota dealership. Miyan makes anywhere from 10 to 20 outbound calls on an average day. With an absence of focus on having meaningful, “live” (meaning being ear to ear) conversations with customers, he’s lucky to have one live outbound conversation each day. He bangs out calls to reach his required dialing amount before 9 a.m., paying no attention to when the customer might be most available to pick up the phone. To his managers, Miyan is killing the game. He’s reaching his required outbound calls and sounds great on the phone — loud, confident, proud. But in reality, Miyan’s calls are continually hitting voicemail, every dealer’s worst nightmare.
What went well: Miyan is picking up his phone. He’s dialing. His activity is better than zero calls that result in zero business opportunities. For the chance to connect on even one live call, it’s always worth it to pick up the phone. Especially since most people fear making outbound calls (seriously, I looked on Amazon and there are at least 503 books dedicated to getting over this sales fear), Miyan is stepping out of his comfort zone and putting himself out there.
What needed improvement: Yes, 10 to 20 calls are better than zero, but Miyan isn’t at the threshold to see real results. Look at the facts here: Miyan is trying to get ahead for the day by cranking out his assigned dials before 9 a.m. A parent trying to get children out the door for school and packing lunches isn’t able to pick up the phone. A full-time employee with an 8 a.m. conference call, a 9 a.m. team strategy meeting and a 10 a.m. board meeting isn’t able to pick up the phone. Miyan’s dialing game plan needs to change, especially since successful agents typically connect on 20 to 35 percent of outbound calls.
For years dealers have focused on simple call counts or mere dials when measuring outbound activity. They prescribe a minimum quota of X dials per day and hope the calls lead to meaningful discussions and outcomes. The result is generally poor performance; agents tend to do whatever they need to do to blow through their calls. They make all required calls in a single hour with little concern for actually reaching their intended party. To inflate outbound calling numbers, some agents even get creative with their call habits by calling the pharmacy down the street, their significant other or maybe even a relative.
The bottom line is, outbound calls for the sake of dials are a waste of time and money. Focus on the metric that matters most: live conversations, rather than the number of times an agent picked up the phone. Changing your dealership’s mentality encourages everyone to be smart about their outbound calling efforts.
Miyan’s Marvelous Effort
It’s another average week for Miyan. He’s handling his daily call count the same way he always has. Then something happens. Miyan sees his managers moving their desks near the sales team in order to better manage phone performance. After Miyan learns of this, things get interesting quick.
If you saw the calling data before and after Miyan discovered his performance was being monitored, his activity immensely changed. The day he noticed the management decision, he made 33 outbound calls and had 17 live conversations. By simply increasing outbound call volume, the chance of having live conversations increases. But there’s another factor at play here; Miyan began working smarter, not harder, by calling customers when he thought they’d be most likely to pick up. That parent from his previous poor strategy? He made a call at 10 a.m. after the kids got to school. The full-time office worker? He made a call during lunchtime. Miyan shifted his strategy to call when each prospect was most likely to pick up.
What went well: Let’s take a look at what happened here. Judging Miyan’s transformation, it’s clear that monitoring activity enhances performance; what gets measured gets managed. It’s the Hawthorne Effect at play: once individuals know their performance is being monitored, they’ll improve. Furthermore, Miyan alone was much more active in Pursuing callers because he knew his managers were paying attention.
What needed improvement: This was definitely an improvement on Miyan’s end. So how can you get your sales team on top of its dials like Miyan? I’ve cooked up a couple ideas you can start implementing to continually enforce outbound accountability. Feel free to share these with your team.
- Stop giving credit for dials. This one is huge. All sales agents know how to get their dials and talk time up without ever having a live conversation with a customer. (Remember, some might be calling CVS a bunch of times to make it seem like they’re working.) Managers should be giving credit for live conversations, as live conversations provide the chance to help more customers, salvage more opportunities, book more appointments and sell more cars. Who doesn’t want that?
- Prioritize your calling efforts. The phone is one of your most valuable sales tools, and should be treated as such. As quickly as possible, call back those callers who reached voicemail, were disconnected or weren’t offered an appointment invitation. They’re your hottest leads.
- Work smarter, not harder. Learn from Miyan’s minimal effort and train agents to first shift their mentality toward making their calls, then second, to call at the most opportune time when their prospects are most likely to answer.
- Managers should be getting on the phones, too! I suggest teeing up the missed opportunity rescue calls and soft appointment confirmation calls to yourself and fellow managers. If you read my last article, I talk all about soft appointments and the pitfalls resulting from them.
- Make appointment confirmation calls. To reduce no shows, see more showroom traffic, boost customer satisfaction and have some fun! Call and send an email to prospects who have an appointment scheduled with your name, face, contact details, appointment information, and that you’re looking forward to helping him or her find the right car. Heck, throw in a selfie of you with their vehicle of interest. Emotion sells cars.
- Thoughtfully engage with callers. For new hires, phone scripts are important so they can get a feel for how to handle each type of call. Once an agent becomes more comfortable on the phone, it’s important he or she customizes responses and empathetically engages with callers. No one is looking to buy from an agent who sounds like a robot on the other end of the phone.
You’re hitting all your targets and getting your leads into the store. You can’t afford to slack on those outbound calls now. Do more with the leads you’ve already worked hard to get — Pursue your customers by making time for follow up and outbound calling. It’s what will set your team apart from the competition and show you truly care about providing a top-notch customer experience.
Most salespeople are afraid of making their calls. It’s just human nature; they don’t want to feel rejected if they’re saying the wrong thing or aren’t up-to-date on their product knowledge. With that in mind, how do you motivate your staff to make outbound calls?
Comment below with your tricks. Looking forward to hearing your tips and adding to my list!