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8 Tips for Effective Blind Calls

February 2008, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Mike Snider

In special finance, one of the most important steps of the sales process is appointment setting. Effective appointment setting can increase closing percentages by leaps and bounds. Considering the fact that most prospects must physically visit the dealership before a deal can be closed, appointment setting can oftentimes make or break a deal. One of the toughest appointment calls to make is a blind call. This means that the lead originated from some type of blind advertising source, or a lead that was purchased from a third-party Internet lead provider. Although I strongly believe in blind advertising and the use of third-party Internet lead providers, one of the pitfalls to each of these marketing strategies is the difficulty to set an appointment with the initial call. There are a few reasons why setting this appointment is so challenging. First, the person you are calling is not expecting a phone call from your organization. Therefore, when making this call you must explain who you are and why you are calling immediately, otherwise this person has no idea who you are. If you are forced to leave a message, it must be "catchy" or the chances of this person returning your call are slim.

Oftentimes, this person is expecting a call from someone other than a dealership. Due to the fact that most blind advertising appears to be coming directly from a bank, many of the leads are expecting a call from a bank, not a dealership. Therefore, when setting the appointment, it is crucial to inform this person that you have access to all types of inventory and he or she is not limited to purchasing certain types of vehicles. When dealing with individuals who have applied over the Internet, many people believe that the best way to communicate with this person is through e-mail. I strongly disagree and can tell you that following up through e-mail alone will cost you business to your competitors. Regardless of how this person applied, he or she needs a telephone call as soon as the lead is received. A telephone call allows you the opportunity to set the stage for the selling process to begin. People are notorious for "hiding" behind an e-mail address to make inquiries with no serious intentions of making a purchase. However, if a phone call has been made and the person has agreed to set an appointment, he or she has taken the first step toward a commitment. Now that we have discussed the challenges behind setting an appointment when the lead originated from blind advertising, here are eight tips for making an effective call: 1. Your call should be well thought out and even scripted to some degree; in other words, say basically the same thing each time you make a call. 2. Keep in mind your goal is to make an appointment that will show up! 3. Start all calls on a positive note. Let the customer know you can help him or her achieve his or her goal. All the customer needs to do is come see you! Make sure you are personable and sound excited. 4. When making the appointment use statements such as, "I have an appointment at 9 and 11. Would you like me to set yours at 2 or 4?" This lets the customer know you are working with others and the appointment is important. 5. Never discuss vehicles, finance rates, terms or trade-in value! Learn to carefully listen when customers talk about the type of vehicle they want, trade-in or finance terms. Even though you do not discuss these points, the information will help once the customer arrives. 6. Ask customers to write down items they will need to bring. Again, keep in mind we want to convince customers that by seeing us they can buy. 7. Give clear directions to your location and repeat the assigned appointment time. 8. Close the call on a positive note: "Bring your paperwork and insurance information because we want to send you home in a new car!" Michael Snider is the national sales manager for Voisys (www.voisys.com). E-mail him at msnider@special-finance.com.

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