Are phone calls dead when it comes to sales? You might think so, to read the press releases that go with communications software solutions. Turns out, we still like the phone, particularly when we’re buying a vehicle. The 2018 Autotrader Car Buyer Survey found that the second most popular mode of contact between customers and dealers is the traditional telephone call. Likewise, research by Salesforce has found that 92 percent of all customer interactions still happen on the telephone.
Voice is Still the Most Effective Communication
A lot of human interaction is unspoken and comes from tone of voice, emphasis and mood, all of which are far more discernable in voice conversations than over digital media. While digital communications and social media both add significant value to a sales engagement, they’re best left for research and first contact to arrange a meeting. Think of them as a stepping stool on the way to more meaningful engagement, or supports to prop up a voice conversation.
“The more interpersonal and real the dialogue the more you can glean from it and build mutual rapport towards a better outcome,” wrote Ian Taylor for Unified Communications Today. “Let your competition be on email when you are on the phone, and when on the phone be meeting the prospect. This alone gives you an increased likelihood of winning the business and accelerates your debate with the customer. In one call or meeting you can achieve a lot more than a back and forth of emails that can span days.”
There’s evidence that dealerships are still doing a poor job handling phone calls. According to Marchex, dealers receive thousands of calls each month, and almost 20 percent of them fail to connect the caller and the dealer. When calls go unanswered, shoppers very quickly move on to competitors. Recovering even a small percentage of the calls that are missed or that go to voice mail could yield significant increases in sales for the average dealership.
Craft a Good Voicemail Message
Even a better voicemail message can help retain the interest of customers. Change your voicemail daily and use the date, so customers know your messaging is current and your voicemail is checked regularly and reassure callers that you WILL call them back. Keep the tone friendly, engaging and helpful, and mean it when you say, “I value your business and will return you call promptly.”
Use Digital Channels in Parallel
Remember that while the telephone is still a preferred method of communication for customers, it exists alongside (and not independent of) other modes of communication. Be “omnichannel” and use the telephone in conjunction with other media, perhaps emphasizing to the customer that you have communicated with the customer in other channels.
“Remind them about how they sent a message to your dealership on Facebook, or that you also emailed them regarding a form submission,” wrote Chanell Turner for CBT Automotive Network. “Show the cohesion between your marketing platforms, and let them know how you both have interacted or communicated with one another using other marketing channels.”
Remember to track all your voice mails (the ones you get and the ones you leave) in your CRM database, and be sure to schedule the follow-ups necessary to connect with and set appointments with customers.