Friday, August 01, 2003

The Selling Cycle - Part II The Appointment

This is the second installment of a 12-part series on the sales process. Part 1 featured tips on the best places to prospect. In Part 2, Jan shows you how to get appointments with your prospects.

During a recent training session, a sales representative told me that he did all his sales over the telephone. I refer to this practice as the “10% rule”. While I agree that there are people who do shop over the telephone, I am not convinced that a dealership can hold its desired gross profit average strictly by selling units over the phone.

Appointments have a higher closing ratio than walk-on traffic. Dealerships that want to maximize gross and minimize time spent with prospects should work to increase appointments. Without appointments, sales consultants are left to wait on the lot for the next opportunity. This could take hours, days, or even weeks, depending on the season. Appointments represent a steady stream of opportunities for salespeople to spend quality time with customers who are at the dealership for a specific purpose.

Harry Beckwith, in his book, Selling the Invisible, contends that 10% of the population are price shoppers. The rest of the buyers – a whopping 90% - look for value in the asking price; in other words, will they get their money’s worth? Clearly, the best way to demonstrate value to the majority of prospects you have worked so hard to find is to get them into the dealership to experience a complete sales process.

Lead Sources

The two most popular ways of setting appointments are from incoming telephone leads and E-leads. Manufacturer and dealership advertising drive incoming telephone inquiries; E-leads are generated from the dealership web site, a manufacturer's web site, or a third-party site such as Common sense dictates that the medium you use to get an appointment should mirror the medium the prospect employs to contact the dealership. You also know that your best course of action is to simply ask the prospect how they prefer to communicate with you.

Planning is everything . . .

Give your prospects a reason to come to the dealership. What are you doing on Saturday mornings? Do you offer clinics on fishing, packing, or towing? Plan something that sets you apart from the other guys on the block. This type of thinking has been the number one reason for REI's success.

. . . so is Timing!

Today’s customers feel trapped by time with the result that appointments they make for luxury items get overlooked or postponed. Appointments made on the hour and half hour have a higher “no-show” rate than appointments made on either the quarter hour and three quarter hour, or, even better, on a ten, twenty, forty or fifty minute schedule.

Prospects perceive that appointments made on the hour or half-hour will be time consuming, while appointments made on the “off hour” will take only a few minutes. So schedule appointments that will afford them the best chance of keeping their time commitment to you.

Remember that when a person has a choice between something and something they usually choose something. For example, "Would Monday morning or Tuesday afternoon be better for you?" " Morning or afternoon?" "Would 9:10 a.m. work for you or would later be better?" And don’t forget to follow your doctor’s office prescription for follow-through by confirming your appointments by telephone the evening before.

Track Your Sources / Evaluate Your Responses

Be sure to note where your appointments come from. Track your e-mail responses and telephone scripts for incoming calls. Build on those that turn prospects into appointments. Rework the responses that do not produce results.

Your mission is to get appointments. Your goal is to make the appointments convenient and worth keeping. Prospects usually want to acquire some information about the unit before coming to the dealership. Answer their questions and refocus price queries to how the appointment will help the prospect make an informed buying decision. Be polite, honest, and concentrate on getting your prospect into the dealership.

You need prospects to make appointments. Your appointments with prospects will generate consistent sales opportunities. In Part 3 of the sales cycle we will look at how your Greeting at the Property sets the stage for a successful sales presentation.

RV Executive Today, August 2003