VANCOUVER, B.C.-What better way to make an impression about poor phone technique than to hear it first hand. So seminar speaker Jim Ennis dialed several dealerships and pretended he was in the market for a new set of tires. To illustrate his point, he let his audience listen in on a speaker phone.
The ``ugly,'' as he put it, far outweighed the good.
In two out of three calls, the dealership's salesperson didn't identify the company name, never asked for the order, never asked for the customer's name, didn't set up an appointment, didn't qualify the customer, didn't identify the tire he was selling and didn't show any enthusiasm for the product.
A third call, conducted by tire dealer Jay Hunter of Excel/Revelstoke Tire Center in Revelstoke, B.C., ended up better, but still the dealership's sales person failed to set an appointment, didn't seek the customer's name and didn't ask for the order.
``Every time the phone rings in your business, what is the value of that call?'' Mr. Ennis asked the dealers attending his seminar titled, ``Phone control management-using the telephone to build rapport with your customers.'' He answered his own question with the sum of $400.
Stretched out over a lifetime, the value of that customer could reach $15,000, he said, stressing the monetary importance of answering the phone effectively.
Mr. Ennis, general manager of the Ennis Group in Calgary, Alberta, spoke during the Tire Dealers Association of Canada convention Feb. 14-17 in Vancouver.
When answering the phone, ``compare your dealership to an airport, and you're attempting to land that customer,'' he said.
To improve a dealership's handling of the phone, Mr. Ennis suggested dealers designate one person to answer calls. If that's not possible, insist that everyone answer the phone the same way, he said.
To reduce stress and muscle fatigue on the person answering the phone, Mr. Ennis suggested that dealerships answering many calls daily invest in a telephone headset.
And he gave the following advice to phone personnel:
Answer the phone with enthusiasm and purpose and indicate that you really are happy to be in the business and you're glad that the customer called;
Listen to customers' needs, and when they tell you what they are, acknowledge them;
Take an interest in customers and qualify them; and
Once you've got the information needed to close the deal, and you're certain the product is in stock, ask for the business.
``If you do all these things, you'll be doing more than 85 to 90 percent of your competition,'' he said.