Driving Online & Phone Traffic Over-the-Curb

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More about Personality (& Process) than Skill

It’s no secret.  Companies have been struggling when it comes to handling internet leads and phone-ups. As the hypothetical “UP Bus” continues to run out of gas, our need to develop alternative methods of securing appointments and sales has become paramount.

Having trained thousands of individuals for floor, internet and phone sales, we began noticing several distinct and predictable patterns. For instance, some of the best sales consultants on the showroom were the least successful at handling internet leads, phone-ups or the “critical customer follow-up” process.  When we assessed the reasons for this, we found that in person, exceptional sales consultants instinctively use the five universal behavioral cues: WORDS; TONES; GESTURES; POSTURES; FACIAL EXPRESSIONS.

However on the phone, they only have Words and Tones (“left brain”).  On the internet, they only have Words. Therefore, they lose 60 to 80% of what makes them great in the showroom – the intuitive people-reading skills of Gestures, Postures & Facial Expressions (“right brain”). To make up for this, they over compensate by excessively using WORDS – thus talking too much and not taking control by asking questions and qualifying the prospect.

For some time now we have realized that the same set of skills that make salespeople successful are clearly not the same set that drives the ultimate in customer care. It is becoming more evident that building long-term relationships will be the key to dealership success in the future.  We used to think that the key to customer retention was based upon the customer handling experience during the initial sale; then the industry focus changed to the quality of the service experience. Now we know that more than ever, it depends not only on those interactions but also upon the quality of the contacts and “human touch” between repurchase experiences.

Companies that refine their expertise in communicating with their customers are more successful at achieving higher leads to shows, and shows to sales. This requires an innovative approach to employee hiring, training and staff development. There is a focus on identifying set behavioral models and communication styles. This means hiring right from the start, the best personality type match for the identified tasks.

The key is to identify the behavioral style needed for particular positions, assess the applicants’ personality types, and then employ those individuals with the best matched personality, skill and experience.  Taking time to identify each position’s best matched character strengths, attributes and behavioral styles may initially slow you down, but it will pay off in the long run. Additionally, you will then learn what specific psychological needs each person has and begin to work proactively toward meeting those needs.  When employees are happy and appropriately positioned, they are better able to meet the needs of those they serve.

Why personality first? Because no matter how innovative your processes and cutting edge the technologies are, without the  commitment and skill of your employees, the innovations you have put in place are less likely to be effective and sustainable over the long run.  Efficiencies and standardized processes are driven not only by technology but also by those individuals who deliver your entire value proposition to your customers on a daily basis – your employees.  They are the human equation that truly drives your organization’s results.

Some might ask, “Why should we give employees expensive psychological tests and training, when turnover in the automotive retail business is so high?”  But the real question is, “What is worse than training your people and they leave?”  The profound answer is: “Not training them and they stay!”

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