Best PracticesDealership Marketing

65% Move On To The Next Dealership – When You Don’t Answer The Phone

The dealer across the street requests an appointment on 57% of sales calls.

Right now in your dealership, most of your sales team isn’t doing what they should be. This is a shocking revelation, I know. In July I wrote about how most dealerships struggle to get inbound phone leads connected with someone who can help them. This time, let’s look through another lens: Setting appointments.

It’s 3 p.m. on a Thursday. Salesman Steve is out pacing the lot, waiting for a walk up, and mentally debating which running back to start on his fantasy team. Steve’s time could be better spent elsewhere. Salesman Sam, sitting there drinking coffee and bragging about the nightclubs he’ll go to this weekend is definitely just a warm body.

But Salesman Sean is hustling. He is on the phone calling back prospects to confirm appointment times. Seans are good. You want 10 Seans. Why? We know that show rates increase more than 25% when confirmed by a manager. We also know that soft appointment agreements are much less likely to show than firm, so obviously a firm appointment agreement is preferable.

These obvious facts beg the question: Is your sales team setting appointments on the inbound call, are you confirming those appointments, and are you driving soft agreements to firm commitments?

In my last post, I revealed that in the almost two million inbound calls we reviewed, an appointment request was only attempted 6% of the time. Feels a little low huh? Why is it so low? Because requesting the appointment doesn’t generally produce the desired results? I don’t think so, and here is why:

Our data shows:

When a request was made, the caller accepted an appointment for a specific day / time 36% of the time. This tells me that more than one out of every three legitimate sales opportunities will accept a firm appointment if they are simply offered one. That’s not too bad at all. I bet you could do even better.

When a request was made, the caller declined 12% of the time. Wow! So only about one of every ten phone ups declined an appointment when offered. That tells me that there isn’t much risk in attempting to set the appointment.

What happens on the other calls?

When a request was made, the caller softly accepted without a specific day / time 52% of the time. This is a great stat, becaus  looking across all three catergories, we realize that nine out of ten people react positively when offered a chance to schedule an appointment. Steve, Sam and Sean are actually pretty good at executing if they just make the attempt. The key is getting them to make that attempt.

Let’s talk about the outbound piece that I hinted at in my last post. We listened to more than six million outbound calls to see what was happening and connect that to what we see on the inbound side. Our first discovery was that most of your outbound calling efforts are a waste of time. Why? Because 86% of those 6 million plus outbound calls never reached the intended party. That’s good data. You want to drive that number down.

Once a dealership starts watching that number, we have seen a 14% success rate grow to 30% almost overnight. When salesman Steve knows that he only gets credit when he talks to his intended target, it’s amazing how much better he gets at choosing the right time to call.

You know that outbound calls drive appointments, but who should we be calling?

Well, our data showed us dealers AREN’T calling. For all those soft acceptances, the dealership only made an outbound confirmation call 17% of the time. Why wouldn’t you want to drive that soft agreement to a firm agreement? Steve’s time is well spent calling Prospect Julie about her “sometime after work” appointment to let her know of an opening at 6:15pm he can save for her.

outbound call with no conversion metrics

How about all of those people (39%) who never even got to speak with someone about the car they were interested in in the first place?

It turns out that about a third of them (35%) want to talk to you so badly that they actually call back later, but the other 65% seem to move on to the next dealership. What can you do about it? First of all..Answer the Phone! But, when you do miss, how aboutSam puts down the coffee and gives this person a quick call back?

Our data shows that dealerships typically place an outbound call to these missed opportunities only 10% of the time.

It seems so easy doesn’t it? It can be boiled down to a few simple standards:

  1. Answer the Phone!
  2. Connect your leads to a qualified agent as quickly as possible.
  3. Confirm your appointments.
  4. Seize missed phone opportunities with an outbound call as quickly as possible.

Incremental gains in each of these arenas can lead to powerful results and running a better business.


Are you making appointment confirmation calls? If yes, who makes the call?

Do you have a technology service and process for quickly calling back customers that went unanswered?

Mike Haeg is an industry guru in the call analytics and technology sector. He has a deep passion for helping dealers measure their marketing ROI and i...
Sales in the car industry should be reevaluated. It's not about standing around and waiting, but being proactive, and returning calls and leads. It's important to take necessary steps to consumers and not just wait for them to come. Also, not bugging them when they do come to look.