Let’s hear it for Equity Mining Calls! Who looks forward to these and other proactive campaigns? Do I hear crickets? OK, I’ll agree, they’re not the “sexiest” of leads. But they are important, and they can be an effective sales tool. I think the distaste for most campaign calls comes from the poor results most Sales Teams and BDC Reps get from them.
Here’s the question you should be asking: If I were a customer, would I want to hear what you have to offer? Some of you are thinking, “Absolutely not!” Therein lies the rub. Why are you going into a call with the idea that you have nothing to offer a client?
Let’s address this in two ways: (1) Offer a value proposition to the client that you’d want to hear. And, (2) Have a positive attitude; expect agreement in the sale/on the call. We should have such wonderful news to share with the client that when they aren’t interested, it surprises us. I’d bet that right now, you’re shocked when they are interested.
(1) Offer a value proposition to the client that you’d want to hear.
I’m willing to bet that one of the main reasons you don’t like these calls is that you don’t get much return on investment. It seems like a waste of time.
If you’re a BDR making these calls, you probably get paid a bonus on either Appointments Made (I hope not), Appointment Shown (better!), and/or Appointments SOLD (Yes!). If you can take 5 phone ups, set 4 appointments, have 2 shows, and 1 sold, why are you wasting time making campaign calls?
Just catch 5 phone ups a day! The problem is that the phone isn’t ringing off the hook with fresh phone ups all day. The most effective salespeople and BDC’s generate business while they’re waiting on customers to find us.
If you’re a dealer, you surely have a backlog of previous buyers, lost customers, bought elsewheres, and upside downs, not to mention a database of service customers who already bought from you or bought elsewhere but services their vehicle with you. Even if you’re tasking your salespeople or BDC with calling these prospects, it’s probably not that effective. Let’s fix that, starting with Equity Mining calls, perhaps the most dreaded of all the outbound calls.
Before picking up the phone, I’d make sure there is some gold to be mined. Nothing is more detrimental to the morale of a Sales or BDC team than to be tasked with calling 1,000 leads to get 2 car deals. It’s a sure path to turnover and it’s a waste of payroll. Assuming you’ve removed the overburden and are running paydirt through your wash plant, let’s discuss scripting and technique.
By now, I assume everyone has a generic way they begin all outbound calls. Verify the person who answers. Proactively eliminate the stall. Introduce yourself. Then, the ubiquitous, “The reason for my call is…”
“The reason for my call is that my sales manager asked me to reach out to everyone who owns a 2015-2018 Nissan Altima this morning.1 Do you still own the 2016 Altima that you’ve been servicing with us? Oh, that’s great because we are running very low on inventory and he has a few VIP customers looking to purchase one pre-owned. For this reason, he’s offering above market value right now. I’m curious if we could show you how to keep your payments the same on a brand new Altima, is that information you’d like to have?” 2
Now, they say an overwhelming percentage of drivers would prefer to be driving a newer vehicle if it made sense and was affordable. So, if the answer here is “No”, I’d almost guarantee the reason is not that they want to keep driving what they currently own. I’d try to find out why that is.
I might say something like, “I understand. Is there something about the Altima that you aren’t enjoying or is there another reason?”
You’re almost begging the customer here to say something negative about their current vehicle. If there is something they don’t like, that’s valuable information. Wouldn’t you like to know what they don’t enjoy about their current vehicle? That could certainly a reason to share different features of other models or even recent upgrades to that product line.
Here’s the deal, if they don’t want to trade up to a newer vehicle at the same payment, there is a high likelihood that the reason is one of these:
- They are close to paying off their current vehicle and are looking forward to having no payment.
- They don’t like this product any longer.
- Their needs have changed since purchasing their current vehicle.
- They already have another vehicle lined up, perhaps they even own another vehicle now
While I won’t go into specific rebuttals here, I’ll share several on our website linked at the bottom of this article. If you’re having trouble with these or any other objections on a live call, place the call on hold and ask for a TO. And, write it down! Hopefully, the next time this objection is raised, you’ll have a word track for addressing it. Feel free to share your objections/rebuttals in the comments, as well.
If you’re still not getting engaged with the client, one last phrase I may try is, “What if we could offer one-thousand, two, or even three-thousand over market value. Would you consider just selling us your vehicle and keeping the money?” 3
The proposition you are basically making in this final plea is this: Let me pay you for your vehicle and you take that money somewhere else to spend however you like. I’ve used this technique a lot when dealing with trade appraisals. In the old days when people visited three or more dealerships before buying, I’d say, “Before you go anywhere else, let me make you an offer on your trade-in. Then you can take that figure and go shopping. If it’s higher than everyone else’s, which I expect it will be, I’ll write you a check and you can spend that money on the vehicle you choose, whether it’s here or at another lot.” It was gold, Jerry. Obviously, I did everything in my power to close a deal while the person was sitting in my showroom. But, if they insisted on shopping, I did give them a figure on the trade, something I’d be comfortable with if I were buying that vehicle at auction. If they took me up on my offer and wanted me to buy their vehicle, hey, at least I got a local vehicle at a reasonable cost without paying for transportation. A lot of times, it was even serviced in my service department with a history report to prove it. That definitely increased the resale value when I had it in my used inventory, especially if a customer was comparing it to a previous rental vehicle on a competitor’s lot.
(2) Have a positive attitude; Expect agreement.
I hope you’re convinced that you have the ability to improve your customer’s life by getting them into a new vehicle with that new car smell, one with zero miles and full warranty, at the same payment they have now. Or, by giving them a large check for that car they neither want nor need any longer. At a minimum, I hope you can agree that most customers would be interested in getting more information about these programs. So, share this GREAT NEWS with them!
Now, for the Sales Managers or BDC employees that don’t yet see how we can do these things, let me address those concerns. First, I would never propose or endorse that anyone ever lies to a customer. It’s immoral, it’s shady, and it’s just bad business. Additionally, it’s so easy to set yourself apart from the competition by providing great service at a reasonable cost. With that in mind, I’ll expand on some of these offers and phrases.
(1) If you’re going to say, “My sales manager said this morning that he’s looking for 2015-2018 Altimas,” please have actually had that conversation with a sales manager. Frankly, if you’re not having a conversation often among your BDC and Sales Managers about what used vehicles you need on the lot, that’s a good place to start.
(2) “Same Payment” close. This is all about structuring the deal to get to the same payment. I don’t care if a customer wants to go from a 2014 Accord to a 2021 Tahoe, you can structure the deal with enough initial investment to get to the same payment. I promise, 90% of the time, the customer will say, “No, no… I can pay more per month. I don’t need to be that low.” Wouldn’t a sales manager love hearing that for a change? Some customers will simply stroke a check for the down payment, believe it or not. Maybe a couple is helping their granddaughter upgrade and they don’t want her payment to go up. For other customers that have little or no money down and still want to be around the same payment, we can negotiate with inventory. Model down. Trim down. Switch to used or a new vehicle with better incentives. Lengthen the term. There are several ways to put a deal together that will make sense to the customer.
(3) Offering over market value. OK, first, can anyone tell me what true market value is? If I ask ten managers to appraise a 2017 Silverado High Country 4wd Crew Cab, how many figures will I get? I’d guess ten. In fact, NADA has these trucks valued at anywhere from $29,500-32,825 right now, without equipment variables. That’s a difference of $3,325, which is well in line with “one, two, or three thousand over.” Add to that the fact that it’s local trade with no auction transportation costs. Surely, that’s worth a minimum of $500-1,000 in ACV. If the customer arrives and the vehicle history report shows 3 accidents and it has four bald tires with an engine knock, we couldn’t have foreseen that which can easily be explained to the customer. I’d still make an offer to purchase, though!
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