Picking up where we left off from last month's Part 1, let’s take a deep dive into how to accomplish each of the three important goals for the initial phone call to prospect leads:
Getting the Appointment
Remember the important fact that the MMG rep did a great job in positioning you for success! Your first step is to build on the job he or she did to open the door for your opportunity. Don’t ruin that opportunity by trying to sell on the phone or by talking too much. You have one goal, get the face to face appointment. Having made hundreds of these follow up calls myself, here is the systematic approach that works best:
1. Repeat the reason the prospect agreed to talk your call in the first place and verify with a “verification” question. EXAMPLE: “John, I understand that you will be in the market for a new vehicle in the next three months, is that correct?”
2. Once the prospect verifies that you are correct, you want to reassure the prospect through a series of “information gathering” questions such as:
“What specific vehicle will you need?
“Will it require an upfit?”
“How many vehicles do you currently have in operation?”
“Are there any other additional needs you have in this process?”
3. Stress the importance of arranging a meeting face to face and make it easy for the prospect to say “yes.” The best way to make it easy for the prospect to accept your offer is the following word track:
“Bob, I will be in your area next week to meet with other clients, why don’t I stop by to drop off some information that will give you detailed information about the vehicle you will be needing and answer any questions you might have. I would also like to pick up some of your business cards in case someone should ask about your area of expertise. What day and time will work best for you?”
Here are a few keys that make this approach successful:
By starting the conversation with a question, you build rapport and start connecting with the prospect which allows him or her to participate in the conversation and establish you as a caring expert.
You made it convenient to meet by “being in their area.” Notice I requested the meeting for the “next” week. Why? Most people don’t plan that far ahead, and the prospect is more likely to have an open schedule.”
I created “extra value” by having materials to drop off and my asking for the prospects business cards in case I encountered a referral opportunity.
I “assumed” the appointment by asking “What day and time would be best?” rather than saying, “Could we meet?”
Preparing for the Appointment
I live by a saying: “The road to the extra mile is never crowded.” By scheduling your appointment a week or more in the future you have time to review the prospects website, learn about the prospects industry and if necessary locate the vehicle of interest as well as information on any upfits. Here are a few suggestions:
Review the prospects website. Look for social media logos to examine, any association logos like AGC, ABC or Home Builders, photos and bios of any decision makers, etc.
Go to Linkedin since often it gives detailed information on business owners including their biography and their first line connections (you might know one of them!)
Any state websites that list business licenses or contractor licenses. These sights also give information regarding locations, size of the business, number of employees, etc.
If they have a You Tube channel, preview their videos to give yourself a good feel for the organization.
Have your information organized and in particular if you have any customer testimonials include them with your promotional material. I live a professional folder that holds details about your service department, your dedication to local businesses, your inventory (if you have a good supply of vehicles), and photos and bios of your staff or you. A six-panel brochure also works.
Pre-write the critical questions you want to ask.
Design your questions before the sales call and review key questions such as the following:
1. Introduction statement. This is your “purpose” statement. EXAMPLE: “Jim, our purpose for meeting today is to gain an understanding of how your business operates and if there are any ways we might be able to add value such as networking opportunities or ways we can save you time and money. Could I ask you a few questions?” (this is a purpose statement I have used often but you can design your own. The key is letting the prospect know you are there to add value in some way)
2. Informational questions. This are general questions that allow you to gain valuable information. Unfortunately, so many sales people start the sales call by “explaining” all the wonderful things he or she can do for the prospect before we even know if they are getting the same services or if they even care. These questions start with any information you don’t know about their business, processes, marketing and even target prospects. Here are samples:
”Could you give me an overview of all the products and services you provide to your customers?”
“If I was going to explain to someone how they could utilize your services what would be the best way to explain what you provide?”
“How do you currently market your company?”
“How are you using your website and social media to promote your business?”
“What are you goals for the coming year?”
“Are there any obstacles you currently face with your business?”
“Are there any industry changes that can affect your business?”
“Who is your biggest competitor?”
“How do you differentiate your products and services versus the competition?”
Support statement- This is used if you need to ask more questions. EXAMPLE: “I apologize for asking so many questions, but it is important to me that I truly understand your business, especially if I come across someone who would be a great prospect for your business.”
There are many more questions you can ask. The purpose of these questions is to truly know how their business operates and to establish your care and interest in helping the prospect.
3. Transition questions and guided questions regarding automotive. These are designed to gain vehicle specific information. The first question is the most important and sets the stage for all other questions.
“When you are working with a commercial vehicle department whether your current supplier, us or anyone, what are the most important things you look for in that relationship?” (In most cases, they will tell you how to sell to them! This question will also lead to more detail questions from you. An EXAMPLE would be if the prospect said service is important, a more detailed question by you would be “When you say service could you be more specific?”
“Could you share with me how many vehicles you currently operate as well as the type of vehicles?”
“Where do you currently service your vehicles?”
“When acquiring new vehicles do you work directly with your current dealership or do you use any type of fleet management company or leasing companies?”
“How are you currently financing your vehicles?”
“Do you have any formal replacement process for your fleet?”
“Are there any specific obstacles or problems you have experienced with your vehicles such as maintenance, safety issues, or convenience issues?”
These questions are designed to lead into the next set of questions that I call, “Separation questions” designed to set you apart from the competition. Obviously, you don’t ask some of these questions if you cannot perform the tasks.
4. Separation questions
“Are you ever too busy to bring a vehicle in for service?” (If they say yes ask the next question) “So, what do you do?” (If they must wait and don’t have a pickup service, offer a solution, but in question form) “Would it be helpful if a dealership came to your location, left you a loaner vehicle, took your vehicle in for service and brought it back to you?” (I think you already know the answer!)
“When you acquire a new vehicle do you come to the dealership to complete the paperwork and if so, how long does it take?” (Again, if they do have to go to the dealership offer your alternative but in question form, EXAMPLE: “Would it save you time if the commercial consultant delivered the vehicle to you with the paperwork that could be filled out and completed without interrupting your day?”)
“Could you describe to me the process you currently go through when financing your vehicles such as paperwork, personally having to guarantee the loan, or credit checks?” (If they describe the typical process of a loan application, personal guarantee required by most banks and credit check offer a “line of credit” but don’t mention the term, this will get you a second appointment, EXAMPLE: ‘What if you did not have to go through that process and you didn’t have to personally guarantee the loan, would that be of value to you?’) If they say yes, you want to ask permission to do some homework and come back with a solution such as Ally your manufacturers line of credit.
“Have you ever considered leasing your vehicles?” If they are not familiar with a TRAC Lease (Terminal Rental Adjustment Clause or “open ended lease”) they will most likely say they have never leased a work vehicle or had a bad experience. Again, this question is a great way to get a second appointment.
“Are you familiar with ________________?” (Your particular fleet maintenance or consolidated billing program.) Often creating this convenience offer is a real plus.
“Has anyone introduced you to ________________?” This would be the commercial program offered by your manufacturer such as Isuzu. If they say no, explain the advantages of working with a commercial dealer.
“I would love to bring my service manager by to introduce him/her?” This powerful in so many ways and creates a follow up especially if they were interested in service offerings.
“Do you currently get priority service for your work vehicles?” (If they say yes, have them explain) Also ask, “Do you have a designated service advisor that understands your specific needs and works with you every time?”
5. Ending the Call
Summarize what you talked about in detail (you should have been taking notes).
Highlight anything that stood out that you can accomplish.
Set up a “next step” to continue growing this relationship
If the all went well, ask for the right to quote!
Thank the prospect for their time and let them know you look forward to the next meeting (assume it will happen and it will!)
6. Follow up
Call the next day to say thanks and mention anything you committed to do.
Send a thank you card.
Put the follow up in your calendar
Put them on your newsletter list
Stay in touch!
This is an extensive report with lots of information that has been proven to work over the last 18 years we have been assisting commercial dealers. Study the information and I promise you results will follow!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Taylor is known nationally as “America’s Corporate & Personal Coach.” He has trained thousands of commercial sales consultants, has worked directly with manufacturers such as Isuzu USA, GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Nissan and Mercedes Benz. He has been featured nationally on Fox Business News as an industry expert and has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal. He and his team have consulted directly with over 200 dealerships. Ken and his team are unique in that they actually make sales calls with clients! Ken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 904-535-9996.
Images from Ken Taylor's recent visit with the MMG team in Washington, Mo.