4 Steps to Get the Most Out of Every Inbound Call

Drive more revenue by putting the right marketing and sales strategies for inbound calls in place

We live in a mobile-first world, and smartphones have changed the way consumers shop for vehicles and engage with dealers.


Instead of contacting dealerships online by sending an email or filling out a web form, most smartphone users prefer to call. According to studies by J.D. Power and Kelley Blue Book, vehicle shoppers call dealerships twice as often as they email, and three times as often as they fill out forms.

For today’s dealers, getting shoppers to call to ask questions, get a price quote, and schedule a test drive or service appointment is an essential step in the sales process. Revenue generation is intricately connected to not only how well their marketing programs drive these calls, but how effective their sales associates convert them to opportunities and customers.

So what marketing and sales strategies should dealerships implement for inbound calls to drive more revenue? Examining call data from our platform, which tracks and manages millions of phone calls to North American dealerships each year, reveals these four effective, recommended strategies.

1. Track inbound call drivers

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. That’s why marketing teams at dealerships should track details about every phone lead they generate.

Whether it’s from digital advertising programs such as search, Facebook, and display, or traditional offline marketing such as direct mail, TV, and radio, getting full attribution and intelligence from inbound calls is an important step in measuring success and improving ROI.

The phone call data marketers should capture includes:

  • Marketing source that drove the call. Learning the advertising channel, ad variation, keyword search, email, direct mailer, or other source that drove each call is critical to knowing how to optimize for what’s driving the best results.
  • The caller’s path through your website. If leads visit your site after running a search or engaging with your marketing, you should know their entry page, the content they viewed on your site and in what order, and the page they eventually called from. This data is helpful in optimizing the website experience to convert more visitors to leads.
  • Caller data. Dealers should also capture who callers are, their phone numbers, their geographic locations, and the day and time of the call, and pass data on the caller and marketing source to their sales associates when the call comes in, enabling more informed and productive conversations.

2. Connect calls to sales in your CRM

The marketing team’s ultimate goal is not just to drive calls, but to drive calls that convert to vehicle sales and revenue for the dealership. So it’s important to know which marketing sources drive the most callers that go on to buy a vehicle or book service.

To do this, dealers can pass the call data to their CRM or lead management system to track callers through the sales process. They can then generate reports about which marketing programs and ad spend generate the most revenue. This reveals the true impact of their marketing, and helps them make smarter optimization decisions.

3. Be smart about call routing

Inbound calls are the most lucrative leads for dealerships, and marketing teams spend much of their budget to get shoppers calling. It’s critical that dealerships not only answer these calls, but offer callers the right customer experience to convert them.

This can be done by implementing intelligent call routing processes to get callers to the right sales associate right away. The following popular call-routing process has helped some dealerships increase answer rates by 50% and revenue by 10%:

  1. Callers are first sent to an automated interactive voice response (IVR) to select the department they are calling for.
  2. If the call occurs during business hours, it’s routed based on the caller’s interest. So when a call comes in for the sales department, for example, it rings every available salesperson (or a subset of salespeople) simultaneously—both their desk phone and cell phone—and the first person to answer gets the lead.
  3. If a call isn’t answered by a sales agent within 30 seconds, it gets routed to an on-site receptionist.
  4. If the call occurs outside of business hours, it’s sent to voicemail.

Many dealerships also route calls to ensure their best sales agents receive a higher percentage of inbound leads.

4. Analyze conversations to measure performance

Management should monitor call activity and analyze what happens on calls. This can include viewing reports on missed calls, finding out which agents are answering calls and which are not, and determining the staff members who are best at converting callers to appointments.

Many dealerships also record calls to review agent performance for quality assurance and training. What’s more, the marketing team can benefit from analyzing conversations to learn which ad channels and programs drive the best sales leads, if ad messaging and promotions resonate, and which SEO/SEM keywords callers actually speak.

Blair Symes is the director of content marketing at DialogTech, the leading call attribution platform for marketers. He can be reached at bsymes@dialogtech.com.

Blair Symes

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