The business development center (BDC) is the heart of any dealership because a steady stream of qualified appointments is crucial to its sales success. The following are several different ways technology can help to ensure your dealership’s BDC success.
Look who’s talking
With the rise of social media and the growth of Internet marketing, there’s a tendency to focus the BDC on these channels. Channels like email, however, tend to have a relatively low rate of return. Email open rates are typically about 20% to 25%, but click rates plummet to about 2% to 3%, so it’s a numbers game—send 100 emails and you may get a couple responses.
The value of email is that it can be simplified and automated; however, I recommend that email communications not be the focus of your BDC. Email campaigns can be effective, but they must be used in conjunction with other marketing and lead-generation methods.
Most dealership BDCs already have automated emailing and tracking capabilities via their CRM. If your doesn’t, consider using one of the new marketing or email automation tools like Hubspot, Constant Contact, or MailChimp to automate as much emailing as possible. This will free your BDC to focus on speaking with prospects to get them in your showroom.
A recent study by Software Advice revealed that 48% of prospects say they prefer to first talk with a business by phone. This is where the BDC shines. Whether you are following up on new leads or escalating an existing lead for screening, the BDC should reach out by phone to set the appointment.
Not only is this what customers want, it will help your team better screen and qualify appointments. Also, an Auto Dealer Monthly study reveals that tone and inflection in a live conversation give agents a 38% better ability to judge the validity of a prospect compared to email. A qualified appointment is 10% to 15% more likely to close than an unqualified one.
Know your customer
Your BDC will have many interactions with customers as they progress through the buying process, and some of them will have been initiated through other departments (front desk, sales, service, etc.). When your BDC has a prospect on the phone, it’s critical that everyone on the team—and any other customer-facing personnel—can see details of previous interactions, so they’re “singing from the same sheet.”
An easy way to do this is to use a CRM to log all interactions with prospects and make sure every member of your team has access. Many auto dealership CRMs can sync with enterprise phone systems and email clients to display information from these previous interactions automatically.
Record your calls
Don’t rely on hand-scribbled notes to remember what buyers said about their perfect car. Record every call that goes in and out of your business for quality control purposes.
It’s easy to automate and integrate calls with your existing CRM. What’s more, some communications systems can actually integrate all your employees’ mobile devices into your central phone system, so you can record those calls too.
Although this doesn’t only apply to your BDC, the issue is critical for your entire business. If you are uncomfortable letting employees use their own devices for business, you have a couple of choices.
One option is to provide some or all of your employees with purpose-built mobile devices that are exclusively for business use. They are ruggedized for business conditions, optimized to work well in all areas of your storefront, and can be allocated so that a number of individuals can use the same device to reduce costs.
A second alternative is to equip employee-owned mobile devices with software that links them to your existing business phone solution. Most of these solutions allow your employees to use their personal devices, but also lets them:
- Automatically have all employee/department phone numbers, email addresses, and other business features on the devices.
- Send instant messages to or chat with individuals and groups in your business that you setup and maintain. This lets newer agents request help without putting prospects on hold and risking losing them.
- Know who’s available to take calls or answer questions with real-time functionality.
Also, some communications solutions can provide your BDC (as well everyone else at your storefront) with mobility yet still maintain all the management, reporting, and control you need to improve and monitor your business.
A well-run BDC focuses on making calls to qualify leads and set appointments. Calls provide a personal and professional touch that impresses customers, generates more business, and ensures a consistent customer experience.
The right technology in your BDC can help agents communicate more effectively with buyers, allow quick access to answers from managers and other departments, and make it easier to find mobile sales agents for prospects who are on the line and ready to buy.
Kevin Baker is director, strategic markets, for Vertical Communications, a leading enterprise communications company. Kevin brings a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from his military career and more than 15 years of creating, directing, and executing sales, marketing, and services strategies in the technology sector. If you liked this article, sign up for our free eCourse: “5 Ways to Use Technology to Improve Your Auto Dealership,” which outlines how to run a high-growth dealership: info.vertical.com/5-ways-to-use-technology-to-grow-your-auto-dealership-free-email-course.0