Wendy Reeves

Founder | BDC Angels

Wendy Reeves, founder of BDC Angels, has spent the majority of her career working in the automotive industry. She helped establish her first BDC in 2007 working with a dealer group that included five new car franchises and an in-house finance company. She managed and grew that BDC until 2012 when she began training other dealership teams on her proven practices of BDC performance. From 2014 until 2017, Wendy launched and provided BDC services to DealerStrong clients to improve show rates, until which time as she returned to doing the same as an independent. She founded BDC Angels in 2018 and continues to provide BDC consulting and training services, as well as virtual BDC services to automotive dealerships and automotive vendors alike.
Is RELEVANCE a part of your dealership's internet lead management (ILM) process?

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2020 was a year wrought with upheaval and change. In the automotive industry, all that we knew about dealership traffic patterns and buying patterns no longer hold true. With regard to internet lead process and management, there are almost as many "insights" and opinions as to how things should change as there are people offering said insights and recommendations. Before you turn your process on end and completely "reinvent the wheel," take a good look at some of the things that have remained constant, but you simply had not implemented pre or post-pandemic. The better part of the following was written in March 2020. I was about ready to submit it for publication and the pandemic happened. Now, as the dust is settling somewhat, I want to share with you what I still see as one of the most important parts of the Customer Service Experience in the dealership, or any industry, really. The initial inquiry and the first steps on the road to the appointment and, ultimately, to the sale. Internet lead management, whether you are in internet sales or business development, is best done using a combination of a number of tools that we have at our fingertips. Many new technologies are just coming out, with only the most progressive of teams already implementing the use of apps, AI, and new software. Many of the basic tools needed we already have in our toolbox. In addition to our word tracks, scripts, and phone skills are email, text, video, and ringless voicemail, not necessarily in that order. Each of those has(have?) extreme value when used properly and strategically. There is a certain skill involved for each one individually, and when used together they are an unstoppable force and direct path to optimal performance in your department by way of a streamlined, transparent process that results in a pleasant, quality experience for your customers. However, if not used strategically, your customers will feel as though you had not even paid attention to what sparked their interest in your dealership or what they are trying to accomplish. Are they credit challenged, vehicle specific, or a new driver in the household? Figure out what it is. When trying to establish contact AND after making contact, make your efforts relevant and consistent toward providing a streamlined solution for your shoppers, whether online or via telephone. It is more important now than ever, when we must step up our game with regard to the customer service experience from the initial inquiry through to sale and delivery. We must no longer take advantage of the opportunities before us, and realize that each and every inquiry or potential customer is a person waiting for us to help with their automotive needs. How we respond, how we serve them, will blaze a trail toward customer loyalty and a place for our dealerships in our local communities and beyond. Who is this? Where are you calling from? What car was it? How many times has this been said to a business development representative (BDR) or an internet representative making outbound calls?! Are you reading the comments and the source of each and every lead BEFORE you reach out to the customer? Following are some tips to earn the right to a green light to schedule an appointment for a dealership visit. GREEN LIGHT to an appointment GREET the customer with excitement! You are someone he/she wants to talk to! You have four seconds to get their attention. RELEVANCE is this a vehicle specific lead? Credit application or trade inquiry from the dealer website? Third-party leads - CarGurus, CarFax, Facebook Messenger? Use ad-specific/relevant script/verbiage, text snippet, and email... EXCITEMENT this is the MOST important call of the day! Use your voice inflection and tonality to "bring it" each and every time, whether a live engagement or a voicemail. EMAIL address? Text opt-in? Correct spelling of first and last name? NOW .....have you established rapport? Or do you need to ask a few fact finding questions to be sure that you are setting up the right experience for THIS customer or situation? By the way, Mr. Customer, where are you coming from? What's your zip code? Are you trading a vehicle? Are you Interested in our finance programs for people with all types of credit? When you know all of this, THEN you can ask...what's the best time to come in? NOW or later today? Go for the appointment. CREATE URGENCY! Today, tomorrow, next day. It will GREATLY affect your show rate! LISTEN to what the customer is telling you. INFORM the customer, answer any questions he/she has. GO for the appointment AGAIN if you have not already! HANDLE all objections, control the conversation. Ask, Answer, Ask. The customer asks a question, you answer. Then YOU ask a closed-ended question. "Isn't that great?" Customer agrees. You ask for the appointment with two options. Morning or afternoon? Today or tomorrow? TOO much information (TMI) will KILL your appointment. Don't answer questions that are NOT asked. Sell the Appointment, Not the Car With the '4 W's' WHEN? Is the appointment? WHERE? Is the dealership? USE landmarks! WHO? Are they asking for? Your name, spell it! Give a phone number. WHAT? Do they need to bring with them? Stips? Make sure you have the opt-in to text and the email address. If not, do not end the call or text volley without them. Schedule the Appointment in the CRM Send email confirmation AND text confirmation of appointment. In EVERY call...............name, number, email address, zip code/where is a customer coming from? The protocol you use to drive them to your showroom or work them virtually first will depend upon their distance from the dealership. If it is NOT in the CRM, it did not happen. Work with your team, leave notes in the CRM. A lot has changed in the aftermath of 2020 and CoVid, but a lot has remained constant. The main difference between then and now as far as phone skills and the customer experience pre-visit is that we can no longer "get them it, get them in" and do that without ensuring a quality customer experience complete with active listening and empathy. Although those are things that should have always been in the road to the appointment, we were lacking in that respect. We must implement it and be consistent about it. In the end, we are, after all, people helping people. Not trying to shove a hurried, non-transparent process down their throats. We are all consumers at some point. Take a moment and ask yourself, if you were on the receiving end of your internet process would you be satisfied and eager to purchase a vehicle from your team and establishment? If the answer is no, then you already know where to begin.
The Power of a Live Turnover in the BDC

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In the not too distant past, I used to pat myself on the back if I took a turnover on a phone call at a dealership from a Business Development Representative (BDR) and closed the appointment after a fifteen-minute conversation. Now, I realize that I could have set THREE appointments in that same fifteen minutes. It is said that there are 3 main reasons why an appointment is a no show: They didn’t like you They lied to you You unknowingly UNSOLD the appointment after you set it. Let’s look at that more closely.   #1 They didn’t like you.  It makes sense, people buy from those they trust (they have to like you to trust you), and we sell appointments.    #2 They lied to you. Maybe they were preoccupied, wanted to get off the phone, and agreed to the appointment only to get off the phone, with no intention of showing up. You can sometimes tell when this is the case, but not always. And last,  #3 You unknowingly UNSOLD the appointment after you set it.  How do we do this? We don’t get off the phone after we set the appointment as we should. We keep on talking…do you have any other questions? (wrong! That’s where the objections start….even if there are none prior to the question…they will look for some). Set the appointment, and get off the phone. Knowing these three things can help you to try and set a more solid appointment. Try. Here are a few additional tips on how to set a solid appointment that SHOWS. After all, in the end, it is ALL ABOUT THE SHOWS.  As a BDC, we set solid appointments that show and ensure a smooth transition to the turnover to the sales department to do what they do best: sell cars. Whether it is an inbound or an outbound phone call, when you establish contact with a potential customer: Seal your conversation with a K.I.S.S. Keep it short and sweet. Be relevant. Greet the caller, build rapport with a few fact-finding questions, acknowledge what ad source brought them to you, GO for the appointment. The start of a great customer experience Now, back up a minute to the start of the conversation, build rapport. Tony Robbins said “Rapport is power. Total responsiveness between people. That connection, that spark that happens in certain relationships. Most people only get rapport with people like themselves. Rapport is created by a feeling of commonality. Most people try to build rapport with words. WRONG. Words are only 7% of your communication skills. What does work is matching and mirroring. That concept came about 35 years ago from a genius named Dr. Milton Erickson. He understood an important thing. We have both a conscious mind and a subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is more powerful. If he could influence someone’s subconscious mind, he could change anything. He watched people and realized that if two people have rapport, they begin to mirror one another. They become like one another”. So we ask a few questions, relate to the customer’s wants and needs, and respond to them. They will respond to us in return. When someone is responding to you, you have rapport. People like people who are like themselves, or how they would like to be. That is huge in itself, if you build rapport, you have the person’s trust, and the start of a great experience for the potential customer. Now, let’s go on to the rest of the tips: Don’t answer questions that are not asked. No TMI. If an objection is posed, address it, and go back to asking for the appointment. Ask for it early and often throughout your conversation. If you do not appoint the call, TURN IT OVER while the person is on the phone. The turnover could be to a BDM or even a fellow BDR. There is great POWER in a live turnover, and here is why: The most common objections In general, the three most common objections have to do with credit, inventory, or price. All three can be overcome when we teach our BDC or sales teams our consistent responses, or rebuttals, to each of those objections, based on our company practices. Consistent responses. Taught, practiced, role played, learned responses. Then and only then will you see your team set strong appointments and drive traffic to your showroom.   On occasion, you have a caller (or outbound internet lead) that is skeptical, a non-believer, hesitant to commit to an appointment. Your BDR has followed the process and best practices to a T, and, yet, no appointment. If, after three, four, five minutes maximum the call is not appointed, it is time to turn it over to a “second voice” to close the appointment. The natural reaction would be “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. NO! Try once, twice, three times by answering any questions and going back to close the appointment. If that does not work, turn it over and make it a team effort. There is no such thing as a no-sale call Remember the famous quote from the movie Boiler Room? Jim Young: “And there is no such thing as a no-sale call. A sale is made on every call you make. Either you sell the client some stock or he sells you a reason he can’t. Either way a sale is made, the only question is who is going to close? You or him? Now be relentless, that’s it, I’m done.” Well, we are not going to be relentless, we are not selling stock, we are representing our dealerships and delivering the start of great customer experience. But keep in mind that we have what the customer wants. They came to us, we were not making cold calls. So we will present the value of doing business with our dealership by building rapport, responding to our customer’s concerns, and bringing them into the showroom where the sales department will deliver a top-notch purchase experience. But we have to close the appointment to get the whole thing started. So, if three, four, five minutes go by and you are still trying to overcome objections, the person is stuck in that mode, it’s time for a second voice. A voice that is going to also be warm and inviting, offer assistance, and, when the person voices the same one, two objections that you’ve already heard, that voice will respond exactly the same way, with the same answer given by the first BDR. When two or more people say the same thing, it lends credibility to what we are saying. Most times our potential customers are skeptical because they have had bad experiences, or have heard of bad experiences, with other dealers. All we have to do is be transparent and consistent, sharing the same exact information with our callers, to continue to build rapport, educate our callers on the value of doing business with us, and close the appointment. Simple. If you do that, you will set more solid appointments that show.
Coaching and Consistency in your BDC

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The Business Development Center, or BDC, is the heart of the dealership. Every other BDC website or article you read these days contains that statement. What does that mean? Basically, when it’s running properly like the heart pumps blood to all the organs of the body, a BDC pumps business and strength to every department of the dealership. Coaching The BDC has many moving parts, and it is imperative that all those parts work efficiently together to maximize the potential and performance of its team members. From proper staffing to mindset to process to ongoing coaching to accountability, make sure that your BDC is utilizing all of the tools at its disposal to attain the desired result of CRUSHING industry benchmarks and providing a professional, streamlined customer experience for each and every person who comes in contact with the dealership. One of the most important of the tools mentioned above is coaching. Is your team getting the daily, ongoing, constant coaching that they need to fuel their fire, keep them consistent, competitive, motivated, appreciated, performing? Let’s look at the types of coaching and what they may provide. BDM My favorite and most important. You went through a lot to get a strong leader for your BDC. Are you burying your BDM in analytics and reports to the point where he/she is not spending the time coaching that is needed to keep your BDRs on point? One of her main tasks should be to motivate, inspire, and coach her team to new heights each day. She should be reviewing calls, conducting team role play exercises, reviewing CRM process/performance, reviewing and revising scripts, email templates, videos, text snippets. Set an attainable goal. Have her spend one hour a day on this all-important task, coaching. OEM or CRM Performance Coaches Just now becoming widespread in the last year or so, but vitally important and overdue. We have had vendor representatives that have provided us with monthly reporting that they discuss with the GM or BDM, but the addition of OEM and CRM performance coaches is helping keep your BDM and the other leaders in your dealership more accountable and aware of where they stand in comparison to their peers with regard to industry benchmarks and performance. However, are they simply providing reports and other data to the BDM and where, based on the data collected, there should be change or improvement OR are they coaching the BDMs and GMs on HOW to make that change take place?! Corporate and Industry Trainers Likely comparable, depending on the length to which both go to stay on top of the latest trends and best practices in the industry. Corporate trainers will ensure that corporate policy is maintained across the board and may potentially meet regularly with BDMs to ensure that process review, call review, and CRM review takes place. Or they may not. The benefit of a third-party trainer is that there is no bias, and the third-party trainer can evaluate, and report based on current industry benchmarks, and provide coaching to the BDM on how they should be coaching their teams. If you have gone to the trouble of installing a BDC and a process via a trainer or otherwise, protect your investment. Ensure that your BDC is performing consistently by performing call review, process review, role play, and CRM review. If you cannot do it, then make sure your trainer is doing that for you. If you do not do this, you may show a brief rise after the training is over, only to be followed by complacency and a return to the “old normal” versus adopting a “new normal” based on the training. My favorite acronym for BDC is the following: B- Bring It D- Daily …….and……. C- Consistently That is how to keep your BDC profitable. In order to do all those things, make sure your team is getting the coaching that it needs, each day.