The Secret to Setting Appointments That Show

Aug 18, 2014 | Sales and BDC

Did you know that there is a secret to setting firm appointments that will actually show up at your dealership? On-time? Most salespeople and managers don’t know what it is. Do you?

The Secret To Setting Dealership Appointments That Show

The secret is this: You have to ASK for the appointment. Yep, you read that right: you have to ASK for the appointment. I listen to hundreds of dealer calls – both inbound and outbound – every year, and less than 10% of the time do I even hear a hint of an attempt to set an appointment. What do I hear instead?

When would you like to come in?

Asking “When would you like to come in?” is not the same thing as asking for the appointment. Unfortunately for salespeople, this question tells the car buyer a few things: (1) They are not very important; (2) Their time is not valuable; and (3) It doesn’t really matter when they come in – they can arrive whenever they’d like.

Of course, all three of these points are not true: (1) They ARE important; (2) Their time IS valuable; and (3) It DOES matter when they come in. (After all, we don’t need them showing up five minutes before we close or during the busiest part of our Saturday if we can TELL them when to arrive, do we?)

Why do salespeople ask, “when would you like to come in?”

We don’t want to be rejected by the customer and customers NEVER answer “no” to that question.

Customers cannot and will not fully reject that request, even if they have no intention of ever coming in. They can easily answer something like, “Well, I can be in on Saturday; what time do you open?” instead.

If the salesperson answers “We open at 9 AM” and the customer replies “Great, I’ll be in sometime after that,” do they have an appointment?

The answer is no, they do NOT have an appointment. Not a real appointment, anyway. Why not? The customer is more likely to be a no-show than they are to show. It’s a soft appointment, at best.

To start setting appointments that show, you need to start TELLING the customer when to come in. For example, let’s say you catch a call for a vehicle on your lot. After the customer asks “Is the used Toyota Camry still in stock?” simply follow these two steps to get them to show up and buy today:

1. Create some urgency:

“Yes, the Camry is still available, but at the price it’s listed at, it won’t make it through to the weekend.”

2. Set the appointment:

“Now, I do have two test drives open on that Camry this morning. I’ve got a 10:15 and a 10:45; which one of those works better for you?”

No old school needs analysis here; no silly road-to-the-sale questions – just a simple, direct appointment request. If it helps you to remember what to say, just keep in mind the Appointment Setting 101 Goal: Every time I have someone on the phone, I have just one goal: An appointment that shows. You will be shocked at how many people select one of the times offered.

But Steve, what if they object?

You need to remember that appointments are the GOAL. When someone has an objection for us – something that would take us off our goal – we’re going to Grant the Objection. Basically, we’re going to agree with their concern. Then we’re going to Avoid it and redirect their concern. Finally, we’re going to Launch back into our talk track.

GOAL = Grant the Objection, Avoid it, and Launch back into your talk track.

A Quick Example of Setting Appointments That Show

Customer has replied that they don’t want to come in until they know what their trade-in is worth.

“I understand that it’s important to you to find out what we will give you for your trade-in before you arrive.” (You agree with the customer; in other words, you Grant the Objection.)

“However, if I gave you a price over the phone, the only thing I could do is either low ball or lie to you because only a trained appraiser knows exactly what your vehicle is worth.” (This is where you Avoid the objection by redirecting it.)

“Now, I do have two appointments open this morning with my appraiser. I have a 10:15 and a 10:45. Which one works better for you?” (That’s Launching back into your talk track.)

Finally, in order for your appointment to show it must be strong; weak or soft appointments will not do. For an appointment to be strong, it must have:

1. A specific day and time
2. A specific goal
3. A verbal AND mental commitment by the prospect

“Tonight before 9” is NOT a specific day and time; neither is “Saturday morning.” A specific day and time is just that, specific: today at 10:45 AM.

The specific goal can be anything from a test drive to a trade appraisal, but the customer must understand why they’re being asked to come in.

In order to get the verbal AND mental commitment by the prospect, you have to complete a strong recap after you both have agreed on a specific day, time and goal. This takes discipline, since most salespeople cannot wait to hang up the phone.

Just remember that the recap is what is going to drive the mental commitment by the prospect. Here is the recap that when used correctly drives an 80% show ratio for appointments set for today or tomorrow:

“Okay, (prospect name), just to recap: we’re going to see you at 10:45 this morning to test drive that 2013 Toyota Camry. Now, (prospect name), I’m going to get that Camry cleaned, gassed, parked out front and ready to go so when you arrive for your test drive, you will be in and out and on your test drive in about five minutes. (Prospect name) if anything happens to us or that Camry, we will call you well in advance so you don’t waste a trip down here; all I would ask from you is that you show me the same courtesy. So, can I count on you for today at 10:45?”

Now wait.

When the prospect replies “Yes,” you not only have a verbal commitment, but also a mental commitment; because they know and understand all of the things you’re going to do to get ready for this appointment.

Good selling!

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Blog Author - Steve Stauning

Written By Steve Stauning
Steve Stauning is a popular automotive industry speaker and writer, founder of pladoogle LLC, and a proud and active board member for Dealers United. As a true workaholic, he is considered 'hobby-less' by most standards; though this former US Marine does enjoy boating and outdoor activities near his home in Northern Idaho.


Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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