Steps to Make Every Call a Sale

Dec. 31, 2018
Here’s how to make using a phone recording system a habitual practice for your shop.

“This call may be monitored and recorded for training purposes.”

A customer may be taken aback by the automated voice that first begins a call. The customer, however, may not be aware of how a phone recording system is used not just to record the customer’s information but also to help the shop with its sales and business practices, says Michelle Marchant, phone skills performance coach.

Phone recording benefits include improving training, improving coaching, bringing accountability into the workplace and verification of information, she says.

And, according to her, roughly 15–25 percent of calls are missed opportunities, in which a sales inquiry did not result in a commitment from the customer. So, for every 100 calls, you’re losing 20 jobs.

To top off the list of benefits, listening in on the staff’s calls to customers does not need to take eight hours or even much of the day, according to Kevin Schwarzhoff, the body shop manager at Witham Auto Centers in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

“Even if the employee just knows they are being monitored, it can keep them on their toes, “ Schwarzhoff says.

For more than seven years, Schwarzhoff developed small business centers for dealerships and used phone recording systems to turn an employee’s call into a sale.

Schwarzhoff says when the phone recording system is done in a non-intrusive manner, in which the manager listens in on a few calls per day and then pulls the employee aside to go over the call, it can be the difference between making a sale and not making a sale.

Marchant shares the steps an owner can take to make using the phone recording system a habit within a day-to-day business routine.

Step 1: Train the employee to be the face of the company.

A customer’s overall impression of the shop can be determined within this first interaction with the employee, Marchant says.

To correctly train staff, use best phone practice skills. These skills include the CLARC phone skills. CLARC stands for connect, listen, acknowledge, recommend and close.

The main key to this step is to ask questions, she says. Questions are the way to get sales.

First, connect with the customer in the greeting and then start taking notes as an employee. The questions are a way to show the customer that the employee is actively listening and to then build up to acknowledging the customer’s concerns.

This approach works extremely well if a customer is calling for an estimate, Schwarzhoff says. When someone calls for an estimate, it is an opportunity for the staff to take the customer’s problem and make it the shop’s priority.

He says that every phone call can be viewed as a way to do light selling. The repair job might not need a large job but it could be an opportunity to act on and do a replacement repair or lighter job for the customer.

Step 2: Commit to recording every call.

For an owner, the second step in the process is to record calls and learn what types of real-life situations each employee encounters, Marchant says.

“We’ve found that role-playing is not as effective as actually using the conversation,” Marchant says.

A problem that Marchant has seen in her line of work is a shop not committed to finishing the phone recording training program. As a result, the employees can pick up on the fact that the boss is not in it for the long haul, she says.

“When your employee knows your commitment level, it will raise their commitment level,” Marchant says.

Schwarzhoff says a boss should set aside at least 30 minutes to an hour to listen to some calls made that day. If a problem or urgent situation is found, the boss should then bring the employee into the office for a meeting.

“The manager needs to spend enough time to get a ‘screenshot’ of how the day is going,” Schwarzhoff says.

Step 3: Consistently review the calls with staff.

After training the employee to use proper phone etiquette when answering the phone and recording the calls, the boss will need to coach the staff.

Work ahead by scheduling weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly coaching sessions with employees.

To coach employees, listen to the calls and then sit down with them. A boss should discuss different parts of the phone call and set a goal in these meetings. Then, the boss will need to follow up on the goal with daily actions to help each employee stay focused and improve.

In his experience, Schwarzhoff says the employee is usually his or her own worst critic. The supervisor might not even need to point out an area that needs improvement because once the employee listens to the call, he or she will point it out.

Some warning signs that indicate the manager needs to sit down with an employee, he says, include the worker missing opportunities to sell during the call, missing opportunities to solve the customer’s issue, being argumentative and showing too many emotions during a call.

Step 4: Save time by tracking calls.

“It is time consuming to listen to each and every phone call,” Marchant says.

One way to track phone calls is to use speech analytics, she says. Speech analytics will analyze your phone calls using different indicators and algorithms to determine what is or isn’t happening on a phone call.

The speech analytics system will help a boss gather information from all the phone calls made that day, rather than just a few, and will help in the process of selecting which calls to review, Marchant says.

At the end of the day, a manager needs to remember that this phone recording training process is not equivalent to a huge life goal or achievement, Schwarzhoff says. Instead, the boss needs to not overdo the amount of time spent going over this type of training. If an employee thinks he or she is going to get grilled after every phone call, he or she is more likely to give up and quit.

Step 5: Establish the practice as employee accountability.

The phone recording system can not only gain more sales for a shop but also help the shop employees become more accountable for their actions in the workplace, Marchant says.

“Soft skills, like telephone sales and service performance, can be improved by being measured,” she says.

 And, the phone recording system practice will provide another way for a boss to keep a record of information. The recording will act as a second type of verification of the customer’s repair details and verify the information written down is accurate.

“We recommend transcribing calls so they can easily be searched,” Marchant says.

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