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Study shows how dealers can laugh their way to successful sales calls

July 12, 2019
Laughing might not be thought of as an important aspect of handling sales calls. But according to a new study, it is. 
A new analysis by Marchex, a conversational analytics company, looked at 6,200 U.S. auto dealership sales conversations in January. The examination showed top sales performers laughed during more than half of their calls. That helped relax the caller and brought a positive feeling to the call, Marchex reasoned.
That was just one finding of the study. The top-performing salespeople used active listening much more than lower-performing sales representatives. Marchex said active listening leads to more dealership visits and more sales.
In a news release, Matt Muilenburg, head of automotive for Marchex, described active listening as being extremely important in making strong connections with prospective car buyers during phone calls.
"The data shows that taking the time to listen and create these high-value experiences increases customer visits to dealerships and ultimately leads to more sales. This is especially critical today when dealer visits are at an all-time low," Muilenburg said.
Requesting the caller’s name. Saying "please" and "thank you." Those were two other attributes of top sales performers, the study found. Top sales performers asked for the caller’s name 163 percent more often than low performers. And 40 percent more often than bottom performers, the top performers provided their direct contact information to callers and also found out the caller’s contact information.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, top performers said "please" and "thank you" compared to 89 percent for lower performers.
The new report is the final installment of the Marchex Institute’s three-part series on how auto dealerships handle calls. Titled "2019 Auto OEM Study: How some OEMs are boosting sales at the expense of others," the initial report that came out in November showed how some OEMs are taking advantage of new data showing the importance of calls in "the path to purchase" for consumers who want to buy a car.
The second report, which came out earlier this year, analyzed how call-handling affects purchasing decisions at car dealerships. The report showed that those answering inbound sales calls strongly influence the likelihood of a caller booking an appointment or showing up at a dealership.
The final installment focuses conversation quality and showing how good salespeople speak with their callers and close more business.
"Do you need third-row seating?" "Are you wanting leather seats?" Top performers ask about caller preferences more often, according to the report. Top performers worked to find out about the caller’s needs and preferences 57 percent more often than lower-performers.
Questions like that, using what Muilenburg described as "understanding and empathy," provide important information to the caller and increase sales, Muilenburg said.
"This data helps dealers understand how to deliver empathy at critical moments and capture the interests of the customer over the phone," he said.
When dealerships value the caller experience, it gives them an edge, according to the report, which stated that callers can hang up the phone and look for a dealership that is more willing to answer their questions. "Dealers who take proactive steps to optimize inbound phone calls know that the conversation is key," the report states.
That conversation, as mentioned earlier, should include fun.  
In calls that included laughter, top performers laughed much more often on the call than bottom performers.
"We can surmise that laughing keeps the call positive and relaxes the caller, two behaviors that likely contribute to the results of top performers," the report stated.