salesperson on phone.jpg Getty Images
Top sales performers requested the caller’s name 163% more often than bottom performers did and laughed on more than half of their calls.

Study: Car Dealership Stars Stand Out on Phone Calls

“Active listening is the key to building meaningful connections with prospective car buyers over the phone,” says Marchex’s Matt Muilenburg.

Top-performing car salespeople actively listened, laughed more at the right times and said the magic words (“please” and “thank you”) during phone calls with customers 179% more often than bottom performers.

That’s according to a study by analytics company Marchex that analyzed 6,200 U.S. dealership sales conversations during January.

Top performers, defined in the report as the top 25% of salespeople, relied on active listening techniques. Those include repeating and clarifying information and consequently providing callers with relevant feedback.

The study benchmarked salespeople’s specific phone-conversation goals. Those center on getting inbound callers to schedule an appointment to either look at or test drive a vehicle.

The findings show top sales performers:

  • Requested the caller’s name 163% more often than bottom performers did.
  • Provided their direct contact information to callers 40% more often than bottom performers – and got the caller’s contact information, as well.
  • Said “please” and “thank you” 99% of the time, while lower performers used these phrases 89% of the time.
  • Laughed on more than half of their calls, which kept the calls positive and helped relax the caller.

Matt Muilenburg Headshot resized.jpg“Active listening is the key to building meaningful connections with prospective car buyers over the phone,” says Matt Muilenburg, Marchex’s automotive head. “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.” (Matt Muilenburg, left)

The report also found that asking about the caller’s needs and preferences leads to more successful outcomes. Top performers asked callers about their needs 57% more often than lower-performing salespeople.

Top performers often asked questions that actively engaged callers about their preferences, such as “Do you need third-row seating?” and “Do you want leather seats?”

Such questions help guide sales conversations and provide the caller with more comprehensive information, the report found.

“Understanding and empathy drive sales,” says Muilenburg. “This data helps dealers understand how to deliver empathy at critical moments and capture the interests of the customer over the phone.” 

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