What Single Phrase Increases Salespeople’s Phone Appointments by 12% to 44%?

It’s so easy to do, if only more salespeople knew about it.

One day I was talking to Greg, a client of mine who is the general manager of a dealership in the Orlando, Florida area. He told me about the time he had been a volunteer at the Disney World annual marathon. His job had been offering candy bars to runners at the 22 mile mark “candy stop,” which was toward the end of the marathon. He did this with a small group of other volunteers.

Greg said initially about 2 out of 10 runners accepted his candy bar offer. Then Greg noticed each runner had their name on their shirt. So he decided to start calling them by their name when offering them a candy bar. “Tyler, would you like a candy bar… Martha care for a candy bar… “

To his surprise, once he started saying their names, his candy bar acceptance rate jumped up to the 90% range.

The other candy bar volunteers started noticing what was happening with Greg, so they started saying each runner’s name too. Suddenly they had about the same increase in acceptance rate.

The change was so dramatic that Greg wanted to try an experiment…

Greg asked the other volunteers to stop using the runners’ names to see what would happen, and they agreed and all stopped. They still made a pleasant offer, but they said, “Here’s a candy bar… would you care for a candy bar… ” without mentioning any names. As quick as they stopped doing this, their acceptance rates dropped back down to around the 20% range again.

The reason Greg told me this story was because we just completed doing a dealership wide phone sales audit at his store.

One of the tests we did that prompted his story was study of two groups of calls.

In Group A: We randomly pulled calls where the salesperson used the prospect’s name one or more times during the telephone conversation.

In Group B: We randomly pulled calls where the salesperson did not use the prospect’s name during the telephone conversation. In general with this group, the salespeople were just as friendly and some even said “Ma’am” or “Sir” as they talked. They just didn’t say the prospects name such as “Mr. Jones” or “Bill.”

At Greg’s dealership the vehicle sales department had a 36% greater appointment rate when they used the prospect’s name on the phone compared to the group that didn’t. In the service department, they had a 19% greater appointment rate when they used the prospect’s name on the phone.

The first time we did this test at a dealership, Group A had a 26% higher conversion rate of leads to appointments than Group B. We have been doing these audits now for a few years and the results have fluctuated from a low of 12% greater appointment rate to a high of 44% greater appointment rate.

We have done these dealership telephone audits with different size dealerships, in different markets, from different franchises. We have even gone back a year later and re-audited a dealership’s current calls. The one consistent result, we find, is when salespeople use a prospect’s name one or more times in a phone conversation, their average rate of converting leads to appointments increases noticeably.

Our most current statistical audit results show that 41% of the time on inbound sales calls salespeople do not use the caller’s name during the conversation even one time. But if I had to guess, I would say 90% plus of salespeople think they do use the caller’s name. Service advisors’ use of the caller’s name is significantly lower than salespeople.

Next time you are hesitant to get on the phones, try this tip to increase your phone appointments by 12% to 44%…

… and use the prospect’s name in conversation. Some of you probably know from experience sales appointments have a much higher closing ratio than regular ups, so this is a very lucrative thing to get good at.

Please note our audits have found that it’s important not to overkill with this tip and say their names too many times to where it seems artificial.

When talking to a friend, you would probably naturally use their name a couple times in conversation. That number is consistent with the best number of times to get appointments according to our statistical sampling.