Even in the Internet era, the phone remains a sales tool

Patrick Stark has a daily ritual. Stark is the general manager at Yark Chevrolet in Whitehouse, Ohio, near Toledo. Every morning he reviews the phone calls that came into the sales department the day before. It’s part of his daily tracking of walk-in, Internet and phone leads.

“We just try to get our arms around it every day,” Stark told other dealership managers last week during a Cars.com webinar on how general managers build successful Internet cultures in their stores.

Leads from third-party Internet sources are becoming more important, outperforming the dealership’s other leads during the past 90 days, Stark said. Dealerships and vendors have gotten better at presenting vehicles online with write-ups, digital pictures and even video.

“It appears that’s where people are going first,” Stark said.

But back to those phone calls.

“Every morning, I listen to all the phone calls that came in the day before to make sure we’re answering the phone the same way we’d answer an Internet lead,” Stark said. “Anything over two minutes, I listen to it all the way through to see how the salesperson is answering that phone call and what the customer is actually looking for.”

He then reviews it with the salesperson. Stark stresses the importance of checking back in with a potential customer from any kind of lead.

“Sometimes I think we’re very quick to respond to the lead, and we’re very poor in following that up 30 to 60 days afterward,” he said. “So we try to keep a running log of where those customers are at and follow up with them.”