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Train to Bridge the Gap: Connecting the BDC and Sales Department

I believe training should happen in every department, every day. If you have a business development center (BDC), it should be mandatory! Contrary to popular belief, training doesn’t have to be a complicated affair. Ongoing, daily training does produce results.

Why do we train our BDC personnel? Because we need to bridge the gap between the sales department and the BDC, and the easiest way to do that is by properly training both sides. The most effective BDC functions like a personal assistant to the sales department; a great personal assistant will anticipate your needs, plan for all outcomes and follow up until a project is completed.

Apply those same qualities to your BDC. A BDC will anticipate your sales department’s needs by:

  • driving sufficient floor traffic
  • planning for all outcomes
  • preparing for and overcoming all objections to set firm appointments that show
  • following up
  • re-appointing until the customer shows or until management directs otherwise

So, let’s talk basic BDC training. Before business development representatives (BDRs) even get to the phone, they should have been through intensive classroom training. This should be a combination of lecture and role-playing followed by a written exam. If a potential BDR cannot pass a written exam to prove retention of the training, they should not have the opportunity to work the phones.

Role-playing should be an ongoing training method. I know many people hate to role-play, but it is one of the best, if not the best, training methods. This is because individuals have to hear, observe, retain and execute what is being taught. Additionally, it allows for immediate feedback and correction as needed. Inexperienced BDRs should also be matched with veteran BDRs for mentoring.

A business development manager (BDM) or team leader should always be in the call center listening and “loading lips,” ready and able to jump on any call at any time. This is quality control for outbound calls as well as incoming calls. The BDC is no different than the lot in that there must be a 100-percent TO policy. When I started selling cars, I didn’t know what an “up” was, but the first thing I was taught was, if you ever have an up who wants to leave, you must have a manager talk with them before they walk. That’s a 100-percent TO policy. The same thing should happen in the BDC. I never want to hear that we will call a customer back in 15 minutes.

If situations arise where a BDM, trainer or consultant is incapable of doing that which they ask their staff to do, that person needs to be replaced. It’s that simple! The “show me, don’t tell me” approach to managing any BDC is the most effective method of training by far. There needs to be an explanation and an example of how for every correction. The only way to earn an employee’s confidence is to get on the phone and show them how to do what you want done.

Every day in the BDC should begin with a warm-up session. Every professional athlete warms up before a big performance; why shouldn’t your team? It can be as simple as covering the biggest objection of the day before. The business development manager or a team leader should conduct this warm-up exercise.

Additionally, the team leader should conduct one-on-one training daily with each BDR. A great source of training material comes from mystery shopping calls. Each manager or leader in the BDC must be constantly assessing skills and training those they lead.

Just as important to the training aspect is the motivation and recognition of your BDC team. There should be public displays of excellence. Who had the “call of the week”? Who handled the most difficult call properly? Set daily, weekly and monthly goals, and reward individual and team efforts for exceeding those goals.

Training your sales department to work effectively with your BDC can be conducted by the GM, GSM, finance manager or the BDM. The focus here is for the sales department to fully understand how important the BDC is to their paychecks. The more traffic the BDC drives to the dealership, the more opportunity the sales department has to sell and earn commission. It’s not the job of the BDC to pre-qualify prospects; therefore, a percentage of appointments will not be financially capable of purchasing. That is not any different from your walk-in traffic.

Just as a salesperson wants to get credit and commission for every deal they sell, the BDC wants credit for every appointment that shows. Therefore, mandatory logging of every prospect that arrives at the dealership is the only acceptable process to have in place. There should also be a reconciliation of the previous day’s appointments and “shows” every morning.
Let’s go back to our personal assistant analogy. If your personal assistant receives positive feedback from you for a job well done, he or she will usually go out of their way to continue to exceed your expectations.

Your sales department must recognize the BDC’s primary purpose is to drive floor traffic to them to create more opportunity to sell vehicles. If they publicly acknowledge this, the BDC department will be more motivated to excel. It’s a “win-win” for both departments.
Vol 5, Issue 5



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