Business Tools

Crowd Favorite the "Telephone Doctor" Returns for SEMA Education Days

By Michael Hart

Nancy Friedman, the "Telephone Doctor."

Nancy Friedman, the "Telephone Doctor" and a crowd favorite at the SEMA Show, will offer her session, “Have You Asked Your Customer to Marry You? (Are You Really Engaged?),” twice during SEMA Education Days. Friedman spoke with SEMA about what attendees can expect from her sessions.

SEMA: What is a Telephone Doctor?

Nancy Friedman: I got that name from a newspaper editor in Davenport, Iowa, who said, “You’re the doctor. You’ve got the prescription for everything.” We know more business is lost to poor customer service and poor treatment than to poor products, and it’s usually done on the phone. There are people in businesses whose job is to answer the phone and have more of a service mentality than a sales mentality, and that’s so wrong.

SEMA: What is the right thing for a business to do after the phone rings?

Friedman: There are many lead generators around the country who can tell you how to make the phone ring. That’s great, but what happens when it does ring? The phone can ring, but turning it into a sale is what matters. Companies hire people to pick up the phone when it rings, but often they get screwed up and lost when somebody answers.

SEMA: What’s the biggest telephone mistake businesses make?

Friedman: We’re just not friendly enough. Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make that phone ring and, if it’s not handled just right, all that money is wasted. We answer that phone and we’re in a bad mood. We let it ring too long. We answer the phone improperly or without a name. You get less than 30 seconds to build that rapport.

SEMA: Your session includes something called “Poor Man’s Jeopardy.” What’s that?

Friedman: If you watch “Jeopardy,” you know there’s a big board with bells and whistles. We don’t have the budget for all the bells and whistles and the big board. Instead, I bring a bag, and the bag has golden nuggets, little pieces of information. I go through the audience. They get to pick out a nugget and the nugget may say “irate caller.” It might say “closing skills” or “telephone greeting” or “voice mail phrases.” They get to pick a nugget and each nugget could represent one hour of information. However, we have scaled it down to two or three minutes. By the end of the hour, we will have covered 15 to 20 golden nuggets of sales and service.

SEMA Education Days will feature more than 60 educational sessions in 12 different tracks, ranging from new-vehicle technology to best business practices to marketing strategies and emerging trends in the industry. The complete schedule of SEMA Show Education courses and educational events is available at