Despite years of industry-wide improvements including modified sales processes, training and brand image, the stigma around car salespeople is still strong. It doesn’t matter if you’re a salesperson with the highest moral compass and ethics, you still have a stigma cloud over your head because you're a car salesperson. The only way to make that cloud disappear is by working with each and every one of your customers ethically and professionally.
In 2019, Cox Automotive did a study that found 16% of shoppers didn’t buy from the first dealership they visited because of a poor experience. The study also found that 78% of customers did their research on third-party sites and only 53% trusted the dealership website enough to find information there. While many salespeople and dealerships are making a conscious effort to fight the stigma, many customers still walk in with their guard up. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to build rapport with your customers so that they can shop for a car with trust and confidence in the dealership they’re working with.
In order for you to be the best possible salesperson you can be, you need to ask questions, A LOT of questions. This of course is part of the process because you need to learn about the needs of your customers, but it goes further than that.
As you’re asking more questions, you'll begin to learn about the customer’s personal life and their interests. It could be sports, music, gaming and a whole lot more, whatever it is, if you have a similar interest, talk about it more. Use the common interest to keep the conversation going and that will surely build a stronger rapport with the customer. The stronger the rapport you have with the customer, the more likely you’ll be able to not only close the sale but get repeat business from that same customer.
This is an incredibly important part of building rapport with your customers. Not only do you need to make sure that you remember their name, but also that they remember your name. Of course, when you first introduce yourself you’ll exchange your names, but these are often forgotten. You need to make a conscious effort to pay attention during the introduction and address them by their first name during every interaction moving forward.
On the other side of things, you need to make sure that they remember your name as well. A subtle way to do this and remind the customers of your name is by saying something like “Let the receptionist know that you want to speak to Anthony once you get here and I’ll come out to see you.” While you’re still in the early stages of getting to know someone, knowing them by first name makes you feel like you know a bit better, which leads to rapport building.
For customers, there is nothing more frustrating than being promised something only to be later denied that promise. This is something that happens too often in the automotive industry and it only furthers the stigma around our industry. If you’re going to make a promise or certainty, be sure to have it written down on paper. Have every little detail jotted out on the sales agreement so there’s no possibility of miscommunication. This will give the customer confidence that you’re listening and being diligent throughout the process.
As a salesperson, listening is so important. If you don’t listen, you won’t know anything about your customer’s needs and therefore can’t help your customer find a vehicle that really fits their lifestyle. We’ve all been in conversations with people where no matter what you say, you feel like the other person is just waiting for their turn to speak rather than paying attention to what you’re saying. Think critically for a second about whether you’re guilty of this, if you are, you need to change immediately. Customers want to feel like they’re being heard and listened to, if they feel like your not listening, they will go work with a salesperson who will.
Listening means more than hearing the words come out of their mouth. It requires you to be aware of your body language and send signals to them that you’re listening as they talk. Making eye contact, smiling and having inflection in your tone of voice are key indicators that you’re really paying attention to what they’re saying.
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