The Meet and Greet. The Needs Assessment. Getting to know them on the test drive. Making friends while waiting for figures from the manager. All of these are associated with the idea that building rapport is the key to selling cars. Well, building rapport is OUT! It is no longer a determining factor for many customers when buying a new vehicle.
We all have countless sales stories from our retail days (those of us who’ve done retail at least) of instances where finding a common ground with customers has helped us sell them a car. It still can go a long way in creating a more comfortable sales experience. However, I will say it again… “building rapport” is out.
The new focus should be “Fostering Relationships”. I know many of you are saying “splitting hairs” or “semantics”, but I don’t believe these two phrases mean the same thing. Building rapport is looking for some mutual understanding or trying to find ways to align yourself with the individual person. Fostering relationships involves the development of trust before the handshake, during the interaction, and long after the customer leaves the store.
Building rapport happens mostly in person and occasionally on the phone and email. Fostering relationships is peer to peer. It involves creating an evidence of honesty in your interactions with other customers. It relies on developing ways to grow your relationship further. It carries with it the idea that a relationship should develop after the sale opposed to just prior to the sale.
I will not tell you to do away with the “Where did you go to school?” or “Where do you work? questions. I won’t ask you to cease the “How do you use your current car?” inquisitions or the “Yeah, my sister lives in that town” scenarios.
Instead, I’d like you to think of ways to engage the customer before you are engaged. Reviews, testimonials, video bios and more are all ways to start fostering a relationship with customers before first contact. What is the difference between building rapport in person or fostering a relationship in person? The former is asking questions, looking for commonalities. The latter is discussing how you will serve them and continue to earn their business long after the sale. (Think “new owner clinic discussions” and “loyalty program talks”.)
Put a strategy into place today (whether it is in your service department, your social media calendar, your CRM follow-up, or your post-sale deliverables) that will allow you to truly foster a relationship with this customer. In the days of multiple mediums to communicate (especially social platforms), it is more important than ever to maximize your connection with your customers. This connection shouldn’t just be between the customer, the salesperson and their church, but instead, how your entire organization serves the church, the community, and the individual customer with your personal services.
Stop thinking that building rapport is all you need to sell a vehicle in a 2012 world. You must foster relationships before, during and after, if you truly want to develop ongoing customer satisfaction. Building rapport is all about completing a short-term action while fostering relationships are about implementing long-term strategies.