The Key to Selling More Cars: Building Customer Rapport

By Canada Drives Newsroom | Dealer Services

The stigma continues to be tough to beat. Despite several years of industry-wide improvements in brand image, sales processes, and training, car dealerships across the nation continue to struggle with the ‘shady dealer’ persona.

There’s proof that car shoppers don’t trust car dealers. 

The Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey 2019 identifies the reason 16% of car shoppers didn’t buy from the first dealership they visited: poor sales experience. 

But there’s more. 

The same survey found that 78% of shoppers chose third-party sites online for their information, while only 53% trusted a dealership website for their research.

And while the industry has been working hard to shake the ‘shady’ image, many buyers still walk into the showroom with their guard up. Let’s talk about how car dealers can go that extra mile to win the trust of their customers and ultimately drive conversions. 

How to build rapport with the customer

Working to build trust in the dealership is a concerted effort that the whole team must embrace. 

Car dealers must build trust with shoppers at every stage, whether on the phone, by email, or in the showroom. It’s less about process and virtually all about making the customer feel more comfortable doing business with you. 

Have customers ask for you by name

Whether dealing with an inbound phone call, a prospect walking the lot, or a referral, you want the prospective customer to know your name early on. Of course, you’ll tell them your name when you start a conversation, but that can be easily forgotten. Business cards can be lost. If you need to arrange a time to meet them at the dealership, you want them to see you and not the next guy up. 

Deliberately yet casually, urge customers to come and ask for you by name. A phrase like, “We can pick up this conversation when you get here. Just let the receptionist know you’re here to see Mike.” 

Not only will that prospect come to see you, but you’ve begun the process of building trust. While it’s still in a fledgling state, knowing someone’s name makes you feel like you already know them a little deeper, and that’s where rapport starts.

Read More: Best Practices to Convert Auto Leads

Be a great listener

Stoic philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Listening is one of the greatest skills you can learn in sales as well as to build customer trust. 

Great listening isn’t just with your ears, though. Body language can demonstrate that you’re paying attention when you lean in, make eye contact, and smile. The inflection in your tone of voice when you respond makes you even more engaging, rather than a flat, monotonous response. 

Read More: Overcoming Common Customer Objections

Find common ground

A big part of building customer trust and rapport is in asking the right questions. Of course, this fact-finding mission looks like the normal sales process to discover the features and options that are right for the buyer. It’s more than that, though.

In those questions, you’ll come across common interests with the customer. It may be knitting, hunting, baseball, politics, or pets. For example, if a customer says they need a pickup truck for their mountain bike and you also are a novice cyclist, you can say, “I love cycling too! What’s your favourite trail?” 

Use your common interest to keep the customer engaged in conversation. The more they’re willing to open up, the better your chances of a smooth negotiation and delivery. 

Put everything on paper

The frustration of a sales promise made that’s not kept is a frustration heard by after-sales personnel in dealerships everywhere. In many cases, accurate notes were not taken because the deal was rushed. 

Malicious or not, unkept promises harm the rapport you’ve worked so hard to build. It’s easy to find the solution – put everything on the sales agreement, no matter how tiny the detail. In that way, the customer feels like you’re listening and they’ll have it in writing too. 

Take the sales process outside the dealership

The 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index reports that 87% of car shoppers dislike something about shopping at the dealership. What better way to eliminate that negative perception than to take the sales experience outside the dealership environment?

When you have an interested car buyer that’s already done their research and just needs to put their hands on the car before making a decision, meet them off-site. Take the test drive to where they are. This strategy is extremely effective at: 

  • Disarming an apprehensive customer.
  • Establishing a customer-first mentality.
  • Creating a one-on-one relationship without distractions.
  • And closing the sale in a no-pressure environment of the customer’s choosing.

Dealerships are full of genuine, trustworthy, and knowledgeable consultants that want to help customers. That’s what you need to show car shoppers to be able to sell vehicles more consistently, and that’s accomplished when you build rapport.

Canada Drives helps win customers and boost sales with high-quality leads

Canada Drives is the nation’s premier lead generation company. With our sales-savvy methods and digital know-how, we deliver steady lead flow to hundreds of certified dealerships nationwide. And we’re always looking to expand our network!

Reach out and speak with one of our regional sales managers. A consistent stream of high-intent car-buyers is just a phone call away.




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