break the ice

Most people are uncomfortable initiating a big purchase, especially a car. No matter how much research they’ve done before coming to your lot, most customers are shy to start, afraid to commit or bungle the deal. As a salesperson, your job is to break the ice and get the ball rolling.

Here are five ways you can break the ice and start things on the right foot.

Channel Your Inner Sherlock

While you may be tempted to engage with a walk-on immediately, it’s worth your while to hang back for a little (after greeting them of course). Give yourself a chance to observe the customer as they walk around, making mental notes of what they seem most interested in and whatever other data they unconsciously project. Do they have a family trailing them? Are they a couple in the honeymoon phase? Do the models they look at all have some common features?

Once you’ve gathered some data, use this information to springboard into a conversation. Position yourself as a guide who anticipates their needs or interests, and you’ll go a long way toward gaining the trust needed to close a mutually-beneficial deal.

Find Common Ground

This method takes the opposite approach. This icebreaker requires immediate engagement, though with a similar emphasis on patience. When customers visit the lot, greet them, and strike up a conversation that generates common interests.

While you can talk cars, keep the conversation away from selling and focused on connection. Are they from the area? Do they ever visit a park nearby? Is their daughter the same age as yours? Great! Discussing these kinds of connections help relax the customer, and signals they can trust your sales advice because of your similarities.

Give Them a Unique Complimentbreak the ice

Like the first method, this technique requires a little bit of patience to be effective.

You may have heard that giving a compliment is a good icebreaker, and it is. The thing is, the praise needs to be sincere to be truly useful. Just walking up and saying, “I like your tie,” isn’t going to cut it, at least not if you’re in it to win it.

A more effective approach would be to observe them for a minute and then compliment them on something you notice. Even if that thing is still their tie, that pause will make it clear that you genuinely admired it, rather than arbitrarily picked it out. Compliments with thought behind them pack a powerful trust punch.

Wear Yourself on Your Sleeve

Or rather, provide clues about yourself that could make you relatable and serve as conversation openers. Funky lapel pins, a pink ribbon in honor of a loved one, an unusual wristwatch… these are all items that spark interest and are great lead-ins. They have the customer coming to you, wanting to strike up a conversation. Once again, look at these discussions as ways to get to know one another and avoid selling straight off.

Show Them Your Pearly Whites

This last tip might sound basic, but a smile is one of the best icebreakers there is. Psychologically, few can keep from returning a smile aimed at them, and often they feel compelled to connect when they do. Most customers are on guard when a salesperson approaches them on the lot. Giving them a smile to mirror disarms them and will provide you with the opening you need.

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