Creating Customer Rapport

customer rapport

You don’t have to be BFFs, but They Must Like You

All of us who truly want to serve our customers are looking for ways to create rapport with them that will lead to effective communication and a successful and long term business relationship. But, is it really possible to have that kind of rapport with customers early on in the sales process, and is it, in fact, even necessary at this point?

The dictionary defines rapport as follows: “A close and harmonious relationship between two people.” What a big expectation from someone you just met and have only spent a couple hours with at most! Especially, when you consider the industry we are talking about and the general apprehensions that most people have about the car sales business and the people who work in it.

Root Canal or Go to A Dealership?

It has long been said that many car shoppers would rather go to a dentist for a root canal than go to a car dealership to buy a vehicle. It seems to me that to go from that mindset to best buddies in just a matter of an hour or so might be about as far-fetched as bringing back the AMC Pacer and having it win the ‘Best in Class Award’ at the next NADA convention.

How about the word harmonious? That was part of the definition of rapport. Harmonious is defined as “Something that is comforting and soothing.”

We are car salespeople. Our job is to sell the customer a car. When? Now! And, for how much gross? As much as possible! Do you really think that creates an environment that will create rapport and comfort? I don’t think so!

Then there is the word trust. Do we really think that customers will trust us? Remember, our job is to sell them a car now. And, they know that. They also believe, whether it is true or not, that most salespeople will make “Gross” on their own grandmother if they can.

So, how do we gain the customer’s trust and create an atmosphere of confidence and effective communication during our sales presentation? How do we create an environment that allows them to drop their defense mechanisms and give us an opportunity to earn their business based on the merits of our product, our personality and our dealership quality?

Though you may not be able to earn someone’s trust or complete confidence within the time line of your average sales presentation, the truth is, every day in every city in America a car salesperson sells a vehicle to someone they met just a few hours before.

What’s the secret?

What’s the secret? Why would someone spend tens of thousands of dollars with a person they just met on a vehicle they may have only driven one time for as little as ten minutes or less? Knowing that their relationship with the salesperson is not comforting or soothing?

The answer to that question is likability. You may not be able to create rapport or trust in such a short time, but you certainly can get someone to like you, which can result in at least some level of a harmonious relationship right from the start.

The fact is, at the core of what we teach at David Lewis & Associates, is that being unique, different and inspiring plays a huge part in creating a working relationship between the salesperson and the customer.

Think about this: the emotion that plays such a part in the car the customer chooses can have just as much impact on their feelings about the salesperson they buy from. They usually have less time with the car than they do with the salesperson, yet they often make a decision they are happy with for years to come based on their likability of the salesperson.

If a car can create that kind of a connection with a customer, certainly an inspiring and genuinely helpful salesperson should be able to do the same, don’t you agree? So, what is the answer to the title question at the top of this article? Can you really create rapport with customers?

Perception is Reality

Maybe you can with some and can’t with others, but I think we have enough sales occurring on a daily basis at dealerships across the country to at least show that you can develop enough of a harmonious connection to get the customers to take a shot at liking you.

Remember, perception is reality and if customers perceive that you are someone worth liking, they should be able to translate that into the confidence needed to buy a car from you if you have one they really like.

As our students have shown over the past 30-plus years, if you are unique, different and inspiring in your personality and your sales presentation, customers appreciate that and will very likely choose you as someone they want to buy their next car from and maybe the one after that too.


Read the article in CarBizToday Magazine: