car sales professional

Whether it’s posting a selfie on your social media or seeking approval from your sales manager for a job well done, every facet of our society is driven by the desire to be liked and accepted. 

As a salesperson in today’s market, gaining acceptance from both your customers and your co-workers can be increasingly difficult. Persistent supply chain issues and a still-raging pandemic have customers bristling at high prices, while sales staff fight to lay claim to whatever inventory is available. It’s hard to give your job 100% when you feel like everyone thinks you’re trying to pull the wool over their eye.

But even though the world has completely changed in the past few years, there are some things that will never change in the world of automotive sales. Once you learn to harness these valuable core lessons, you too can not only be a well-liked car sales professional but a successful one as well: 

  1. Learn to actively listen  
  2. Know your product 
  3. Utilize CRM and follow up 
  4. Never overpromise and underdeliver
  5. Take care of your customers and the sales will follow 

Ready to jump in and cover these topics in more detail? Let’s do this! 

Learn To Actively Listen 

There’s a reason why this skill is at the top of the list. 

Of all the things that make a car sales professional well-liked and successful, practicing active listening is the most important. Customers are not numbers, spiffs, or commissions. They’re people, and they’re buying a car for a reason. Besides a home, a vehicle is the second most expensive thing a person will ever buy. So how do you get to the reason why someone is buying a vehicle, so you can better position your product and help your customer?

Active listening begins and ends with asking open-ended questions. These are questions that can not be answered with a simple yes or no answer. Instead of asking your customer “Is this vehicle for you?”, instead ask “Who is this vehicle for?” Use open-ended questions to dig deeper, and deeper into your customer’s intentions for the vehicle. “How will you use your vehicle?” “ What do you drive now?” followed by “ How does it meet your needs?” We could go on and on. 

Practicing active listening ensures that your customer has their needs met, leaves them feeling like you’ve actually listened instead of spewing out features and benefits that mean nothing to them, and the information you gather can help you position the right product to meet their needs.

Know Your Product 

You have every opportunity to be the expert on your product line, and not being an expert is a missed opportunity that will cost you sales. 

Once you’ve ascertained what customers’ burning needs are, you’ll need to be ready and armed with the expertise to turn those needs into an opportunity to properly position your product. If you don’t know your product line inside and out, effective positioning will be impossible, and frankly, your customer will know if you’re not an expert. No one making a purchase as large as a vehicle wants to be helped by someone who doesn’t know their stuff. 

Knowing your product line allows you to not only upsell a customer but move them laterally or down a few levels as well. Few customers expect a vehicle salesperson to convince them that they would be better off with a cheaper vehicle, but if you’ve actively listened to the fullest extent, and you know your stuff, your opinion could have a major impact on their decision-making process because they trust you. 

At the end of the day, trust is hard to achieve but being a subject matter expert goes a long way. 

Utilize CRM & Follow Up 

Not every customer is going to make a decision the day they come on the lot. 

Related: How the right automotive CRM can help during the inventory crunch

Statistically, it becomes much more difficult to sell a customer once they are off the lot. This is largely because retail automotive salespeople do not take advantage of CRM or send proper follow-up communications. Once a customer moves off the lot, proper diligence will be key to staying top of mind. If you’ve done a good job listening and building trust with the customer, they’ll be happy to hear that you’re still engaged and ready to help them. Move beyond the phone, and use methods like text messaging or email to really get it done. 

Proper follow-up will also give you the opportunity to move on from dead leads or customers who are no longer in the market for a vehicle. Sales is a numbers game. The more follow-up you do, the more likely you are to catch someone who is ready to make a decision. 

Never Overpromise & Underdeliver at Your Dealership

One of the fastest ways to undermine trust and become unlikeable is to set up expectations that you, or your team cannot deliver on. 

A perfect example of this would be promising a customer a specific payment on a vehicle or telling a customer something is in stock without checking to see if it is first. These scenarios can lead to unhappy customers, and unhappy customers talk a lot more than happy ones. One unhappy person can affect the opinion of dozens of their family and friends. This ruins not only your reputation, but that of the dealership and brand you represent as well. 

The bottom line is, never promise something you are not absolutely sure you can deliver on. 

Take Care Of Your Customers & The Sales Will Follow

Taking care of your customers does not mean that you’re giving things away for free, giving massive discounts, or throwing things into the deal like accessories or add-ons for nothing. If anything, those tactics undermine who you are a salesperson, what your dealership represents, and what your brand represents. 

What taking care of your customers actually means is doing everything in your power to make the deal happen for your customers and not for yourself. If you always put the focus on moving the deal along by going the extra mile, be it delivering a car to a customer, arranging financing, or helping usher the deal along through several objections, the sales will inevitably follow. 

The beauty of adopting this way of thinking is your customers will undoubtedly like you for taking care of them. And, since you did your job right in the beginning, your customers walk away with a vehicle that fits their needs and makes them happy at a price that they can afford. 

This is the ultimate win-win.

Break The Car Sales Professional Stereotype

In order to be a well-liked car sales professional, you’re unfortunately fighting a long and arduous uphill battle because of society’s negative perception. 

People need to buy cars, and that will never change. However, today, there are more ways than ever to buy a car that do not involve being assisted by a salesperson at all. These transactional processes have been pioneered by companies like Carvana or Shift, and they completely remove car salespeople from the mix. Due to their success, many real customers feel that they no longer need to speak to a car sales professional to buy a car. We should all ask ourselves why this is the case. 

We must be better at our profession to draw people back into dealerships. We must also admit that we carry some of the blame for people’s lack of trust in our profession. This is a tough business, and you need to approach your customers and their unique situations with a level of empathy and compassion that you may not initially be comfortable with. 

Remember that your customers are spending their hard-earned money on the second most expensive purchase they’ll ever make, and your commitment to approaching the situation with care and compassion will ensure that your customers will love to work with you and send more people your way. 

It’s time to look at things a different way and move away from making the sale and towards making your customers ecstatic. 

Success will follow.

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