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How to Bring Authenticity to Automotive Retail Selling

We live in a world where it is extremely hard to pretend to be something you’re not. Social media and constant digital interconnectivity have put our lives out in front of the whole world for everyone to see. It’s kind of like the movie “The Truman Show”, except we are all basically aware of what’s happening.

Humans have always felt a need to put their best face forward. This is especially true in western culture. The modern age has accelerated this push of self-promotion to the point where we don’t believe most of what we see anymore. We want to know what’s under the surface. We want more authenticity.

“Authenticity” and “the authentic self” have become buzz words in our society today as a sort of cry for help. A cry for realism. But what does all of this have to do with selling cars? Everything.

Sales, as a profession, has been looked down on by many in society for generations. Sales people have often been looked upon as the worst of self-promoters. The “used-car-salesman” stigma comes from a perceived lack of authenticity.

Helping Others Find Solutions

What is selling really, and why is authenticity so important?

It its basest form, selling is simply the process of exchanging goods or services for money or some other consideration. The process involves a customer with a need and a sales mechanism (i.e. salesperson) offering a solution. There’s nothing sleazy about it.

authenticityAccording to Kendrick Shope, CEO and creator of Authentic Selling, “at its core, selling is helping. The people who want to buy your product or service are out there waiting on you, and that’s what authentic selling focuses on. Your customers exist, but it’s your job to go out there and tell them how your product or service can help them.”

As a sales leader, you need to have a firm conviction that your product or service solves a meaningful problem for your customers. It is important that you believe in what you are selling, not just in the paycheck that comes from selling it. This difference in motivation is key and customers can sense it.

Real Conversations

Customers are individuals. Salespeople are too. While sales scripts seem to be a way of life for salespeople, no matter how well you write your script, they are sure to sound scripted. In the spirit of authenticity, I would challenge you to put away the sales script and start having real conversations that lead to real sales conversions.

Conversions can happen when you least expect it. You may convince a buyer that he or she needs to commit when you’re talking about kids soccer or sharing your experience traveling across Europe.

Author, sales coach and millionaire David Neagle explained, “If we understand what’s going on under the surface, we can move a sales conversation hundreds of miles down the road because we know what’s happening and we can then ask questions to redirect it in the direction that it needs to go.”

Use Technology

The average sale requires 7 to 10 touches with the brand before a potential buyer converts into a customer. But the thing is, customers aren’t just giving you their money—they’re also giving you time.

This means that we need to take up a lot of the customers time just to get enough of their attention for them to buy. Fortunately, technology makes this task easier, less invasive and more authentic.

Tech has made it easier than ever for touch points to show respect for a prospect’s time.

For example, a video link could allow individuals to walk around a vehicle from their home, and a text message can answer a question in a fraction of the time a phone call would take. When you use digital touch points that make these interactions more convenient, you’ll make a better overall impression.

Being Yourself and Serve Others

The moral of the story is be yourself. Discover your own way of selling and make sure that you use your unique talents and abilities to connect with others, without using a prescribed method of doing things.

Wake up each day with a goal to make a significant difference in the lives of your prospects and customers. If your entire focus is making sure the people you come in contact with all benefit in some way, even if they don’t choose to do business with you right away, you will be successful.

The authentic salesperson is not attached to the outcome of the sale unless there is a significant and direct benefit to their customer. This is why authentic salespeople are the happiest salespeople. Money, recognition and upward mobility in the dealership are simply the byproducts of who these people are and how they sell every day.

Ken Strong
Ken Strong
Retail automotive veteran and writer for

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