You only get one shot at making a first impression, and when it comes to sales that impression should be one of trustworthiness. Unfortunately, many customers walk into dealerships already believing that the salesperson they’re going to meet with is out to trick them. So how do you flip that stereotype to build a strong customer rapport from the get-go? Here are several tips that will help you connect meaningfully with new customers.

#1. Listen Well

“Listens well” isn’t just praise for kindergarteners: it’s an important skill for dealership salespeople as well. When a customer enters your dealership, show them from the very start that you value what they have to say. That means approaching them soon after they enter, making eye contact, and actively listening when they talk. Active listening takes the form of appropriate responses both in your body and verbal language, as well as repeating back key phrases the customer says to make sure you’ve understood them. We all want to be heard, so listening to a customer in a way that makes them feel valued and acknowledged will go far in creating a positive rapport.

#2. Match Their Style

Whether you’re interacting with customers one thing that can help build trust from the first meeting is to try and match their style, specifically they’re way of communicating. Some people are all business; others prefer to take the scenic route through conversations. When trying to build a connection as a salesperson, consider how the customer communicates and tailor your approach to them. An “all business” individual won’t appreciate your taking up his or her time with folksy or meandering anecdotes. Similarly, a conversational client might feel threatened if you jump right into a sales pitch. They’d prefer to hear a story about when your daughter was buying her first car, or the road trip you took during your college freshman year. Matching customers’ form of speaking allows you to address their needs, and presents you as someone who understands their needs, both of which are instant trust builders.

#3. Make it Personal

Often we try to keep our personal lives completely separate from our professional ones. While you shouldn’t share everything with customers, injecting a little bit of yourself into your initial encounter helps build trust. This is because you’ll be seen as a person they can relate too, rather than a representative of a company that’s trying to get their money. So if you meet with people in an office, display knicknacks or pictures that relate to a hobby you enjoy, or from trips you’ve taken. If you’re showing a car, mention if it’s the same model your mom drives. Let them see a part of you. They’ll in turn feel more comfortable doing business with you, as you are now seen as a human being and not a corporate lackey.

#4. Know Your Stuff

Finally, a way to instantly build trust is to bone up on your car knowledge. It’s easy to fall back on generalities, but customers will respect clear, specific details. They’ll appreciate if you can tell them exact information about a car, along with the pros and the cons. While you might worry that listing a car’s faults may be detrimental to a sale, the truth is that if you share both sides clients will know that you’re someone who tells the whole truth and nothing but the truth. With this in mind, they’ll not only trust you more, they’re also more likely to overlook small flaws in a car because they’ll know that the benefits you’ve listed are real and outweigh the negatives.

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