Speak Your Customers’ Language


Not long ago doctors typically talked to their patients in professional jargon, using terms that were hard for average people to understand. The hapless patient often felt intimidated and at the mercy of the medical profession.

Sad to say, but the car business wasn’t much better. Many people in this business spoke to their customers in the language of automotive technology, which often put shoppers at a disadvantage.

But today’s consumers don’t have to tolerate that type of treatment. Competition for customers is keen, and dealers that build quick rapport with shoppers get the sales. Here are some quick tips to freshen up our rapport building skills.

Don’t Talk ‘Over Their Heads’

Yes, you know a lot about cars and your excitement about them is contagious. But your prospects already see you as an expert, so you don’t have to convince them of your expertise by using overly technical words.

Next time you are in front of a prospect listen carefully to how he/she expresses themselves. For example, they won’t likely inquire about drivetrains, but might simply ask about the engine. When answering, you should also use the word engine. It’s a good skill to learn because it gets you in the habit of concentrating on what your prospects are saying.

Know that Women Communicate Differently than Men

The car industry is still considered ‘male-dominated’ because more men than women have careers in this field, so far. But that’s changing.

Much has been written about the difference in communication styles between men and women. For a quick refresher on the topic, you can read our article here:


Now let’s look at how we can converse better with different age groups.

Respect the Generation X and Millennial Shoppers

Yes, they might have you pre-judged as old-fashioned and set in your ways. And you might think everybody of that age is enamored with smartphones, Bluetooth, and online car shopping. Good luck selling anything with all those pre-conceived notions clouding the air.

The truth is that young people work just as hard as you did at that age, but they have to hold two or even three part-time jobs to earn decent money. That’s the new nature of our economy. So, don’t belittle their job at Starbucks or the local Pet Smart store, or both.

And when they pull out their smartphone to show you a competitor’s price on a similar car, show some interest in the fancy phone. Ask about its features. You might learn something.

Baby Boomers

Shoppers aged about 50 to 70 are a tricky group. Their finances have been battered by recessions and stock market crashes, but don’t let that fool you about their buying ability.

Along with age comes 401K plans to spend, along with inheritances and life insurance proceeds they receive when their parents die. That’s a lot of wealth walking into your showroom ‘just to look around.’ So, don’t prejudge them by the 20-year-old car they drove up in.

Widows are another special group. In addition to their own savings and inheritances from their parents, they also inherited their husband’s wealth when he died.

So, when the nice widow declines a credit check as she ‘looks around your showroom’ it is not an objection for you to overcome. When she chooses the vehicle she likes she will simply write you a check for it.

The Greatest Generation – Parents of Baby Boomers

How do they describe your cars’ features? They might use words and phrases that sound very outdated. To understand them, just politely ask what they mean. They might even tell you about the first car they owned, a brand that is no longer around. Be interested., and always say ‘Yes Sir’ and ‘Yes Ma’am.’ They expect that courtesy.