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Joe Webb

Joe Webb Founder / Trainer

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Building Rapport is OUT!

 

The Meet and Greet.  The Needs Assessment.  Getting to know them on the test drive.  Making friends while waiting for figures from the manager.  All of these are associated with the idea that building rapport is the key to selling cars.  Well, building rapport is OUT!  It is no longer a determining factor for many customers when buying a new vehicle.

We all have countless sales stories from our retail days (those of us who’ve done retail at least) of instances where finding a common ground with customers has helped us sell them a car.  It still can go a long way in creating a more comfortable sales experience.  However, I will say it again… “building rapport” is out.

The new focus should be “Fostering Relationships”.  I know many of you are saying “splitting hairs” or “semantics”, but I don’t believe these two phrases mean the same thing.   Building rapport is looking for some mutual understanding or trying to find ways to align yourself with the individual person.  

 involves the development of trust before the handshake, during the interaction, and long after the customer leaves the store.

Building rapport happens mostly in person and occasionally on the phone and email.  Fostering relationships is peer to peer.  It involves creating an evidence of honesty in your interactions with other customers.  It relies on developing ways to grow your relationship further.  It carries with it the idea that a relationship should develop after the sale opposed to just prior to the sale.

I will not tell you to do away with the “Where did you go to school?” or “Where do you work? questions.  I won’t ask you to cease the “How do you use your current car?” inquisitions or the “Yeah, my sister lives in that town” scenarios.

Instead, I’d like you to think of ways to engage the customer before you are engaged.  Reviews, testimonials, video bios and more are all ways to start fostering a relationship with customers before first contact.  What is the difference between building rapport in person or fostering a relationship in person?  The former is asking questions, looking for commonalities.  The latter is discussing how you will serve them and continue to earn their business long after the sale.  (Think “new owner clinic discussions” and “loyalty program talks”.)

Put a strategy into place today (whether it is in your service department, your social media calendar, your CRM follow-up, or your post-sale deliverables) that will allow you to truly foster a relationship with this customer.  In the days of multiple mediums to communicate (especially social platforms), it is more important than ever to maximize your connection with your customers.  This connection shouldn’t just be between the customer, the salesperson and their church, but instead, how your entire organization serves the church, the community, and the individual customer with your personal services.

Stop thinking that building rapport is all you need to sell a vehicle in a 2012 world.  Building rapport is all about completing a short-term action while fostering relationships are about implementing long-term strategies.  You must foster relationships before, during and after, if you truly want to develop ongoing customer satisfaction.

David Johnson
"In a recent study conducted by the Journal Of Consumer Research it was found that consumers don’t buy into the idea that they are in “relationships” with sales people, at least not the same kind of relationship they share with family and friends. The study goes on to say that buyers slip into the normal script of trying to behave as if the sellers interactions are real relationships just to be polite, when in fact, it can have a negative effect if the seller tries too hard to build a real relationship, during the sale." I wrote that a while back in a blog post, I agree with what you are saying here and is something I echo. Too many salespeople try small talk, hoping to build rapport when what they really should be focusing on is outstanding customer service, customer service that goes so above and beyond what the customer expects that they want to tell others about the experience. I really like how you pinpoint ways to create a true interpersonal relationship before and after the sale. That's where the real relationship happens anyway. Great post Joe!
Brady Irvine
I think that the version of rapport building that you talk about is as effective as ever if the person asking the questions is actually interested in the answers. Too many times it comes across as fake because the salesperson tunes out the answer and starts thinking of the next question, or worse just waiting to talk about themselves. When I am getting to know a customer, I am genuinely curious about their lives and what makes them "tick", and it seems to work pretty well.
Lindsey Auguste
Building rapport is a step toward fostering a relationship assuming, as Brady mentioned, the person asking the questions is interested in the answer. As Gary V alluded to at #DSES last year, the social world is bring us back to a small community where the relationship truly makes the sale. Gone are the numbers game where there are just co many people out there that you only have to be nice while they're in front of your face so that you can make the sale and move onto the next. The relationship must continue on or else the time spent developing rapport is a waste.

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