Utilize these techniques for building rapport over the phone to gain trust with your prospects and get them into the dealership
Salespeople in the auto industry today have to be more multi-faceted than ever before. The sales cycle begins online and ends with a handshake, but all of the communication that takes place in between–emails, phone calls, texting–calls for a deeper and wider set of skills. Every chance you have to communicate with your prospect can do one of two things: propel them into the next step or make them lose interest.
Building rapport isn’t just about being friendly to make a prospect like you. Establishing real rapport with an individual means developing a mutual trust, friendship, and connection—hallmarks of effective communication. Building rapport with a customer you’re meeting with in person is usually the most favorable scenario for an auto salesperson because it’s easier to read body language and engage in casual conversation. Over the phone, though? Making an authentic connection can certainly be a little trickier.
Stuck when it comes to building rapport over the phone? Sick of the awkward silences and random hang-ups? It can take time and effort to master the art of building rapport over the phone, but there are techniques you can start incorporating today that will help get you on the right track.
6 Ways to begin building rapport with dealership prospects on the phone
This may seem silly if you aren’t looking directly at the person you’re talking to, but it is possible to tell if someone is smiling while they’re talking to you on the phone. Smiling while you speak will help you maintain a warm, friendly tone as opposed to a forceful, sales-oriented one.
2. Use their name
Why use a customer’s name in conversation? To quote Dale Carnegie, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Sales-related calls can seem so impersonal, but one easy way to show you care about the individual on the other end of the line is to address them by name throughout your conversation randomly. It shows you’re engaged with them and not the money you stand to make off of them.
3. Adapt to the prospect’s “vibe”
Are you generally a loud, exuberant, talkative person? Your energy level could be extremely off-putting if you get on the line with a quieter customer that prefers to speak in shorter sentences. Don’t completely compromise your personality, but be aware of the energy level and communication style of the customer on the other end and adjust your approach accordingly.
Again, this may seem like a no-brainer, but many salespeople forget their “listening ears” before they get on a phone call. You’re not just calling to talk at a prospect — you’re calling to speak with them. When they’re talking, don’t just sit and wait for your chance to speak again. Listen to what they are saying and, in some instances, repeat back to them to show that you’re listening.
5. Show interest
If you’re working on building rapport with a customer on the phone and they throw out a personal detail—for example, her daughter just had a baby, or his family just got a new dog—break out of your script for two seconds to show interest. Congratulate grandma on the new addition, or ask what kind of dog the family got and what they named it.
6. Be natural
Your dealership may have you follow a script when you make calls. Scripts can be extremely useful, especially in cold-calling, but sometimes a nervous salesperson may rely on them too heavily and forget to engage in a natural conversation. The best salespeople can read from a script while still building rapport and the customer on the other end of the line is none the wiser.
One of the most important things to remind yourself of when building rapport with prospects is that not everyone wants to chat or cares enough to engage very deeply with you. You may practice all of the techniques listed above, get great at phone calls, and still encounter people that have no desire to speak with you. And that’s okay! Being an auto salesperson can be challenging, and you’re always going to have customers that are resistant to your charms—but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep practicing and become the best at what you do.