In auto sales, communication skills are what separate the top salespeople from the weak links
Think back to when you decided to become an automotive salesperson. Did any of the following thoughts pop into your mind?
a) “I love cars and know everything about them, so I’d obviously be great at selling them, too!”
b) “Everyone says I’m charming and talk a lot. Those are perfect traits for a salesperson.”
c) “I can talk anyone into doing anything, I’d be awesome at selling cars!”
If so, you may have discovered by now that those traits are salespeople stereotypes and don’t often translate to a successful, long career selling vehicles. What sets top dealership salespeople apart from the rest? Outstanding sales communication skills.
Communication is more than talking, telling, or explaining. It allows you to truly understand potential buyers and connect with them in an authentic way that, hopefully, translates into a sale that everyone is happy with. Communication has many sides—both verbal and nonverbal—and requires a variety of different skills to send the intended message.
How are your sales communication skills? Here are some of the most essential
1. Active listening
Many salespeople are extroverts and love talking to people all day. That’s not a bad thing, but if you’re dominating every conversation you have with a prospective buyer in your dealership, you’re not communicating—you’re just talking too much.
You will gain far more valuable insight by letting your customer speak and actively listening to them. Active listening is not just nodding your head and zoning out; it involves occasionally repeating what the person has said to show you’re listening, summarizing what they’ve told you, and asking relevant questions to clarify your understanding.
2. Reading and managing body language
Your customer may be saying one thing, but if you can read their body language, it may be telling you a completely different story that reveals how they’re feeling. Likewise, watch your own body language. If you aren’t great at maintaining eye contact or cross your arms across your body a lot, you may unintentionally be coming across as shy, unsure, or closed-off.
3. Adjusting tone of voice
Among the most important sales communication skills, watching your tone of voice is often forgotten. Pay attention to how your buyer speaks—their volume, pitch, word choice, and speed. Don’t imitate them, but try to adjust your own tone of voice to match theirs.
4. Communicating expertise without being condescending
Your customer wants you to be an expert in your field, and they love your enthusiasm for the vehicle they’re about to test drive. There is a fine line, however, between sharing that expertise and sounding condescending. You have to learn to communicate that knowledge in a way that your customer can understand without having the background you do.
Remember when you were a kid and you questioned and wondered about everything? Get back into that frame of mind when you meet a new customer. Resist the urge to start your whole sales schtick and instead, ask genuine, relevant questions that will help you get to the heart of what they need.
6. Total honesty
One of the top sales communication skills any salesperson needs—but especially an auto salesperson—is to share information sincerely. That means if they ask you a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t make something up. Be honest, tell them you’re not sure, but you’re going to find out for them. It’s a simple way to build trust.
Tips for improving your sales communication skills
You’ve already taken the first step! You read the list of six sales communication skills every car salesperson should have—now, take a personal inventory of where you think you’re falling short. Choose one skill to work on during your work day and pay attention to how your customers react and how your conversations change (hopefully for the better).
If you’re serious about improving your sales communication skills, schedule a time to sit down and speak with your sales manager. Let your manager know that you’re interested in improving your communication skills, feel it’s something the whole team could benefit from, and ask if the topic could be covered in a few sales meetings, or if the dealership will pay to bring in an expert. It’s worth asking and shows your commitment to becoming a successful auto salesperson.