Relationship Selling – How Employees Can Be Brand Ambassadors for Auto Retailers

Relationship Selling for Car Dealers

When people think about car sales, they often have a stereotypical image. For example, the used-car salesman and aluminum siding huckster as played by Danny DeVito in “Tin Men.” Characters such as these operate in a win/lose mode. An exchange where the seller tries to trick, persuade or coerce the customer to buy. In contrast, relationship selling is a win/win game. If the product or service being sold truly meets the needs of the buyer, both parties benefit as a result of the sale.

Traditional vs. Relationship Selling

Tin Men – 1987

The idea of relationship selling isn’t necessarily new. The term you can trace back to Dale Carnegie in the early-to-mid 1900s. But the art surely has been applied since selling was a thing. Now more than ever, though, relationship selling, especially in vehicle sales, is growing increasingly more important.

The reason why has to do with transparency, since consumers now have access to the same information as dealers. And more options. As Ken Potter of Build-A-Brand explains in the video, “When I first started selling cars, it was in the early 90s. Back then, consumers had limited information. There wasn’t a heavy emphasis on what dealerships had to do to differentiate themselves.”

Differentiation is Part of the Dealership Brand

This leads to something else that has become increasingly important, a dealership’s brand. Unlike most businesses, dealers face extraordinarily unique challenges with their brand. From being a local multi-million dollar business, to being a franchise, and to selling a very important product. A product, mind you, that sells better with trust. A product that sells best with a relationship.

When a dealership embraces relationship selling, this becomes part of its brand. It becomes something that differentiates the dealership.

Make Relationship Selling Part of Your Dealership Brand

Most dealerships today do a great job taking care of customers. Which is why, “[T]he most important thing,” according to Potter, “for a dealership to be thinking about when it comes to branding is what is already going on at the dealership.”

“Your brand is essentially what others think about you. People say to me, Ken, you’re so serious all the time. I don’t get that, but I guess that’s my brand.“

"You're brand is essentially what others think of you." - Ken Potter

In order to make relationship selling part of your dealership brand, employees must become brand advocates. Not only must they buy into your dealership’s messaging, but also they must deliver it, consistently.

There is only so much you can control at the dealership level. Providing the tools and resources your employees need, your brand advocates, to carry out the message, is key. And by doing so, the dealership is able to leverage these 1-to-1 relationships, and create new marketing channels.

The messaging is one part of your brand. A part you can control. But another part of your brand, a part you can’t control, are the perceptions people have of your dealership. And what they tell others. This is why customer reviews and review sites have become so important. Which is also why your employees, your brand advocates, need resources. They need tools, training, and information to make them effective on review sites and in social media.

Help Your Team Grow, Thrive, and Be Advocates for the Dealership

How do you leverage your employees to become advocates and share your dealership message, your brand, in a compliant manner? This is where old school prospecting meets new school digital engagement. This is where relationship selling software for dealers comes into play. Software designed for the Dealer to give its sales staff the tools and resources it needs to be brand ambassadors.

The benefits include…

  • Create new marketing channels through your employees
  • Deliver your dealership’s branded message across multiple mediums
  • Leverage the 1-to-1 relationships of your employees
  • Help customers and employees become advocates, brand ambassadors

Something to think about…

If you could get one message out to every customer thinking about doing business with you, what would that be? What would you want them to think about you?

About the Author

Ryan Jeffrey Gerardi
Ryan Jeffrey Gerardi is Chief Editor of AutoConverse Magazine and Executive Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Podcast and Live Weekly Webcast called the Mobility Tech & Connectivity Show, or MTC Show. He is also Founder & President of AutoConversion with nearly 20 years experience in the transportation space. Ryan concentrates his efforts today on exploring people, ideas, and technologies related to how we get around and how we are connected, being a father and studying Taoism and Wu Wei.