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Rapport and Influence - Equal Partners

Rapport is a topic that is often discussed in the automotive industry. According to Wikipedia, rapport occurs when two or more people feel that they are in sync or on the same wavelength because they feel similar or relate well to each other. The questions are "How do you really build rapport with someone on the phone?" and "Does rapport really matter?" People are more receptive to people like themselves. To build rapport on the phone, make sure you take the correct approach. Before you ever pick up the phone, you must be confident in yourself, your dealership, and in your products. Notice, I said confident...not cocky. You never want to talk down to your customers. Have a tone in your voice that makes them feel comfortable and welcome. Your customers should get a feeling of chatting with an old friend. Find common ground, if possible. The more comfortable they are with you, the more they will listen and trust you. Many trainers will teach you to mirror your customer. Mirroring someone is easy in person. On the phone, you can mirror the customer's enthusiasm, urgency, and tone. You wouldn't expect to have the same conversation with one customer who is "all business" and with one who is very laid back. The tone of the conversation is different, but it should still be a conversation. We aren't robots. This is not an automated service. They want to speak WITH another human being. To answer the other question, ABSOLUTELY! If you can build rapport with someone, they are more likely to set an appointment, show for the appointment, and work with the sales team. The better your rapport, the more influence you have. Would you rather deal with someone you have no connection to or someone who feels like a friend? Most people, both at a dealership and in life, would rather go to their "connections" than to total strangers. If you build rapport with a customer, you get beyond the stranger category. Your customers are more easily swayed or influenced by someone they are connected to than Joe Smoe who works down the street. Just make sure your influence is positive. You can just as easily send them running if you build the wrong kind of rapport. When you ask questions, give them the respect of listening to their responses. Identify their concerns, wants, and needs. If they have concerns, explain the answers. Dealing with customers is building relationships. But like everything else, building rapport and relationships is a skill. It must be practiced to be perfected. Find out what works for you. Once you start working at it, building rapport will become "just the way you do it" and it will seem effortless.

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