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Why Every Dealership Employee Needs to Be a Salesperson


Everyone at your dealership needs to act like great salespeople if you want to create lifetime customers.

I was reminded of this reality when I read a recent Forrester Research blog post from Danielle Place, a Forrester analyst who focuses on customer experience. As she discusses in her post, she suffered a bad experience at a dealership. Not because her salesperson was pushy. Not because the dealership lacked what she wanted. Her unhappiness stemmed from the way the dealership’s “finance guy” (in her words) treated her as she completed her purchase on the lot:

What should have been a quick and painless interaction with a dealership employee turned out to be uncomfortable and maddening. The employee was extremely pushy, attempting to use scare tactics to sell me additional warranties and insurance. I politely declined these numerous times, only to have my repeated “no, thanks” ignored and refuted with condescending comments. After begging over and over to simply sign my paperwork so I could leave, I managed to extract myself from this employee’s grip, feeling exhausted, annoyed, and disrespected to the point where I wondered why I was buying a car from these people in the first place. I was no longer excited and just wanted to leave and never come back. Not exactly a fairy tale ending to my car-buying experience.[i]

Not a fairy-tale ending, indeed – more like a nightmare. Let’s break down a few takeaways about her experience:

  • The “finance guy” – someone who should be moving the process of car ownership along – nearly sabotaged the purchase.
  • Because the finance guy was one of the last people Danielle talked with during her on-the-lot experience, he left a lasting impression. All impressions matter. First and last impressions matter especially.
  • The dealership still got something it presumably wanted: a sale. But the poor experience with the finance guy probably killed the dealership’s chances of Danielle returning for service and purchases down the road. Things could have been worse: she could have identified the name of the dealership in her post. But she did not. But plenty of damage was done.

In his book X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, analyst Brian Solis argues convincingly that experience is the new brand. He challenges businesses to make every customer touchpoint valuable.[ii] And great salespeople create memorable experiences. They get to know the customer. They don’t simply sell products. They act as customer service advocates.

How many dealers really create memorable experiences from the moment the customer arrives to when she drives off the lot with a car? How many dealers make the entire experience memorable in a good way – including sales, financing, and post-purchase service?

If you run a dealership, you owe it to yourself and your customers to:

  • Take time to give everyone in your dealership training in customer service and sales. Ensure that they understand the importance of creating happy customers, not simply selling cars.
  • Relentlessly survey your customers about their entire experience at your dealership. It’s not enough to have customers give you an overall rating. Find out how they feel about every aspect of their experience, from the way they are greeted to the type of service they receive.

DealerRater can help you improve customer satisfaction. Contact us. We’re here to help you grow your brand.



[i] Danielle Place, Forrester Research, “Congrats On Your New Car! But Before You Go . . .,” May 18, 2017.

[ii] Brian Solis, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design, Wiley & Sons, 2015.