It seems like customer reviews are everywhere these days. Customers increasingly rely on reviews to make purchase decisions. Did you know that 82% of consumers say the content of a review has convinced them to make a purchase? With stakes this high, car dealerships can no longer rely on inflatable gorillas and free hot dogs to impress increasingly savvy consumers.

Reviews Generally Focus on Your Sales Team

It’s important to understand that consumer reviews for dealerships differ significantly from reviews for products, or even for other businesses. For example, suppose someone goes into a restaurant and writes a review about their experience. There are quite a few things that will go into forming their impression of the restaurant – the quality of the food, the price, the availability of specific beverages, the quality of the wait staff, the noise level in the environment, the cleanliness of the dining room and restroom, and more. When it comes to car dealerships, though, that’s not the case.

Yes, your customers will notice if your showroom is dirty, or if there is litter scattered over the lot. They will notice if your windows are grimy. Those things will not be the focus of a review, though. Your customers likely won’t focus on model availability, either, as they will have most likely already checked to make sure you have what they want on hand. This means one thing – your salespeople will be the subject of almost every customer review.

Sales Elements That Affect Reviews

Your sales team will affect customer reviews in a number of ways. According to Edmunds.com, some of the most frequently cited areas within positive and negative customer reviews for dealerships include:

  1. Pressure – High-pressure sales tactics generally result in negative reviews, while no-pressure situations yield positive reviews. Although applying the pressure might lead to a short-term increase in monthly sales it will destroy a dealer’s reputation in the long run.

  2. Trust – If your sales team comes across as trustworthy, you’re more likely to get a good review. But trustworthiness must be more than another sales tactic. Transparency throughout the customer journey will lead to more word of mouth business and more favorable reviews.

  3. Listening – Customers value the ability of salespeople to actively listen to their needs, rather than trying to put them in a vehicle that doesn’t suit those needs. In the end, you want customers to love their purchase. It’s tough to love a car in the long run if you’ve been talked into it.

  4. Games – Let’s face it, car dealerships get a bad rap for a reason. If your salespeople try to play games with your customers they’re going to rate you badly. Avoid bait and switch sales promotions or attempting to jack up the monthly payments by padding the interest rate charged on an in-house loan. Consumers will see right through this.

  5. Surprises – Dealership customers routinely state that last-minute price-related surprises leave a bad taste in their mouths. Make sure that your salespeople don’t pull these stunts. The price negotiated should be the price paid.

Ultimately, it’s all about creating a positive overall experience. The sales process should be streamlined, simple, and as uncomplicated as possible. It should leave your customers with a positive image of not just your dealership, but of the individual salesperson who helped them purchase their new car. Your salespeople have a tremendous impact on the reviews you are likely to get from customers shopping at your dealership. It is absolutely essential that you build a sales team that is trustworthy, capable of listening to customers’ needs and then matching them with the right vehicle for those needs and budget. Don’t play games or use price-related surprises with customers, and avoid high-pressure sales tactics.