You Know, It’s Just A Matter of Trust…

by Ryan Leslie, Director of Dealer Reputation Strategy, DealerRater

If you are between the ages of 30 and 95 you’ll be humming the headline to this article by the time you finish reading it. In honor of one artist’s upcoming benefit concert at Madison Square Garden to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy on 12.12.12, I’ll be borrowing song titles as I write this article. This is no doubt unconventional, but “I Go to Extremes” to make an article educational and entertaining. Now it’s time to tackle a topic that I’ve wanted to write about “For the Longest Time.”

On Dec. 3rd GALLUP released their latest poll data ranking 22 professions for perceived honesty and ethical standards. Unfortunately, according to this poll, consumer perception of automotive sales personnel is rather bleak, ranking lower than lawyers, stockbrokers and even Members of Congress. Here is a brief, but telling snippet from the full report:

“Car salespeople have been at the bottom of the list every year except 2011, when they tied members of Congress with a 7% honesty rating. Car salespeople’s perceived honesty has never climbed out of the single-digit range in the history of the list.”

Here are some interesting stats to consider:

  • According to GALLUP’s Nov 26-29th data, only 8% of respondents gave car salespeople a high to very high rating for honesty and ethical standards.
  • According to Nielsen, consumers show more confidence in Peer Reviews than every other research point other than a referral from a family member.
  • According to’s July 2012 Trust Factor Study, 84% of respondents reported they will not engage with a brand until trust has been established.
  • At the David Kain Clients and Friends Event in early November, Dealix reported that 51% of respondents research a dealer’s reputation prior to submitting a lead.
  • Another statistic from the Kain event that popped up in several presentations, Dealership visits pre-purchase have sunk to 1.8. Consumers go to only 2 dealers before they buy.

Let’s tie this together:

  • The Consumer is researching your reputation BEFORE they send you a lead.
  • The Consumer trusts peer reviews more than anything else you can provide them.
  • The Consumer will only visit 2 dealers before they buy.
  • It is imperative that you VERIFY that you are trustworthy in your initial lead response with credible 3rd party reviews.

Conclusion: People buy from those that they like and trust, but few automotive sales professionals are leveraging their review content to establish a trust bridge early in the sales cycle when it matters most. Let me give you some “Honesty,” if you are waiting for your unsold prospects to stumble upon your reviews on Google, you are losing customers to a sales professional that is leveraging a virtual “why buy” book. The initial lead response must include a verification of your positive reputation. Reinforce the consumer’s decision to send you the lead by reminding them why they sent it to you in the first place. You are NOT the typical salesperson referenced in this GALLUP Poll.

A proper lead response needs to contain the information that is most important to the consumer. Answer their specific questions, give them appropriate options that are close in price or style to the vehicle they inquired on, and most importantly, invite them to read what other people have said about doing business with you through unbiased 3rd party reviews. Some third-party review sites like DealerRater offer employee-specific review pages where dealer sales staff can truly set themselves apart from other sales professionals that a consumer may be considering.

For more information and firsthand success with this critical concept, tune in on the 14th for an interview with multiple Dealer of the Year winning group from OH, the Jeff Wyler automotive group.

Time to guess the artist, and hopefully you “Get it Right the First Time.”

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Ryan Leslie can be contacted at 800-266-9455 or at




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