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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