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Networking is an essential ingredient for success in any business today. But it is particularly important to a car salesman because the auto industry is so competitive and offers customers so many local options in addition to buying from you. An effective networking strategy is based on a “give as good as you get” attitude and a consistent effort over time. Because car salesmen are not generally perceived as the most trustworthy people on the planet, personal credibility will be a key part of your effort.
Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, notes Business Know-How. To achieve success, you must build trust and lasting relationships. Be in the game for the long run, not the short haul.
Ask every new customer for referrals. This is the single best networking strategy in any business and it is particularly effective in the car business. Every time you deliver a vehicle to a happy new owner, ask him or her to provide names and contact information for three to five friends, relatives or coworkers who might be interested in buying a car. Pursued properly, this activity becomes a perpetual source of new leads as every new customer, in turn, generates more.
Network with other car salesmen. The customer who buys a Lexus or a Mercedes-Benz is not the same as the one who buys a Toyota or a Chevrolet. Build relationships with other salesmen at non-competing brands and trade referrals of prospects who are in the market for a car that you or they don't sell.
Get involved in local business organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary. Volunteer to serve on committees or specific events such as a fund drive, and make yourself as visible as you can. Identify individuals who are most connected to the local community and build relationships with them. Then ask them to become a steady supplier of referrals.
Support your local school system. Get involved with sports teams or other extracurricular activities. Such focus offers a unique networking resource because it is a form of community service that demonstrates you are more than just a “salesman.” In addition, the school system offers access to teachers, parents and students – all of them potential customers for a new or used car.
Identify and pursue local fleet managers. Many businesses purchase or lease multiple vehicles as part of a fleet agreement. Do your homework and compile a list of every fleet manager within a 50-mile radius. Then create a personalized marketing campaign designed to get you in front of each of them. Once you have them as a customer, ask them for referrals to other fleet managers who are getting ready to make a new deal.
Develop a reputation as a powerful resource for others, advises Business Know-How. Adhere to the principle that you will get what you want by helping other people get what they want. That is the essence of effective, long-term networking. If it’s a one-way street with you expecting benefits without delivering much in return, it won’t last long.
John Buchanan has been a professional journalist since 1970. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. He is also the former president and creative director of advertising and marketing agencies in Los Angeles and Miami and a business consultant. Buchanan studied journalism and creative writing at New School University and the University of California, Los Angeles. He resides in Cocoa Beach.