Transactional Focused or Relationship Driven

Recently a friend of mine posted the following question on LinkedIn as a poll:

Is #autosales a transaction focused business or a relationship business? Is selling cars or also earning recurring customers the mission?

The two possible responses were:

  1. Transactional focused
  2. Relationship driven

This poll was completely thought-provoking and my mind immediately started to race. I have so many thoughts on this subject, and they were all very top of mind because I had just finished creating my Virtual Training Course – Delivering A Vehicle To Today’s Customer. And during this course, I discuss the importance of a winning last impression as it is a key to building a lasting relationship with your customer.

With a million thoughts flying around inside of my head and a strong desire to chime in on this thought-provoking poll, I quickly posted the following comment:

The auto industry as a whole focuses primarily on the transaction; however, they should focus on the relationship.

Even though my comment is 1000% accurate, I now believe I posted it too quickly because I have so much more to say on the topic. So here I am, finishing the post I started on LinkedIn.

Is #autosales a transaction focused business or a relationship business? Is selling cars or also earning recurring customers the mission?

This is a trick question because what the auto industry would say and what their actions prove are two completely different things. Let me explain. Ask any Salesperson, Sales Manager, General Sales Manager, and General Manager if building a long-lasting relationship with their customers is essential; everyone will say “yes.” However, if you follow that question up with what they are doing to ensure they have built those essential relationships, you will not get as resounding of an answer. You are much more likely to hear a lot of hesitation and excuses. I would challenge every person in the dealership to answer the following questions:

  • Does your dealership have a “take it or leave it” attitude regarding pricing, inventory, and pack stickers in this current supply and demand climate? Do you offer any type of empathy? Do you build any value to justify your ask?
  • What is your sold follow-up plan? How often do you contact these customers? Do you provide them with value when you do contact them? Is there any personalization to the follow-up, or is it just some automated templates that go out, announcing whatever specials you have going on?
  • Do you introduce every customer who purchases from you to your Service Department? Do you set every customer’s first service appointment? Do you follow up to ensure they show up to that appointment? Do you remind them about future upcoming services beyond automation?
  • Do you do anything above and beyond what the customer expects? What is your ‘WOW’ factor? What do you do that others are not willing to do?

Now, this is by no means a definitive list of what a Salesperson, Sales Manager, General Sales Manager, or General Manager can do to help build a relationship with their customers. However, this list is an excellent place to start.

This response would have been much more constructive and just as thought-provoking as the question it was answering. I know there will be people out there that say they are doing these things, and to them, I say, “congratulations.” However, I know that the people who are actually doing the things needed to truly build relationships with their customers are too few and far between. And frankly, I believe this lack of building these relationships is work, and it takes commitment, persistence, and time before someone will see results from these efforts. Unfortunately, most give up just before their hard work is about to pay off. Please let me know how you feel about this very interesting topic. Agree or disagree, I would love to hear your opinion. And if you would like some help learning how you can better build relationships with your customers, please reach out to me at:, and it will be my pleasure to help you get started.



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