How to show empathy in car sales

Aug 23, 2021

Car Dealership

It’s no secret that the monthly pay package of a car salesperson is reflected in the number of vehicles they have sold. This means that ultimately, if your team doesn’t sell cars, then they don’t reap a strong salary. It’s easy to see why not only competition between dealerships is booming, but the race between members of your sales team to secure those all-important deals is soaring. Plus, with more and more customers going digital and shopping via virtual assistants online, competition to make those human-to-human sales really is heating up. Ultimately, it’s never been more important for your employees to work hard, win shoppers, and secure those sales.

So, what can car salespeople do to ensure they are providing the best customer experience possible? One tactic is to show empathy. While several techniques can be learned and taught in car sales, the ability to empathize is often overlooked. In fact, it would be rare for a car salesperson to even consider empathy as a vital skill in their job role. However, a solid level of empathy is exactly what a sales team needs if they want to keep one step ahead of their competition by improving their ability to interact with shoppers and keeping them loyal. Not only will empathy allow you to manage your own emotions during a sale, but also help you to recognize the emotions of others. Showing empathy should, without a doubt, be weaved into the culture of your dealership and you should be encouraging it throughout your workforce.

Using our experience in the automotive industry, the team of experts at SnapCell is here to explain how you can show empathy in car sales and better still, how it will help drive sales in your dealership.

What is empathy?

In short, empathy is all about understanding and sharing the feelings of the customer. Your sales team should demonstrate the ability to be able to stand in the buyers’ shoes, and so understanding their thoughts, feeling, and motivations.

The main way for your car sales team to show empathy is to stop focussing on ‘selling cars’ but instead ‘helping customers buy a car’. While the goal remains the same for both you and the shopper: them to buy a vehicle from you, what makes the real difference, is the selling process. Instead of doing whatever you can to make a sale, without considering the customer, showing empathy allows you to appreciate the buyers’ needs while still aiming to secure the sale.

Change Bad Habits

When determined to make a sale, even the most empathetic person can easily allow themselves to be blindsided by dollar signs and only think about one thing: sell, sell, sell.

The first thing your sales team needs to do if they want to show more empathy is to scrap bad habits and instead, adopt new ones. This means being more open-minded and allowing yourself to understand a customers’ emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Empathy builds trust with a customer, creates long-lasting relationships and ultimately, helps to close a sale. It’s not necessarily something that can be implemented overnight but a skill that your team needs to learn and seamlessly weave into their sales pitch.

Slow Down

A key ingredient to showing empathy is slowing down. Tempting as it is to rush a customer through all the information as fast as you can, this technique is often seen as pushy, pressurizing, and overwhelming for the shopper, which means the chances of you making the sale is minimal.

Instead, slow down. Unnatural as it might seem, take a step back and allow yourself to converse with the customer, rather than overload them with information.

Take Time To Respond

What comes with slowing down is taking the time to respond – something that is especially important, if customers are clearly driven by their emotions. If you feel that a lot is riding on the response you give to a question, then don’t be afraid to pause and take time to give your answer. Instead of making a knee-jerk reaction, try and see the situation from the customer’s point of view, so they can see you are responding from a place of understanding. Doing this will hopefully diffuse any further tension or heightened emotion and even result in the making of a sale at the end.


It’s time to listen to the customer. It might seem obvious but with car salespeople often on autopilot, it’s common for them to forget such a fundamental element of conversation. Listening to a customer will make them feel valued, respected and of course, allow you to get a real understanding of their requirements and needs.

Let’s be honest, if your sales team is spending too much time talking, then how will they ever know what the customer wants? Learning to listen is likely to go against everything a salesperson has previously learned but honestly, they need to start. Allow the customer to do the majority of the talking and make sure you are really focussing on what they are saying, so you can ask questions later on.

Be Present

It’s easy to always be thinking about the end result when trying to secure a car sale but be warned, a customer will pick up on this. To show empathy, it’s essential that you demonstrate that you are there in the moment, rather than absent and thinking three steps ahead of the current conversation.

Being present might seem simple but it can take some real training, which means practicing your listening skills. If you can feel yourself getting distracted, then bring yourself back to the conversation, so you can really hear everything the customer is saying, as well as pick up on their emotions.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

A vital component of empathy is being able to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. While slowing down, taking the time to respond, listening, and being present are all key, your sales team really needs to be able to put themselves in the shoes of the customer.

This might prove difficult for your staff, however, encourage them to use their knowledge of cars and the industry, so they can apply that to how the customer is feeling and really imagine their point of view.

Ask Clarifying Questions

Now more than ever, a customer needs to feel like they connect with a brand. Shoppers are desperate for that engagement. Selling a car needs to be more than just making a sale, it needs to be a conversation with the customer. It needs to be the building of a relationship, and this means asking questions.

Simply put, you can’t gain a real understanding of how a customer is feeling and show empathy unless you ask them questions. Better still, you need to follow these initial questions up with clarifying questions. The two-way conversation with a customer will build rapport, which ultimately leads to a better outcome when making a sale.

With a clear and empathetic view of the customers’ problems, your sales team will be in the best position to deliver a solution that solves them effectively.

Let Go Of Assumptions

When it comes to empathy, you mustn’t allow your brain to make assumptions – tempting as it might be. This means, treating every customer as if they are a blank page, before building a picture of who they are and what they need, through questions and conversation. Doing this will allow you to lay the groundwork before gaining a real understanding of who the customer is.

Simply put, it will be impossible for you to show any level of empathy if you make assumptions about who the customer is and what they will require. This will result in you seeing the customer how you want to see them, rather than how they actually are.

Use Video To Create A Connection

It’s important not to lose sight of showing empathy, just because you’re not necessarily speaking to the customer face-to-face. With plenty of easy-to-use tools out there, like SnapCell, your sales team doesn’t have any excuse not to show empathy, even if it’s via a video. As well as allowing your staff to instantly communicate with customers, the SnapCell app also cements a real human connection between your car dealership and its shoppers. Video will allow you to provide empathy even though you’re not seeing a customer in person, by showing shoppers sincere expressions, as well as different tones of voice, two fundamental elements to empathizing, that you simply won’t get from sending a text-heavy email.


When it comes to the automotive industry, we all know words are some of the most powerful selling tools on this planet and if used correctly, they are more than often than not, the difference between making a sale and not. Show empathy by making shoppers feel like they aren’t alone on this car buying journey by using words like ‘we’ and ‘us’.

It’s clear that showing empathy will help build and maintain relationships with customers, while ultimately closing sales. And although it’s not necessarily an easy, overnight skill to learn, it’s a powerful technique and one that is sure to transform your sales team. SnapCell can help take your customer service up a gear thanks to its easy-to-use video app, which will allow your sales team to directly engage and connect with shoppers. Get in touch with the team of experts at SnapCell today and find out how we can benefit you by helping your staff show that extra level of empathy and ultimately drive sales at your dealership.

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