We’ve long known that consumers rely on reviews to help narrow down their purchases based on the product they’re looking to buy, the place from which they want to buy it, and the price they feel comfortable paying.  But a fourth ‘P’ is coming into play.

The Person You Buy From Is Influential

Sales staff interaction at the point of purchase can make or break a shopping experience.  Today’s shoppers are increasingly looking for more information on ‘who to buy from’ outside of just ‘where to buy.’  Reviews of employees are becoming more crucial to the sales process of big life purchases like cars and homes than they were in the past.¹

This is specifically taking shape in the shopping behaviors of consumers across the automotive industry. Currently, one in five car shoppers read reviews specifically to find salespeople.¹  Looking only at millennial shoppers, we see one in three are actively seeking out information on dealership sales staff during their online researching process.²  More importantly, we found that 97% of consumers say that they would prefer connecting directly with a salesperson before arriving on a dealership’s lot.²  That’s powerful!

Face-to-Face Interaction Helps Make the Sale

It’s not just in automotive. In real estate, consumers also lean heavily on utilizing reviews to connect with an individual person. According to Zillow, 62% of online home buyers said if a real estate agent has excellent reviews, they are more likely to contact that agent over others with none or fewer reviews.³

Let’s consider the experience of Millennials for a second.  Millennials are coming of age when information is at their fingertips whenever and wherever they wish to access it.  They’ve grown up and into an age where ‘peer proof’ of others’ experiences isn’t just a norm, it’s expected.

If they’re satisfied, over half (55%) refer others to their realtor and over one in four leave an online review.³

Zillow is responding to this changing market trend and empowering realtors to be proactive with PremierAgent®, which provides them with tools to help them build their reputation and showcase their successful sales history to aid them in attract more clients and – ultimately – buyers.  DealerRater is doing the same for automotive with their “Connections” program allowing the dealership sales and service staff to leverage their personal reputations to connect directly with consumers.

In an era when most of a company’s advertising revenue investment still goes towards their brand, at the end of the day the employee’s brand may be what closes the deal. Personal reviews will continue shifting to center stage as both shoppers and companies realize that the employee ultimately can make or break that experience.

Learn more about how you can be soliciting reviews at your store with the new DealerRater Guide to Online Reviews.


(1) Car Shoppers are Judging You, Cars.com White Paper, February 2017.
(2) Survey of 10,000 recent car shoppers on DealerRater.com, March 2016.
(3) Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 2016