Tips for a Car Salesperson from a Potential Customer

Dear Car Salesperson,

For the last eleven months my husband and I have been shopping for a car.  We have been eager to buy, and yet we have not purchased any vehicle.  I believe this is due to poor salesmanship of the auto industry.  So, I now offer tips to all car salespeople.

·       Don’t forget to close the sale.  Bring the contract (with the small print) to the customer and ask them how they want to pay.  Yes, even before they have said, “Yes.”    A customer can't pick up a car and carry it through the check-out lane.  The customer has to wait until the salesperson pulls out the contract and asks for the money.  Assume their answer is "yes," and say, "so, here is the contract... how would you like to pay?" The ability to close the sale is an essential skill for a car salesperson! 

·       That being said, don’t ask questions where the customer will answer “no.”   When you ask a question where the answer is “no,” it makes it easier for the customer to say “no,” when you try to sell the car.

·       Don’t offer your opinion on personal matters.  If the couple shares that they are saving money for fertility care and adoption, don’t make suggestions for how they pursue parenthood. Or if they say they are saving up for a trip to California, don’t suggest they go to Minnesota instead.

·       Negotiate the price of the car inside the vehicle.  If the vehicle is in front of the customer they will be thinking about how much they want the vehicle.  Unlike the salesperson, the customer likely isn’t as familiar with the vehicle.  Staring at the salesperson too long the customer forgets the vehicle.

·       Don’t leave the customer sitting too long with the price sitting on a piece of paper in front of them.  The longer the customer sits in front of the paper the more they are focused on the price and the less on the actual vehicle.  The number on the paper seems to grow more expensive the longer the customer sits there.

·       If a customer seems undecided between two vehicles, offer to start negotiating on one.  Make the decision for them.  If they don’t feel comfortable negotiating on that one, then as a salesperson you will know they really aren’t interested in that vehicle and you will help them to more quickly move on to the vehicle they are interested in purchasing.

·       If a customer initially contacts you to purchase a brand new car, don’t let them walk out with a $10,000 used car.  If you did, you weren’t a good sales person.

·       Negotiate price.  No customer wants to pay the ticket price.  Don’t say you are trying to be kind by not negotiating. Let the customer feel like they got a deal because you dropped the price for them.

·       Remember, the customer can always sell their trade in online.

·       CLEAN the car.  Don’t show a car to a customer that is covered in dog hair that can be vacuumed up or spills that can be wiped up.  We drove four hours to see a car at a dealership that had not been detailed.  Needless to say, we took a glance at the car and drove away.  The sales person didn’t even have a chance.  Who wants to clean up after someone else’s mess?  Not the customer.

·       Don’t negotiate a price and say, “this is for today only.”  If the customer walks away they won’t be returning to that dealership, because supposedly the deal was lost.  They will instead drive to the dealership on the other side of town to purchase the car.

·       Respect the customer’s time.  Don’t make them sit for thirty minutes while you go get coffee and visit with your co-workers.  The reason the customer is in the store is to interact with a real person, instead of their car apps.

·       Reward customers for paying cash. Even if it is $50 off the price, because they have worked hard to be able to save enough to pay cash.  This is psychological, but will help you make the sale.

·       Don’t try to sell a vehicle you don’t know anything about.  Invite the salesperson who is more knowledgeable to take over the sale.  Hopefully, that salesperson will pay you back sometime by transferring a customer to you.  This includes being knowledgeable about the differences between years of models/makes.

·       If a couple is shopping together find out what is the most valuable qualification for a vehicle for each of them individually.  One spouse may have told the salesperson that what matters most is that it is All Wheel Drive, the other spouse could care the least about All Wheel Drive.  A salesperson needs to be able to sell to both spouses!  And perhaps the salesperson could suggest a vehicle that neither of them considered.  Help the couple to stop compromising on a vehicle and instead to find one they both like! Sell this as a benefit for purchasing a more expensive vehicle!

·       Just because the customer can research online, doesn’t disqualify the salesperson as the expert.  Don’t discredit the online research, instead prove that you as the salesperson are the more qualified expert and you can tell them more than they can find online!  And periodically refer to the online app, to show you respect the info. and their commitment to researching on their own.

·       Offer multiple options for how the customer might pay for the vehicle and explain the options, because the customer may not have a correct understanding of how the options apply.

·       If the customer leaves without purchasing, give them a call and politely and humbly ask, “I would like to improve as a salesperson, what did I miss when you were here?”

·       LISTEN! and at least act excited about the car the customer is excited about.


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