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Research, Evaluate, Decide and Take Action

For sake of this discussion let say that:
  1. ...you work in sales at a new car dealership.
  2. ...you are engaged in a meaningful sales conversation with prospective customers who are first time visitors to your dealership, have never purchase a car before and are just beginning to research their options.
  3. ...the prospective customers have the authority, budget and an expressed need for a new vehicle.
  4. ...the prospective customers trust and respect you.
Working from those assumptions how do you as a salesperson bring about:
  1. ...customers receiving the specific information they need to feel comfortable making a purchase?
  2. ...customers making sense of and evaluating the information they have gathered, from you and other sources, relating to this potential purchase?
  3. ...customers deciding on whether they should indeed make a purchase AND deciding on which vendor/solution is their best option if they do purchase?
  4. ...customers taking action (purchasing) now?
If you need additional background information please post your requirements in question form. - by Community Mailbox
2) ...you are engaged in a meaningful sales conversation with prospective customers who are first time visitors to your dealership, have never purchase a car before and are just beginning to research their options

Item #2 is were the work lies for the salesperson. #3 and #4 represent qualifying that has already taken place.

However there is something missing in this scenario. Most experienced car salespeople will tell you that a serious buyer that visits a new car showroom has already zeroed in on the product that they want.They are now comparing for the purpose of deciding which dealer to buy from.

With those above stated qualifying items met the Intrinsic Question for the salesperson to ask the prospect is "What would you like to accomplish."

Let's go back to fundamentals to examine that question. Our job is to find out what a person is looking for and to help that person get it. So what is the person looking for? The answer is usually best value or best price. Once that question is asked and answered, the salesperson has a clear objective to work with. The first step in that process is to make clear to the customer that the price WILL be right. The second step is to enhance the desire for the car. The third step is to ask ownership questions. The fourth step is to cut the deal. That step is often accomplished with the teamwork of a manager. - by Gary A Boye
2) ...you are engaged in a meaningful sales conversation with prospective customers who are first time visitors to your dealership, have never purchase a car before and are just beginning to research their options

Item #2 is were the work lies for the salesperson.
I am not sure I know what you mean. Would you please elaborate? Thank you.

#3 and #4 represent qualifying that has already taken place.
Again, I am not sure I know what you mean. Would you please elaborate? Thank you.

However there is something missing in this scenario. Most experienced car salespeople will tell you that a serious buyer that visits a new car showroom has already zeroed in on the product that they want.They are now comparing for the purpose of deciding which dealer to buy from.
For clarification, the prospective customers in this scenario have not zeroed in on the product they want.

These prospective customers are just starting to explore what options are available to them. They want to receive, make sense of, and evaluate enough relevant information to feel comfortable deciding on (a) whether to make a purchase or not (b) which option (i.e.; vendor, solution) is the best choice for them. Of course, the decision to move forward and the act of moving forward are two separate things - change isn't always easy. - by Community Mailbox
For clarification, the prospective customers in this scenario have not zeroed in on the product they want.
Before we continue trying to address the topic, are there any OTHER things about the prospective customers that make them atypical? - by Gary A Boye
Before we continue trying to address the topic, are there any OTHER things about the prospective customers that make them atypical?
I do hope I have provided enough background information for this scenario but it is very possible that I have not. :bl - by Community Mailbox
I do hope I have provided enough background information for this scenario but it is very possible that I have not. :bl
The background information presented does not reveal a solid understanding of how people buy cars in real life. Before anyone can understand the steps in a selling engagement, some understanding of the buying process is a prerequisite.

For example, your earlier request for clarification on "#3 and #4 represent qualifying that has already taken place." is a concern.

In #3 and #4, you said:
...the prospective customers have the authority, budget and an expressed need for a new vehicle.
...the prospective customers trust and respect you.
Buying authority, budget, and need have been qualified. Therefore the conversation/engagement needs to turn to the remaining issues. The Intrinsic Question, "What would you like to accomplish?" is a segue for addressing those issues.

The scenario you present seems almost too fictional when you consider the orderliness of the prospects' preliminary buying behavior and the unusual circumstance that they are not expressing desire for a particular auto. But I'll accept that and say that the obvious next step is to question the prospects about wants and needs, and help them see the value of a particular model that addresses those wants and needs. A presentation on features and benefits would be apt to follow. But given your scenario you cannot control your prospect's willingness to purchase the car you recommend. All you can control is not losing a sale by your own hand. - by Gary A Boye
The background information presented does not reveal a solid understanding of how people buy cars in real life.
That is very possible and I have an open mind. How would that background information need to be different to reveal a solid understanding of how people buy cars in real life?

Buying authority, budget, and need have been qualified. Therefore the conversation/engagement needs to turn to the remaining issues. The Intrinsic Question, "What would you like to accomplish?" is a segue for addressing those issues.
The reason I presented that (Buying authority, budget, etc.) and the other information (trust, authority, etc.) was to allow the discussion a starting point beyond those topics. I may have failed to express that adequately.

The scenario you present seems almost too fictional when you consider the orderliness of the prospects' preliminary buying behavior and the unusual circumstance that they are not expressing desire for a particular auto.
Too fictional is not what I was aiming for. :( - by Community Mailbox
"Our job is to find out what a person is looking for and to help that person get it. So what is the person looking for? The answer is usually best value or best price. Once that question is asked and answered, the salesperson has a clear objective to work with. The first step in that process is to make clear to the customer that the price WILL be right. The second step is to enhance the desire for the car. The third step is to ask ownership questions. The fourth step is to cut the deal. That step is often accomplished with the teamwork of a manager." -- GAB

That's it! We just went through the process, the salesman did what Gary posted, we seal the deal Monday or Tuesday.

Very clear!

Happy sailing!

MitchM - by MitchM
For sake of this discussion let say that:
  1. ...you work in sales at a new car dealership.
  2. ...you are engaged in a meaningful sales conversation with prospective customers who are first time visitors to your dealership, have never purchase a car before and are just beginning to research their options.
  3. ...the prospective customers have the authority, budget and an expressed need for a new vehicle.
  4. ...the prospective customers trust and respect you.
Working from those assumptions how do you as a salesperson bring about:
  1. ...customers receiving the specific information they need to feel comfortable making a purchase?
  2. ...customers making sense of and evaluating the information they have gathered, from you and other sources, relating to this potential purchase?
  3. ...customers deciding on whether they should indeed make a purchase AND deciding on which vendor/solution is their best option if they do purchase?
  4. ...customers taking action (purchasing) now?
If you need additional background information please post your requirements in question form.
While Gary offers an excellent detailed analysis I will step back and offer a rather broad sweeping view.


"Comfortable information" is a humanistic concept just as "making sense,"and "should...make a purchase."

These words and ideas are understood within the context of the customers life. The car must conform to the life style, beleifs and values, that are currently present.

Since people tend to reveal an elevated image of themselves, asking questions about what they own now, helps define what will meet your criteria for the sale.

Just in an exchange of vacation stories, they will tell you a great deal about those values, beliefs and life style.

Obviously they were comfortable with buying what they have at home. Yet, I have been on car lots when the rep doesn't even ask what I am driving until the "trade-in" stage of the conversation. That is ridiculous.

Now, in your case they have not purchased a car before, which tells me they are after utility rather than luxury. They either take the bus or have been given a car or borrowed one. Regardless, there has been a life change---otherwise why do they want a car now? What is that life change?

This is the type of exploration that reveals deep motivation and would be interwoven throughout the engagement.

I hope this was close to what you were looking for. - by John Voris
Now, in your case they have not purchased a car before, which tells me they are after utility rather than luxury. They either take the bus or have been given a car or borrowed one. Regardless, there has been a life change---otherwise why do they want a car now? What is that life change?
For sake of discussion let's say this is a young couple who recently married and moved into an apartment. As a wedding gift they were given $5,000 for a down payment on a new car. Up until now both attended community college, lived at home and borrowed their parent's vehicles when needed. This will be the first car either has purchased and they are both excited about the possibilities and scared about making such a large and costly decision. - by Community Mailbox
For sake of discussion let's say this is a young couple who recently married and moved into an apartment. As a wedding gift they were given $5,000 for a down payment on a new car. Up until now both attended community college, lived at home and borrowed their parent's vehicles when needed. This will be the first car either has purchased and they are both excited about the possibilities and scared about making such a large and costly decision.
I would become their "Financial Knight in Shinning Armour."

Yes they are "...scared about making such a large and costly decision."

This fear must be handled. They are both looking into an unknown future and need a little life guidance. Ideally, the sales rep would be at least 10 years older. This age difference would lend to credibility to the couple.

Otherwise, bring up stories in your life or others and describe the fears and anxieties that we all feel when looking into the unknown future. In the end, over 99% of our fears never come true.

So be a father or brother, mother or sister, and take on that persona in the moment.

For me, the sale began when they stepped out of their apartment and brought their hopes, dreams, frustrations and joys upon my lot. From exploring with them these mutual foundations, the car for them will emerge.

Maybe they should put $3,000.00 down on a $10,000.00 purchase and save $2,000.00 rather than giving up all $5,000.00 and still have payments?

I would ask if who ever gave them the money has any expectations concerning the car they should have. (New in-laws) We could make the deal, then have the new wife say, "Thanks but we need to think about it," knowing the rich aunt would never agree to what they decided on.

The point is that when anyone steps upon the lot they are bringing their life concerns with them. Just think of why you bought your current car. Your decision was not just driven by the sales pitch.
(It may have been your pregnant girlfriend that you never mentioned.) - by John Voris
"Comfortable information" is a humanistic concept just as "making sense,"and "should...make a purchase."

These words and ideas are understood within the context of the customers life. The car must conform to the life style, beliefs and values, that are currently present.
John, this is well said and I agree.

It is simple conversation. You are allowing the customer to talk and you are asking leading questions. People enjoy talking about themselves. You are helping your customers feel at ease by your being genuinely interested in their story. You find out what their plans are, why they want or need this particular auto, who your competition is and their experience at that dealership, what your customers expect from you, what your customers expect from your dealership, what your customers objections are (most important). Then you simply ask: If this is the car you "want" and need and I can answer all your concerns, are you ready to go forward now?

At least this is my opinion. - by MPrince
John, this is well said and I agree.

It is simple conversation. You are allowing the customer to talk and you are asking leading questions. People enjoy talking about themselves. You are helping your customers feel at ease by your being genuinely interested in their story. You find out what their plans are, why they want or need this particular auto, who your competition is and their experience at that dealership, what your customers expect from you, what your customers expect from your dealership, what your customers objections are (most important). Then you simply ask: If this is the car you "want" and need and I can answer all your concerns, are you ready to go forward now?

At least this is my opinion.
Yes, all too often sales people are given scripts and ridged sales processes that focus only on the car and sales techniques that miss the human element.

There is a car lot where I live where the pitch on Tuesday is like the one you will get on Saturday. - by John Voris
Although the suggestions about good selling are valuable on this thread, we seem to be straying from the information that Community Mailbox has provided. For instance Martha mentioned "why they want or need this particular auto" and the original information revealed that the prospects were not zeroed into any particular model (which surprised me).

There is a lot of material to examine here if we stay with the info provided. I'm game for really opening up this discussion. John brings up the "transference" idea, and I'll volunteer that "(being) a father or brother, mother or sister.." is very risky business and can result in loss of an opportunity to make a sale. That is particularly true when a young woman is involved. I also will not validate the ten year or more age difference as being ideal.

At this point I'll reference my own experience on this topic because I do believe in "consider the source" and a double standard exempting me from providing credentials would be unfair. First, I have a brother who was involved in auto sales. In addition, two of my five closest friends had successful careers in that industry. I learned much from them about the behavior of car buyers. I designed and implemented three successful sales programs for dealers, one of which was a truck dealer. One of the programs was installed in place of a GMAC methodology on leasing that was not working. Further, I spent months coaching one-on-one a prominent trainer for auto sales on the west coast in a coach the coach scenario. Again I learned as he learned.

The startling fact was that most car buyers possess very little accurate information regarding the ins and outs of buying a car. For instance, less than one percent of customers engaged in leasing an auto knew or understood the terms and/or payment construction of leasing a car. Nowadays with the Internet more information is available but it has only had a minor impact on the average preparedness of a consumer.

So what does that mean? To me it means that you have to start at the beginning with every single prospect, never skipping a step. That's why the best of the best auto salespeople always slow down a "hot prospect." It means you assume nothing about what the prospect knows or doesn't know.

Community Mailbox threw us a curve on this thread, perhaps unintentionally. The information revealed that the prospect had no particular model in mind. Very very rare. Most car salespeople would have a hard time dealing with that outside of a trade show environment. It means you have to sell the model in classic feature/benefit mode, sell the dealership, sell yourself, sell the proposition--and cut the deal. - by Gary A Boye
However there is something missing in this scenario. Most experienced car salespeople will tell you that a serious buyer that visits a new car showroom has already zeroed in on the product that they want.They are now comparing for the purpose of deciding which dealer to buy from.
Sorry Gary...I thought this meant they "had" decided on the car. I will keep my simple sales techniques out of this one and see if I can learn from the "Pragmatist Extraordinaire"!

- by MPrince
Sorry Gary...I thought this meant they "had" decided on the car. I will keep my simple sales techniques out of this one and see if I can learn from the "Pragmatist Extraordinaire"!
Martha, we're all learning from one another here. Sometimes the learning comes from a trajectory--a simple thought out of nowhere. You understand listening and it's value. - by Gary A Boye
It appears after a few exchanges that everyone is on the same page regarding background information. Working from those assumptions how do you as a salesperson bring about:
  1. ...customers receiving the specific information they need to feel comfortable making a purchase?
  2. ...customers making sense of and evaluating the information they have gathered, from you and other sources, relating to this potential purchase?
  3. ...customers deciding on whether they should indeed make a purchase AND deciding on which vendor/solution is their best option if they do purchase?
  4. ...customers taking action (purchasing) now?
- by Community Mailbox
1. Using the trust and rapport that you have already built (as mentioned above), explicitly ask ,"What is most important to you in this buying decision?" (Is it cost, safety or reliability). In other words, you don't want to be bragging about a car's safety record if all the customer cares about is the monthly payment.

2. Again, building upon the rapport and trust already established, I would directly say, "If you don't mind me asking, what other vehicles or deals are you evaluating?". Assuming they share the info with you, offer your expert comparison to guide them toward their decision.

As a buyer myself, I like to get a professional recommendation to take into consideration. But remember to be fair when talking about your competition, point out the pro's and con's of the other alternatives to truly be consultative. (You should be aware of the pro's and con's of your competion in advance to execute on this step). Be upfront and honest and demonstrate that you really want to help them make the best decision possible.

3. This really goes back to qualifying the need. Throughout the sales process you need to be explaining and demonstrating how the car meets their compelling need and solves their pain/problem. If the customer is starting to waver, you could also talk about the consequences of not taking action/not buying.

4. This is really an extension of #3. You could specifically talk about the consequnences of not taking action right now. For example, what incentives or deals could be expiring or what other benefits are there to buying today? But do NOT make up deals just to get them to buy. People can definitely tell when car salespeople are making up the urgency and it's a turn off!!

In general, building rapport and establishing trust as a solid relationship are most important. Research has shown that doing so accounts for 80% of the buying decision. So be likeable, trustworthy, and open and honest and you are way ahead of the game - it's not the norm in car sales. How you communicate determines your success!

I hope this answer was helpful.

Good luck! - by CoachMaria
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