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Sales Questions. More Ideas?

Automotive sales.

I have made a questionnaire to use with fresh customers to help me understand what they are looking for and how I should approach helping them. Part of the reason I am doing this is because it will help them to think through what they really want. I figure it will take about five minutes to go through and will remove some of my questioning from the presentation, and instead just ask confirming questions ex: a tie down question: "So this is enough room to hold your widgets?"

It should also make more sure my customers time is being used effeciently as well.

I would like to know if anyone has some good questions that I could add to help which would break down some barriers to buying or would give some good information that I might be able to use. I have gathered a bunch of ideas from this site already for my questions.

So far I have:
-how much time do you have today?
-what would you like to accomplish?
-Other than you, who are the main drivers? --means any other decision makers missing?
-(considering a pre-commitment question here) - If we find a car today that meets your preferences will you be in a position to move ahead and secure a vehicle immediately?
-Driving - City? Highway? Offroad?
-Options - means what options do you have on your current
-Trade - means do you want to trade it?
-$ - means how much do you want for it?
-Lien - means do you own it?
-How long do you plan to own this next vehicle?
-What kind of vehicle are you leaning toward? (car)(truck)(suv)(van)
-Model - means what vehicle do you prefer
-Package - means if they already know what package they want
- Why that one?
-Seating - means how many people do you need to fit
- Cargo Room/Towing - any special cargo needs or need to tow?
-What two things are most important to you ina vehicle - then the options are: Comfort, Fuel Economy, Performance, Value, Safety, Reliability, Cargo Space, Style
-What equipment were you hoping for? - AC, PW, PL, VSC, etc..
- Color - Lighter or darker?
- If this line represents your car ownership timeline, where are you on it now? -then I have a line so they can make a tick on where they are on it. And how close they are to getting a new vehicle.
-Why are you looking for a new vehicle?
-What monthly payments did you budget for?
-From what you know, and have heard, of _____, how would you rate their reputation? --line they can show where they are at, so I know how they feel emotionally about the brand.


----After this is done, I plan to hand it back to them, say "Just look it over and let me know if that looks right to you." Pause. "What else would you like to what you've already told me?"

Please comment if you see potential problems or have some other ideas that could be used in conjunction with this. - by FocusedEdge
Automotive sales.

I have made a questionnaire to use with fresh customers to help me understand what they are looking for and how I should approach helping them. Part of the reason I am doing this is because it will help them to think through what they really want. I figure it will take about five minutes to go through and will remove some of my questioning from the presentation, and instead just ask confirming questions ex: a tie down question: "So this is enough room to hold your widgets?"

It should also make more sure my customers time is being used effeciently as well.

I would like to know if anyone has some good questions that I could add to help which would break down some barriers to buying or would give some good information that I might be able to use. I have gathered a bunch of ideas from this site already for my questions.

So far I have:
-how much time do you have today?
-what would you like to accomplish?
-Other than you, who are the main drivers? --means any other decision makers missing?
-(considering a pre-commitment question here) - If we find a car today that meets your preferences will you be in a position to move ahead and secure a vehicle immediately?
-Driving - City? Highway? Offroad?
-Options - means what options do you have on your current
-Trade - means do you want to trade it?
-$ - means how much do you want for it?
-Lien - means do you own it?
-How long do you plan to own this next vehicle?
-What kind of vehicle are you leaning toward? (car)(truck)(suv)(van)
-Model - means what vehicle do you prefer
-Package - means if they already know what package they want
- Why that one?
-Seating - means how many people do you need to fit
- Cargo Room/Towing - any special cargo needs or need to tow?
-What two things are most important to you ina vehicle - then the options are: Comfort, Fuel Economy, Performance, Value, Safety, Reliability, Cargo Space, Style
-What equipment were you hoping for? - AC, PW, PL, VSC, etc..
- Color - Lighter or darker?
- If this line represents your car ownership timeline, where are you on it now? -then I have a line so they can make a tick on where they are on it. And how close they are to getting a new vehicle.
-Why are you looking for a new vehicle?
-What monthly payments did you budget for?
-From what you know, and have heard, of _____, how would you rate their reputation? --line they can show where they are at, so I know how they feel emotionally about the brand.


----After this is done, I plan to hand it back to them, say "Just look it over and let me know if that looks right to you." Pause. "What else would you like to what you've already told me?"

Please comment if you see potential problems or have some other ideas that could be used in conjunction with this.
F.E., I applaud you for your approach. You are showing that you want to understand your customer before you present a product to them, and your approach is an excellent one. Here are some thoughts:

1. At the very earliest stage of the interaction, I think it's important to now bury the prospect in questions. I believe your list is a bit too long. As you talk further and conversation gets going, you'll discover the answers to some of your questions. You'll have to watch prospects carefully to make sure they're with you. If they start to get restless, you need to change something or you'll lose them.

2. I really like some of your questions. Additional questions I like:

- "So why are you looking for a car today instead of last year or next year?"
- "Please rate these in order of importance: Reliability, Low price, Design (or substitute other factors for the three, but this question will often get a good discussion going)."
- "Instead of asking about "budget" I like to teach people to ask about "comfort level." The budget question will often get this reponse: "Oh gosh, we haven't really discussed a budget." But if you ask for a range that the prospect would feel comfortable in, you'll pick up a few responses that you wouldn't have gotten with the budget question."
- "What else should I be asking you that I haven't asked?" This is a killer sales question and often leads to some revelation that's on the prospect's mind.

You're on the right track! Keep refining your list with experience and you'll eventually get it to a nice 10 or 12 questions that most prospects will enjoy answering.

And don't forget to be likable, engaging, and perceptive...you don't want the prospect to feel that they are being interrogated. - by Skip Anderson
Thanks for the great input. I especially like those additional questions. I certainly do understand what you mean when you say it shouldn't feel like an interrogation.

Interestingly enough, the reason why I was putting together this questionnaire was to try to remove that feeling of interrogation/restlessness that can occur with a barrage of questions, but still be able to find all the information out quickly. I should clarify how I intend to use it and how I intend to introduce it as well.

When introducing myself and what I can do, I would say something to the effect of: "One of the things that I will do for you today is to make sure your time here is efficient and that all your needs are covered. I will also be able to answer all of your questions and make everything here simple for you."

And then pull out the organized sheet(no longer than one page, with check boxes, easy on the eyes), and say, "This is something we will go over first. It is a tool designed to save you time, and paint a picture of what you are looking for. (show them and point to the sections) It covers where you are now with your current vehicle, what your needs are for your next vehicle, and it will also bring up a few important considerations that you may not have thought of yet."

In the way I am envisioning it, I would really set it up as a tool for the customer, and not just try to hurry through it.

That being said, I completely see what you are saying too. Do you think that it might work with an introduction like this or what is your opinion?

I should note that the dealership I work at gets reasonably high traffic, so it is my thinking that I should be certain I am working with a qualified customer.

Or perhaps I should use this approach and still try to narrow it down to around a dozen questions?

Thanks for the great advice, I will be using your ideas. - by FocusedEdge
I think you should try it. You believe in it, so give it a shot. As I said, I'm a big believe in good questions, so you're on the right track for sure.

I really like your thinking, and it's similar to what I had tried in the past, however, I've learned that sometimes I have taken things just a bit too far in this regard, and I ended up scaling back to keep prospects engaged.

My thought it is that you make it very conversational...eventually, you don't even use the sheet, because you have all your base questions memorized. I think the conversation is more valuable than handing a prospect a form to fill out. You want that personal rapport with your prospect that only human-to-human contact can generate.

Having said that, go ahead and try it for a week / month / whatever and see what happens. You can always make changes in your approach if you need to, or, if things are working well, keep doing what's working.

Best of luck with it and let us know how it works.

Others: please join in the discussion and share your thoughts with Focused Edge. - by Skip Anderson
Knowing what questions you want to ask is smart. You know what you could do is have a worksheet with those questions on them and instead of asking them one after the other you could use the questions to guide the conversation and flesh out the worksheet as the conversation evolves. - by Thomas
Initial results:

I was able to try out the question sheet with a couple people today. With the first couple that I tried it out with today, they actually became more engaged the farther down I got on my list of questions. One nice effect it had for me was to slow everything down and let us relax and chat a bit more. I think I tend to get ahead of myself, so for me, it helped me to slow everything down and get all the information I needed.

The way I used it: introduced what it was, saying that it was for their benefit. And as you mentioned, Thomas, I used it as a framework for questions to ask them. Many of the questions I didn't directly ask, but the sheet did help me to flesh out the answers. It also helped to make sure I covered everything. I wrote down all their answers, and also photocopied the sheet before they left and gave a copy to them.

I was recently reading someone's post here about the importance of slowing down the automotive customer. The person was saying that it is important to slow down and slow the customer down to improve your closing ratio. This question sheet helped me to slow down, to take control and to develop more rapport.

Skip Anderson, I agree the conversation has to be the most important thing as well. I will have to try it out for a longer period of time so I can see if it gives consistent results. I used your question of "What else should I be asking you that I haven't asked?" and they responded well to it.


--The money question--
Today I asked my sales manager to look at the sheet and see if he had any more questions I might add and his opinion was that I generally shouldn't ask what someone's budget or comfort level is. His reasoning was that it is not the customer who sets the price, so that impression should not be given. His opinion was that you should present the vehicle based on what the customer's needs are, then if they are happy with it, you should then just give the price. If they can't afford it, you go to a different model, instead of trying to fit within their budget for that model. Also, then you don't have to try to fit within any budget that they have given.

Ex:
Scenario 1: Asking where they want to be.
SalesPerson: What are you comfortable with for a payment?
Customer: I want to pay no more than 400.
-later.. payment for the vehicle they want is 450.
Customer: I don't know, I told you no more than 400.
-Customer feels justified in asking that price because they told you it earlier. Something to do with setting precedent perhaps?
-So then suddenly I am working towards his price instead of working towards my price of 450.

Scenario 2: not asking where they want to be and payment is 450.
Customer: Well, I was actually hoping to be closer to 400.
Salesperson: This isn't a 400 dollar a month vehicle.
-(then repeat summary of value story) and close again... then if no again, ask if they can do a down payment, then close, if no still, then suggest a different package, etc...


I have never heard this before, but I can see his point. I was thinking of the question as a qualifying question, but perhaps it also puts up blocks in the customers mind. Any thoughts? - by FocusedEdge
Money is going to be on the table at some point, so my preference is to get it on the table up front where it can be analyzed, discussed, etc. It doesn't mean you have to meet their "comfort level" (it's often low anyway), just like if they tell you they want a coupe and they end up buying an SUV in the end. But when you show them a car that's more, you can tell them it will probably result in a higher payment. Then ask, "is this worth considering at a higher payment than you mentioned initially?" If they say "yes", they've just increased their comfort level. If they say "no", then you know you probably really need to stay in that initial comfort level. - by Skip Anderson
That makes sense. So to put that in action, when someone says they would like the set of x options, I immediately need to follow up with: "these options raise the payments of the vehicle a bit. Is this worth considering at a higher payment than you had mentioned initially?" I like that because it is an easy way to bump their expectations if they are way off at the beginning too.

After using the questions a bit, I have decided to cut the ownership timeline question and the reputation question.

A new one I am trying at the very end is:

"From what we know, the _____ is the right vehicle to move ahead with?" (meaning to look at and test drive... to get some commitment and hopefully some sales momentum.) - by FocusedEdge
That makes sense. So to put that in action, when someone says they would like the set of x options, I immediately need to follow up with: "these options raise the payments of the vehicle a bit. Is this worth considering at a higher payment than you had mentioned initially?" I like that because it is an easy way to bump their expectations if they are way off at the beginning too.
Yes, F.E., that's the right idea. It's a great strategy because it reminds people that all those little desirable features have a cost, and only they can determine if its worth the cost, but bringing it up throughout the sales interaction rather than blowing them away at the end with a price that's substantially higher than their "comfort level" price is beneficial.

Good job! - by Skip Anderson
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