Different car dealerships have different philosophies when it comes to customer test drives. Some dealers give the customer they keys and send them on their way, although most car dealerships today have the car salesman go on the car selling test drive with the customer. I am not a fan of letting the customer go on their own because this is a one of the most important parts of the car sales steps and a great opportunity to sell the vehicle while gauging the customers level of interest.
Ok, its time for the test drive, but wait a minute does your dealership require the car salesman to drive first or is it acceptable for the customer to drive off the lot? Good question because I have seen some dealerships that the salesperson is required to drive first in order to demonstrate some of the features of the vehicle. I have done it both ways and I don’t really have a problem with either way. Lets proceed with the salesman driving first and if your dealership doesn’t require you to do so you can skip that part of the car selling test drive.
The Car Sales Test Drive Where the Feel of the Wheel Seals the Deal
All right Mr. or Miss customer lets take it for a test drive, why don’t you get in the passenger side and let me show you a few things first. Our insurance requires us to drive the customer off the lot so we will switch down the street so you can fully experience all the features of the vehicle. Now that you are both seated in the vehicle and you in the driver’s seat take a few minutes to demonstrate some the features that may be different in this new model or to explain anything they might be unfamiliar with when it comes to starting such as “Push Button Start” or “Smart Key”. You don’t need cover everything because you will do that when they are in the drivers seat so they can experience it for themselves.
Now go a head and pull off the lot while you demonstrate or explain the ride, acceleration and passenger comfort or anything that would tie into some of the features or benefits you covered during your walk-around. Drive down the street or anywhere you can pull off that is isolated and safe where you can change places. When you change places during the test drive have your customer come around then wait for them to get into the seat and show them all the different ways they can adjust the seat, steering wheel, outside rearview mirrors and even pedal height adjustment if vehicle is equipped with any of these features. Help them get comfortable no matter what it takes because they won’t fall in love with the car if they’re not comfortable.
Now that your customer is comfortably seated in the drivers seat and ready for their car sales test drive you should point out areas of interest and explain any special features, options plus standard features like climate control, sound system or any thing else that is within reach. You don’t want your customer messing with these things while they are driving the car. Distractions of any kind will divert their attention from the feel of the wheel and we all know that’s what seals the deal.
Lets hit the road, have the customer pull away once they are ready and give them directions as to which way you want them to go. Some dealerships had a pre-determined route that they use for test drives. If your dealership doesn’t have a specific route you should have one yourself. You want the customer to experience more than a quick ride around the block. So try to map out a route that will allow them to experience a well round test drive that includes a combination of city and highway driving or at least a strip of road that will allow 45 to 50 miles per hour.
There will be times when your customer wants to test drive a bit longer and that’s fine, but you should have a route picked out that you are familiar with so you don’t end up on a road full of potholes or encounter extremely rough railroad tracks. You don’t want them to drive on any road that may reflect badly on the test vehicle. When the time is right and it’s not during the quiet time you can you should be using statements/questions like; “nice ride isn’t it”, “great acceleration, right”, “sure is a quiet interior, isn’t it” and “don’t you just love that new car smell” all of these statements are positive and they are reinforcing their choice of vehicle. All of these statements/questions are creating more Yeses that can be recalled by the customer during negotiations and closing. If not you can remind them of their positive responses during the car selling test drive while closing and negotiating.
Car Sales Test Driving Is About Getting In Their Head
You want them to be able to experience highway speeds in order to demonstrate acceleration, a smooth ride and very little road noise. If possible it would also be nice to have a set of railroad tracks to cross (smooth ones of course) so you can comment on the smooth ride and then get them to say YES or at least agree with you when you bring it up during the sales test drive. If your customer consists of a couple then you need to make sure the other person drives too. Even if they say they don’t need to test drive tell them that they should without being pushy. You can either travel same route again or simply extend the route as needed.
One of the biggest mistakes car salespeople make during the car sales test drive is that they keep talking and talking and talking. Shut up and let them imagine owning and driving the car. The customer’s ability to imagine ownership during the test drive is critical to your success.
You want the customer to have some quiet time during their time behind the wheel so they can imagine owning the car, but if you are yapping the whole time it interferes with their ability to use their imagination. At least a third (half is better) of their time spent driving should be in complete silence and without the radio playing. Let them experience the sound system, but make sure they drive with the radio off for a while. Other than providing directions all of your selling and demonstrating should be done in the first half of the selling test drive. Then tell them that you are going to be quiet and let them experience everything thing that the (make and model of car) has to offer. Say to your customer “pretend I’m not here and imagine driving the car on vacation, to work or even driving it over to a friends house to show them your new car”. Getting your customer to use their imagination is an important car sales skill.
Your suggestions are designed to help them get their imagination going. You want them to take ownership in their mind. This is a form of closing the sale, but it’s not being a pushy car salesman and asking them to buy, you merely want them to sell themselves at this point. It’s hard to use your imagination when there are distractions all around you so it should be quiet allowing them to picture themselves owning this car. A car sales tip: You actually want your customer to imagine ownership during every one of the car sales steps, but the best place to make it happen is during the car selling test drive.
Throughout the entire test drive with your customer and their spouse (if they are a couple) you need to pay very close attention to their actions, reactions, responses both verbal and non-verbal. Any kind of customer response and especially interactions between the two of them (if they are a couple). These responses may include comments to each other and facial expressions. These comments and cues can tip you off to whether they are on the same page or if this is even the right car and ultimately allow you to sell more cars.
The test drive is your opportunity to help them fall in love with the thought of having a new car. If you don’t have the right car they won’t fall in love and the chance of you selling them a car is practically non-existent and so is your commission. Every step is important, but the hands on experience of test-driving engages all of the emotions of your buyer so make it count. At the end of your car selling test drive they will pull in the lot and park where you instruct them to park. Before you get out of the vehicle it’s time for the post-test drive car sales step.
Next Step #5 – The Post Test Drive
Back to The Car Sales Steps