We all know that almost anybody can sell cars. We see it all the time with new hires. But selling a few cars every month is not enough to earn a nice living. We need to sell lots of cars every month if we want to earn a six-figure income. That’s where reading customers come into play.
Reading customers will greatly increase your level of success as a car salesperson. Some people read their customers naturally and others have to work at this skill. The good news is that you can develop and sharpen this skill. You can learn how to look for and listen for the cues to help you sell more cars. Whether you are doing a meet and greet or trying to close the sale you will benefit from having the ability to read customers.
If customers walked through the door and always told you the truth selling cars would be much easier. However, we all know that’s not going to happen anytime soon. So that’s why we have to get better at reading customers. I personally credit reading customers to my success and so do most other successful car salespeople.
Here are some car sales tips and suggestions for reading customers. Remember it won’t happen overnight. Like any skill, it needs to be developed and practiced to achieve success.
Car Sales Skills for Reading Customers
Listening to Customers
Lots of car salespeople have trouble listening. They start listening and then they start thinking about what to show them or what to do next. I have seen it, I have done it and it happens every single day. They start thinking about that demo that needs to go or an aged unit that has a spiff. They stopped listening and only got part of what the customer said. You must stop doing this and really listen to the customer. Reading customers requires listening to everything they are saying. Acknowledge what they are saying, repeat the key points and nod in agreement as they talk. There is a recent post on listening that details the finer points and tips for improving this critical car sales skill.
Body Language for Reading Customers
The great thing about body language is that people don’t know that they are giving you signs to help you sell them a car. These unconscious responses, body movements, and signals are the building blocks of reading customers. My favorite thing about body language is that they could be saying one thing with their words and contradicting themselves with their face and body. Here are some of the most common cues you can use to sell more cars.
Customer Facial Expressions
The face is the place where many very small but meaningful cues appear which makes reading customers a valuable tool. When a person has their lips pressed together tightly while you are talking to them they are on guard. The same holds true when the corners of their mouth are turned down a little. I am not talking about frowning, but instead just the corners of their mouth. They may have a straight mouth, but the corners are a very good indicator. When the corners of their mouth are slightly turned up you are on the right track. When those corners go down you need to change directions or back off.
Eye Movement and Contact of Customers
Where is your customer? looking. Are they looking all over the showroom when you are talking to them? If so you don’t have their attention or their interest. When you greet a customer and all they do is focus on everything, but you they aren’t interested or paying attention to you. Maybe they want to look around a bit. See if you can direct them to a certain model and back off. I don’t mean that you should let them go, just hang back, but be close enough when they have questions.
The same holds true when you are doing a walk around. If they aren’t looking at you or the area of the car that you are talking about you are losing them. Change gears, and cover an area that interests them. If what you are saying interests them, they will be looking at you when you speak. You need to keep their attention. Whether it’s the features of the vehicle or the monthly payments you need their attention and eye contact if you are going close the sale. Keep changing it up as needed by responding to their eye contact and attention.
Customers Arms and Hands
A very common body language cue for reading customers is crossed arms. In most cases when someone crosses their arms it means they are uncomfortable. This customer is probably very shy or skeptical and maybe both. You need to handle them gently and let them know you are only here to help them. Ask them questions, but not probing questions about credit or budget. Reading customers is about constantly adjusting your actions based on their unconscious actions, attention, and reactions.
Let them talk and follow their lead until those arms come down. You need to get them to let down their guard or you might as well be talking to the car. Crossed arms and their body turned away from you means they see you as a possible threat. They are unconsciously protecting themselves until they no longer feel threatened. So before you do any selling you need to earn their trust so they let down their guard. Reading customers tells you when you should be building rapport and consulting rather than selling.
On the other hand, when a customer is open-armed and their hands are open and facing you it’s time to go to work. That means they are ready and very often open to suggestion. But continue to watch for signs of discomfort or the need to protect themselves. When that happens you know that you hit a nerve or tender subject. That’s when you need to back off or switch gears.
Throughout the sales process, you should be watching your customer for signs and cues that will let you know in you are on the right track. Reading customers will allow you to know when you need to consult, educate or sell. Even when it comes down to presenting numbers and working payments you can determine your next move. Watch, listen and adjust. Sometimes you need to mirror their behavior to earn their trust. When you mirror the behavior of your customer you are similar to them. Therefore you are much more pleasant and likable because you are like them. This alone can make the difference between a delivery and a commission or a be-back.
Later, Fresh Up on the Lot