Immediately after your meet and greet it’s time for you to discover and determine needs. Determining the needs of your customer is figuring out what you car buyer is looking for such as a car, truck or SUV and then whatever options that may be important to them. In most cases, all you have to do is listen to them carefully because they already know what model they want to learn more about and test drive.

Determine Needs of the Car BuyerMost dealerships have adopted a script or word track they want their sales staff to use to determine needs to avoid making waves and go with their program, but listen very closely to what the customer has to say. Most scripts use questions that you ask the customer to determine their needs such as what are they driving now or what kind of vehicle they are replacing. These questions are fine, but stick to the questions and avoid the trade-in, credit, finance, price and current payment questions until later. If the customer comes back to you with questions about price, financing, and trades you should answer them, but be careful how you answer.

Remember 80% of car buyers buy something different.

Ask Questions to Determine Needs

If their questions are whether or not you take trades answer them, but if they ask about the price for a certain model tell them that they start at $xxxxx (the base price of a stock model) and move on. If they ask about finance specials such as 0% just answer them by saying “with your good credit we do have 0% financing (or whatever the special might be)”. Don’t give them details such as telling them that it is for 36 months or with approved credit and $xxxx dollars down. By giving the answer earlier that states “with your good credit” will often bring many credit issues out of the closet without you having to ask.

Key Point:  Avoid drilling down too deep when you are determining the needs of your car buyer. If you narrow their wants and need too narrow you may find out that you won’t have what they want in stock and we want to sell it now, not tomorrow or next week…

Always assume that your customer has excellent credit until it comes down to the right time and when you need to know which is after the test drive and they are sitting at your desk unless they bring it up first. During this car sales step, you only want to determine needs not try and close the sale. If they ask for specific monthly payments once again you use the phrase “with your good credit” when appropriate. Don’t try to bump them before they have had a chance to test drive and fall in love unless of course, they want $300 monthly car payments on a new luxury SUV with no money down.

Of course, we need to learn all these things, but asking those types of questions too early will cause your customer to raise their defensives. The objective of determining needs is to find out which vehicle to show them that will fill their needs so you can move on to the walk-around and test drive so they will fall in love with the car and build rapport. You are not trying to sell them a car at this point.

Only Determine Needs and Discover – Sell Later

Discovery is engaging them in small talk and discovering more about your customer. It’s time to start building rapport with your customer. However, this is only the beginning of building a relationship and it will continue through every one of the car sales steps. Discovering or uncovering your true customer can include questions like who would be the main driver, what is the major type of driving that they will be doing if they have children, where they live, where they work…etc. I am not saying that you should start firing personal questions at your customer one after another, but I am saying that the few questions you ask during this determine needs step will be based on their input. If they want a 7 passenger vehicle it’s appropriate to ask about kids or if they are concerned with the towing capacity you should ask them what they are towing. If they are towing a boat you can ask about fishing or skiing or if they are towing a camper you can ask about their camping trips.

All we want to do here is get them hooked on a car so you can move on to the next car sales step, the walk around. Stay away from the color question, because people will often switch colors once they have driven. Once you have determined their needs and what you are going to show them start at the lowest level unless the customer has told you differently. Depending on your dealership and inventory accessibility I always like to let walk with them through the inventory and let them pick and choose. It’s OK for a customer to bump himself or herself to a higher trim level, but it’s not OK for you to bump them into more car then they want, need or can afford.

Key Point: Listen closely to everything your customer says, their facial expressions and reactions. Read between the lines. How they react when you start by showing them a base model and what they say. Determining Needs is about more than listening to their words.

Once you have determined the needs of your customer and settled on a particular vehicle you should pull it away from all the other vehicles and start your walk-around. You can pull the car out of the parking spot to allow room for the walk around or perhaps you have an area used for walkarounds, whichever it is, make sure you separated the vehicle from the others.

Now that you have gotten through the original step to determine needs, started building rapport and discovered some things about your car buyer it’s time for a world class walk-around and more car sales tips.

Car Sales Step #3. The Car Sales Walk Around

Back to Sales Step #1 Meet and Greet

Back to Car Sales Steps 

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Maybe You Should Get the Car Sales Handbook


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