Car sales techniques are fine as long as everyone knows the score

Being part of a merry band of ‘insiders’ can be quite fun at times and gives us an opportunity to tell tales and give away some trade secrets, and unlike the magic circle we hopefully won’t get thrown out for revealing the more darker examples. We have thankfully not sworn an oath to never disclose tricks and sales techniques, and at the end of the day I personally believe that if customers were happy that dealers acted in a more transparent fashion they would not begrudge them making a profit or a good sales exec earning a decent commission.

Despite what people may think sales people (by that I mean good sales people) work incredibly hard and long hours but importantly know that by looking after their customers there is a much better chance of repeat and continued business, and the ones that understand this can earn a reasonable living.

The point is explaining sales techniques in the way we do does not necessarily mean that the customer will not buy, or that the sales exec won’t be able to close a sale but perhaps it might promote a better understanding of how a sales arena really operates.

For example there are literally millions of pounds spent annually on sales training and coaching sessions designed to help sales people sell more and make more for the company and although having a good personality and excellent communication skills is a great help, being able to ask the right questions at the right time is just as important when it comes to maximising opportunities.

One of the first things I learned when training to be a professional car salesman was how to deal with a phone enquiry. I was instructed to use phrases such as “when would you like to come and visit the showroom, this afternoon or would tomorrow morning suit you better?” instead of “when would you like to come in?” which gives a customer the chance to say “I’ll call you back and let you know”.

We were also told not to give away too much information over the phone, but just keep aiming for the appointment as we’d have a much better chance of selling a car once we’d got the prospect physically in the showroom and created a bit of desire. When you think about it what is really wrong with that? If a customer is genuinely interested in a car then he or she will be happy to make the appointment and if they are not and just masking a general enquiry, then nobody has their time wasted once this has been established.

There is also nothing wrong with asking customers questions that they are bound to give an answer to. For example instead of asking a straightforward “can I help you?” when they could answer no, a sales person would say “how can I help you?” which is a more leading way of saying the same thing. It is not designed to trap anyone but simply provides more information from the prospect and helps the sales person open up dialogue and begin qualifying.

The mistrust that built up in the years before the internet was mainly down to the fact that buyers had to rely on car dealers for any information about the cars they sold and therefore the dealer retained all the control. This meant that in many cases buyers could be sold a lemon or a car they didn’t really want. Once the web became available to the masses control swung completely the other way and buyers are now empowering themselves at the click of a mouse and if they detect any one trying to mislead them they can end the contact straight away.

This has made it harder in some ways but easier in others for dealers to sell cars, all they have to do is put as much info about the models with spec, history, ownership, description and price etc, be competitive in the market place and the job is half done. All that remains is getting the part-exchange price right and convincing the buyer that the car being sold is the one they should have at a price which everyone is happy with.

It doesn’t really matter that sales execs will use techniques to try and close buyers into certain deals so long as the rest of the job has been done properly and the car is actually the one a buyer definitely wants to buy. From the dealer point of view it saves a lot of time if the buyer is ready to accept the way the game is played and get to a price he is happy to deal at.

So next time you are in a car showroom and the sales guy says that he has been to his manager and the cost to change is some weird figure like £4,763.59p this really is just a sales technique designed to make the customer think that if the figures are this exact there must surely be no more meat on the bone.

But remember it doesn’t hurt to ask for more they can always say no can’t they?


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