I want to go away and think about it…

As many businesses in the car retail sector wrestle with selling cars to a better educated market, we thought it would be interesting to explore how modern car dealers present themselves to their more knowledgeable clientele. They have to be completely customer centric but at the same time still need to employ traditional selling and closing techniques without upsetting or intimidating customers but ensuring they still actually buy a car.

Not many ‘old school’ sales execs survive in the modern world because, although they are experts at moving ‘metal’ they are not always deemed to be the best people to promote customer satisfaction and are only really committed to making money.

This, in today’s showroom, is at odds with how franchised car dealers are allowed to operate in line with the manufacturers, where profitability today can rest on the large sums paid out on customer satisfaction and the following of established sales processes.

Whilst there are many sales people who can be both profitable and customer friendly they are a dying breed because not only are they set in their ways and do not take kindly to being told to “sell by numbers” and not deviate from the script.

Conversely many younger new style sales execs are great with the “touchy feely” process driven, box ticking side of the job, but do not necessarily have the selling skills or maybe even the personality to move large volumes of cars and generate good profits.

It is a challenge for all concerned and requires training and coaching and patience to try to find a balance in which to operate successfully in today selling arena. Let’s take a look at some typical responses from sales people from the old school and the new world of softly softly catch monkey!

“I want to go away and think about it.”

New breed: “Yes, I empathize with you on that, I really do. Buying a car is a very big decision and should not be taken lightly. Here is my card, here are the brochures if you have any more questions please give me a call on the number printed on the card. But, you know what? I buy things as well and whenever I have told a salesperson I want to “go away and think about it” it is usually because there is something I’m not happy with and I really don’t want to offend them. So with that in mind is there anything about the car or the numbers that you’re not totally happy about? Please tell me I honestly won’t be offended.”

Old school: “what’s there to think about? Does your wife make the decisions in your house?

“I want to visit some other dealers to see what they are offering.”

New breed: “I understand that you have a choice but is there anything else we can do today to help you make a decision?”

Old school: “this deal is for now and will not be available this afternoon let alone tomorrow”

“I’m not really sure i can afford it.”

New breed: “OK perhaps we can help by looking at some flexible finance plans which may be a better fit for your budget or maybe take a look at some different models.”

Old school: “Well why are we looking at this model let’s get you into a cheaper car then, or get you on the drip for 5 years.”

“I feel pressurised and want to take a step back.”

New breed: “OK I’m sorry you feel that way. That is the last thing we want, we would like you to buy a car but want it to be the right car for you and your budget, let’s talk again tomorrow and see what you r thoughts are.”

Old school: “Well you have been here a long time now and its decision time I have other people interested in this car so we either sign up now or I can sell it to someone else but I guarantee you one thing, it won’t be here tomorrow.”

“Is that your best price?”

New breed: “We try and price our cars competitively to the market and if you are interested in doing a deal I can go ask my manager what else we can do for you, is that ok?”

Old school: “What would you be prepared to pay to have a deal right now?”

“Can you throw in any extras?”

New breed: “What sort of thing did you have in mind? I could maybe get you a set of mats and a keying or throw in your next service free of charge how does that sound?”

Old school: “You have already cut me to the bone! I may be able to throw in a tank of squirt and a bit of rent but you would need to leave a dipper and sign an order now.”

“I would like to compare the finance quote with my own bank.”

New breed: “Why don’t we look at some high street lenders online now, at least you will get an idea if we are competitive and remember we only fund cars and have to be completive. Also by using our facilities you can free up a credit line with your bank for other potential purchases.”

Old school: “That’s fine but that doesn’t stop you buying the car leave me a deposit sign the order and let me know how you are going to fund it tomorrow.”

“Could you take the car off sale for 24 hours whilst i think about it?”

New breed: “I will ask my manger but I don’t think it will be a problem as long as you let me know by this time tomorrow and are absolutely sure you have made the right decision.”

Old school: “I would but my manger will not do it without a signed order and a deposit let’s stop wasting time and get this done.” “This car will not be here tomorrow as long as you don’t get upset when you call back and i have sold it to someone else.”

There are probably hundreds more examples of this and if you have any of your own we will be happy to publish them. But whilst this is a fairly tongue in cheek stereotypical look at the difference between old and new style techniques it certainly highlights the predicament faced by all the participants in the modern world of car sales. Too much pressure and the customer runs away, not enough pressure and the customer thinks you don’t really want to sell them a car.

The answer, of course, is common sense, transparency crystal clear communication, professionalism but perhaps above all else, building a rapport and establishing a relationship which can lead to mutually beneficial outcomes.

Now that’s “modern world” if ever i have heard it!


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4 Responses to I want to go away and think about it…

  1. Mark Robbins January 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

    Are you guys for real? nobody i know in the independent sector speaks like that to customers nowadays, just because we are “Old School” as you put it, does not mean we all treat customers like fools!

    When was the last time you were selling cars outside of a Dealer Network on your own premises with your own money?

    As for “Selling by numbers” i lose count of the amount of customers who say to us “they cannot stand sales people who are obviously sticking to a well proven scipt, it’s so patronising!

    Bit like this article……………………………………

  2. howard dennis January 21, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    I think you need to lighten up a bit mate! I remember doing things like that its only a bit of fun looking back on how things used to be, I think maybe you’re just being a little sensitive.

  3. Mark Robbins January 27, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Not really Howard, I never have nor would i ever speak like that, you may remember doing things the old “Arthur Daly” way but i just find that pathetic, and i started out on a pitch with a caravan in the late 1970’s, “know what i mean guv’nor”………………………………………..

  4. Mark Robbins January 30, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    Just one other thing i simply have to add, this weekend our 27yr old salesperson (who is regually asked to read and divulge these articles) tried the so called “New Breed” answer when asked if he could “throw in some extra’s” and was rebuffed in no uncertain way with the answer “Are you taking the p*** out of me mate”? needless to say, the customer got his Tank of fuel AND six months road tax, Key ring and mats in this climate?………..do us a favour!

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