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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Finding Good Car Salesmanship

Henry Ford famously said that if he had asked his original customers what they wanted, they would have requested a faster horse.

A seven-year study used mystery shopping to rank by brand how effectively dealerships handle customers and turn car shoppers into buyers.

Smart salespeople build rapport and ask customers questions to understand their individual needs. Meanwhile, customers are focused less on the salesman’s process and more on things such as what color to choose, leasing vs. buying, trade in values, and options.

Customers aren’t thinking about whether the salesperson is smiling or whether the restrooms were clean. Yet, they are precise when it comes to measuring time spent (or wasted) at a dealership. If the salesperson says it will take 20 minutes to finish up, and the customer is still there two hours later, they very aware of that.

In the last few years, many dealers follow a more defined process. Dealers in the top quarter sell 16% more vehicles than dealerships in the bottom quarter. Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti, Lexus, Audi and GMC occupy the top five spots of the 2013 dealership performance index.

Sometimes the first thing a salesperson says to the customer is: “May I help you?” However, some salespeople know that is the wrong thing to say because half the time the customer response is, “I’m just looking.” Good salespeople avoid that trap by instead striking up a conversation, saying something like: “I saw you pull up in a ‘dualie’ pickup truck. Does that mean you tow a lot?” which gets the selling started.

Several manufacturers lately have urged their dealers to upgrade facilities. Some dealers are questioning whether new and elaborate stores actually sells more cars. Facilities can make a difference, but if a person already is at the dealership, it has the right vehicle in stock and the salesperson is on point, then the sale has almost nothing to do with the facility.