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Car sales tips: How to be a good car salesperson

How to be a good car salesperson
1Learn your customers’ names and remember them
2Know what your customer wants
3Avoid misleading customers
4Treat every customer equally
5Don’t disparage other dealers
6Mention price last
7Discuss payment after price is finalized and be upfront about fees
8Use your downtime wisely
9Be patient
10Keep an eye out for tire kickers
11Follow up with customers after the sale
12Drive online marketing initiatives
13Use customer relationship management (CRM) software
Final thoughts

It’s no secret that the future of auto sales is shifting gears. Today’s car shopper is spending more time researching everything from inventory to prices to True Market Value online.

This access to information and inventory means the big selling point for any particular dealership is going to be the customer experience. To be a successful car sales professional, you have to do more than just sell cars. You need car sales tips that will help you cultivate customer relationships, cater to individual buyers and reframe any negative ideas people have about car sales professionals.

In this article, we share car sales tips on how to be a good car salesperson in today’s market.

1. Learn your customers’ names and remember them

In sales, personalization makes customers feel like they matter and establishes trust. This is no different in car sales. Build stronger relationships by learning names from the first contact, whether you meet a potential customer on the showroom floor or get the lead online.

Using customers’ names when you see them, sending personalized emails and tailoring content to their interests are all good ways to create a great first impression and build rapport. Showing customers they matter is crucial to helping them feel confident in your dealership, which is a first step toward getting them into the showroom and, ultimately, buying a car.

2. Know what your customer wants

A good car salesperson knows what their customers want and delivers on their expectations. According to research by Cox automotive, customers spend an average of 13-15 hours researching online, so it’s safe to say that most of them already have a specific car in mind by the time they contact a dealership. Learn about what they want by asking and then listening.

Follow up on what you learn by showing them exactly what they’re looking for. Give them a good overview of the car they’re interested in and ask questions like, “What sort of features or feelings do you want from your automobile?” These will let you dig deeper and pitch them similar options or open them up to a wider selection of great cars.

Go into every interaction with the goal of learning what a customer wants to ensure you can meet their needs.

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3. Avoid misleading customers

Part of building customer trust is being honest when you don’t know the answer to a question. Giving false information is a risky sales tactic that hurts your relationships and your business.

For instance, say a car buyer approaches a used car salesperson about an imperfection on a car they’re looking at. The salesperson doesn’t know the car’s history but doesn’t want to look uninformed, so they respond, “Oh, that’s just cosmetic. It’s an easy fix.”

If it turns out the car was damaged in an accident, the customer is going to feel duped and the dealership’s reputation, not to mention future sales, will take a hit.

Don’t cover up your lack of knowledge by giving a partial answer or, worse, making one up, if a buyer asks you a question you can’t answer. Instead, explain that you don’t know but will find out. Then ask a colleague or manager or research the question to get your customer an answer they can trust.

4. Treat every customer equally

A good car salesperson should never judge a book by its cover. This car sales tip may seem insignificant, but snap judgments can lose potential sales.

Never make assumptions about income, decision-making clout or willingness to invest based on appearances.

If someone comes to the dealership with their partner and you assume one makes more money and will have more say in the decision, you’ll treat them differently. Similarly, deciding up front that someone who comes in wearing a suit is more willing to invest in a new car than someone who comes in dressed more casually will impact your interaction.

When you don’t treat people as respected, viable buyers, they’ll likely take their business elsewhere. Instead, treat everyone as a top-priority customer. If partners are buying a car together, make them both feel like a valued part of the purchasing process by making eye contact, asking them the same questions and showing equal attention.

Create a positive car buying experience by treating every potential customer, regardless of appearance or dress, with the respect you owe a serious prospect.

5. Don’t disparage other dealers

Professionalism extends to your attitude toward your competitors as well. When a potential customer comes into the dealership and tells you about “Competitor X”, resist the urge to trash-talk your competition. Instead, focus on what makes your dealership different.

For instance, if a potential customer comes in and says, “Dealership X has a terrible service department,” instead of agreeing, you could say, “I’m sorry you’ve had that experience, you’ll be glad to hear that our service department has been ranked the highest in town for over a decade and has a five-star rating by the BBB. Additionally, we offer an extended five-year warranty on all new vehicles.”

6. Mention price last

A good car salesperson knows when to make the sales pitch and start discussing price. Never lead with it, though you should be aware of a customer’s budget and financing concerns.

When you know the buyer is in love with a car and ready to buy, that’s the time to ask, “Are you ready to buy this car today?” If the reply is “Yes”, then you can start discussing the price of the car.

At this point, it’s a good idea to get your sales manager in on the conversation to help negotiate price, maximize the dollars for you and the dealership and give your buyer a deal they feel is fair.

7. Discuss payment after price is finalized and be upfront about fees

Wait to discuss cash down, extended warranty, monthly payments, trade-in values and more until you’ve negotiated a price the customer is happy with. Getting into the details of how the sale will be financed can be overwhelming when you’re not talking real numbers, and you risk scaring potential buyers off.

Surprise fees associated with purchasing a car can also turn off potential buyers. As you discuss price and payment, be clear about any extra costs like the processing fee, the tax and registration fee, the licensing fee and so on.

Help buyers feel in control of their purchase by starting with an established price and being transparent about any additional costs.

8. Use your downtime wisely

Use the time during slow days or weeks at your dealership to become better at selling.

For instance, read up on new car models, catch up on auto industry news, follow up with prospects, brainstorm ways to improve the sales process with your sales team or read content aimed at helping you fine-tune your sales techniques.

9. Be patient

Although prospects want to buy, they don’t necessarily want to be sold to. Counteract the historically negative perception of the “pushy car salesman” by giving people time to think and decide. Even if they leave without a purchase on their first visit, follow up with an email thanking them for touring your dealership and stating how much you’ve enjoyed working with them.

Keep cultivating relationships and be patient and you’ll see the efforts of being a good car salesperson begin to pay off.

10. Keep an eye out for tire kickers

Every salesperson encounters tire kickers, but it’s the ones car salespeople have to deal with that give this particular brand of customer their name.

Although you need to be patient and respectful with all customers, be aware of any that are potentially taking you away from deals that are more likely to close.

Here are some characteristics common to tire kickers:

  • They don’t fit your ideal customer profile

  • They’ve done no research into the solution they need

  • They can’t afford what you’re selling

It’s important to avoid snap judgments and to treat all customers equally. However, if someone comes into the dealership every day for a week and test drives half the cars on your lot without making a decision, it’s best to find a way to spend less time with them.

Watching out for these unproductive leads will let you reserve more of your time for other, more decisive customers.

11. Follow up with customers after the sale

When a customer drives off the lot with their new car, that shouldn’t be the end of your relationship. The key to sales success is keeping that customer for a lifetime either by getting them to come back or garnering referrals.

After the sale, check in and see how your customer likes their new car. Encourage them to leave a review or send referrals and thank them for their business.

Personalized communication that shows genuine concern for customer satisfaction leaves a lasting impression and will bring customers back again and again.

12. Drive online marketing initiatives

Reach potential customers where they do their research with online marketing. Build brand trust and establish your dealership as an expert resource with clear, consistent messaging and useful content. Share special offers, tips, articles and videos on your site and across social media platforms. To capture reader interest, share things like:

  • Information about your team and culture

  • Walkarounds of new cars on the lot

  • Giveaways and service center specials

  • Vehicle maintenance tips

For example, take a look at this car walkaround video created by Germain Ford:

The video introduces searchers to the dealership and its team. It also sets the dealership up as an industry expert with an informative overview of a model the buyer has shown interest in.

13. Use customer relationship management (CRM) software

Whether you’re a new car salesperson or a veteran professional, automotive customer relationship management (CRM) software is a must. This invaluable tool helps you schedule appointments, communicate with potential buyers and maintain relationships with existing customers.

A good CRM also simplifies and reduces administrative work like scheduling appointments, doing client research and tracking inventory. All this frees you up for the important work of connecting with buyers and getting new leads.

Final thoughts

Being a good salesperson comes down to focusing on the customer. The car sales tips we’ve shared will help you sell more cars by building and progressing lasting customer relationships.

Keep track of what you learn about your customers and monitor their progress through good customer relationship management practices. A good CRM will help you collect customer data, build trust with leads and measure performance to deliver the ultimate car dealership service.

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