Ask Joe
Ask Joe

"You say we should investigate, but if I go to ‘Best Buy’ to look for TVs and ask for a 60” LED-LCD HDTV by Sony, they don’t need to investigate, they just need to show me the TV that I asked for. Am I missing something here?"

I completely understand your question. People walk on the lot and say, “I want to look at one of those,” and we assume that’s what they want to buy, so we start telling the customer everything we know about that vehicle, and hope they’ll buy it, because that’s the one they said they wanted to see.

Assumptive selling is one thing, but there’s a big difference between what people ask to see and what they drive home in, and we’ve covered those statistics again and again. Eighty-six percent of people end up buying a different make, model or color, or with different equipment than they initially said they wanted to get.

And no, it’s not always about the price or the payments being too high. We’ve all had customers who said, “I want blue,” who took 10 steps and saw a color they hadn’t seen and said, “Wow, that’s a pretty color, I’ve never seen that before.”

There’s also the example we talk about in class. Let’s say you sell Fords and your next walk-in is headed to your dealership to buy a Focus. They’ve done their homework on the Internet and know exactly what equipment they want, exactly what color they want and are ready to trade today.

Two blocks from your dealership though, they stop at a light and a new Mustang pulls up next to them. Bob says to Betty, “Wow, look at that new Mustang – let’s look at one when we get to the dealership (before we buy our new Focus).”

So they walk on the lot and immediately ask for which vehicle – the one they came to buy or the one they want to see? Exactly, and that’s one of the problems of not investigating: Salespeople present the wrong vehicle 30 percent of the time. And I’m not talking about wrong financially, I’m talking about presenting vehicles the customer has no interest in buying.

Back to our Focus customers. They said, “We want to see the new Mustang,” so our salesperson gets excited and starts presenting, demonstrating and closing on the wrong car, simply because he assumed, instead of investigated.

Not only does he present the wrong vehicle, but not investigating also means he’ll never be able to create the value he’ll need to sell the right vehicle or make any profit, even if he was on the right car. Think about it – how can you say, “This is the best car for you,” if you don’t have a clue as to how the customer will use the vehicle or who will be driving it?

Remember these facts...

  • 86 percent will buy something other than what they said they wanted. So even if they had asked for the least expensive white Focus with a manual transmission, there’s an 86 percent chance they may drive away in a blue, automatic SE.
  • 85 percent of our customers said the salesperson did not try to find their wants and needs before they presented. If you’re one of the few who takes the time to be interested in the customer and how they’ll use the vehicle, you’ll stand out among the crowd and you’re statistically five times more likely to make the sale.
  • 80 percent of your selling is done in your presentation, on just 20 percent of the features on the vehicle. This is the other reason to investigate. You can’t focus on the 20 percent of the features they care about, if you don’t know what they are.

Stay away from price and find out what features, advantages and benefits they care most about. And never start dropping the price to try to get them interested in buying today. If they bring up price and ask, “So what can you do on this?” or “What would our payments be on this?” or “I saw this advertised somewhere else for $xxx,” it’s your job to get a commitment, not to work the deal.

That means your response should be something very close to, “Bob, it sounds like we’ve found the perfect vehicle for you two – so other than fitting this in your budget, is there any other reason we couldn’t put all this shopping behind you and send you home in it now?”

Now you’ve investigated to make sure you’re on the right vehicle, you’ve identified the 20 percent of the features they’re most interested in, you’ve built the value of owning the vehicle around those features, advantages and benefits, and you’ve just turned their question about pricing into a closing opportunity.

Best of all, you’ve altered their question and their focus on pricing to budget, which is a piece of cake to work with in your negotiation. When you close on budget instead of price, you have lots of ways to fit it into their budget (payment): Terms, more down, more for their trade, better mileage, etc.