How To Be A Salesperson Instead Of An Order-Taker

Image of Hale Soucie
Hale Soucie

A shopper comes into your dealership. They ask one of your sales people the price on a model, the salesperson gives it to them they turn around and walk out the door. Sound familiar?

The thing is, it’s really not the salesperson’s fault. With the world getting smaller and smaller and consumers having more options, car shoppers are visiting fewer dealerships and instead spending most of the buying process online. The convenience this offers them has caused shoppers to want to spend less time talking to sales people and immediately push for the end-game: what is the price?

Why that’s hard to answer is that its typically on a specific car in stock, not on a specific model and package. The danger in just giving them a price is that this prevents you from knowing what's necessary to sell these people a car instead of acting as a price check.

If the salesperson had handled the conversation better they would know that in that model there is a huge swing in price and perhaps the one they priced out was outside the shoppers budget. If they had the opportunity to talk to the shopper, they may have seen the options they wanted were available in a cheaper or late model used with even more features.

It is important to remember that you are not trying to sell them – you are helping them focus on the decisions they have to make to buy a car. Your job is to artfully engage the customer and get them to share with you under what circumstances they will purchase a car.

Whether or not they will buy a car from you is dependent on The Big Three: car choice, financial circumstances and time frame.

So how do you find out the customer’s Big Three? Through a series of alternative choice questions.

Alternative choice questions are questions that act as an assumptive close, meaning that by how the they are framed, “no” is removed as a choice and replaced with options for them to decide on.

Instead of “Do you like this car?” questions should be framed as “Of these three cars, which one do you prefer?” “Of these three features, which one is most important to you?”

The first is a “yes or no” question that leads to dead-ends as you aren’t helping the customer identify their wants and needs. “Yes or no” questions make the conversation tedious and offer natural stopping points that the customer can more easily walk away from.

When presented with three choices, customers spend more time focusing on what they like, as opposed to what they do not. Studies have also shown that when given three choices, more customers will go for the middle option, instead of the lower end when presented with only two options.

Through alternative choice, your sales staff can avoid being too “high-pressure.” Like we said before, the customer is already pushing for the bottom-line, and if you are racing to the end as well, the conversation can end without you or the customer ever finding out what they truly want and need.

You need to constantly assure the prospect that these questions are to help them find out what their best price is. By using alternative choice questions, the customer feels less manipulated and will more freely give you insight into their wants and needs to both of your benefit.

Working through the Big Three with alternative choice questions helps you and the shopper realize what they want, helps you put them in the best car for them, and in the end will help you make more sales while making the process more enjoyable for the customer.

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