Channel | Sales

What’s Your Preference – Easy or Tough Customers?

Trainer Joe Verde shares how to turn the most challenging customers into repeat buyers
By: Joe Verde

What’s Your Preference – Easy or Tough Customers?

With two types of customers out there, who would you prefer – the easy ones or the tough ones? Most of us were taught to spend our careers waiting around for our dealers to supply us more of the toughest to close type of customer. If there are easy customers and tough customers, though, who would want to spend a career focusing on the toughest ones?

Most salespeople in the car business, that’s who. When you learn how to drive your own business into the dealership, by default, you deal with some of the nicest and easiest buyers in the market. They already like you, know you and trust you. When you don’t drive your own traffic, by default you spend most of your time working with…

  • Price Shoppers. They’ve seen ads from every dealership, most have been online, they’ve checked out pricing, and once they start their buying adventure, they’ll hit four or five dealerships before they buy. The good news: the other salespeople they’ll meet at other dealerships aren’t very good at what they do. So even if you want to spend a career hoping your dealer supplies you with these prospects – if you develop your skills, you can still hit 12 to 15 or 20 units a month.
  • People with a bad attitude today. Wow – after having to stop at four or five dealerships and talk to salespeople who were pretty clueless about the buying and selling process – who wouldn’t start having a bad day? When you run into someone who’s mad before you talk to them, assume they’ve been shopping for a car all day and the fun has worn off. Know, too, that if you get grumpy, they get worse; so just diffuse everything instead.

I always used to say, “Wow – sounds like you’ve been shopping for cars all day and aren’t having much fun.” Because I was correct more often than not, most would go through a light rant for a few seconds about how they’d been treated and how rotten we all are.

I’d listen and then apologize for how they were treated down the street by the other guy, “I understand how you feel and I apologize for those guys, and that’s why we do so much more business than everyone else around – customers like our no pressure approach. So who’s the lucky one, who gets the car this time Bob, you or Betty?”

And within a couple of minutes, we’re off on the right track and they’re glad they’ve met me.

  • People with a “How To Buy a Car” book or internet report, who only want to know how much over invoice you’ll sell it for. “We want a white one of those, we want (this) equipment and we know what you paid for it.”

You have a choice to make: Fight it or embrace it. Guess which way works best?

They’ve done this before and they’re expecting trouble. So congratulate them for doing their homework instead.

“Sounds like you guys know exactly what you want and have done your homework (and then get back on track), so who’s the lucky one, who gets the car this time Betty, you or Bob?” It’s for both of us, but we don’t want to play games, we want this vehicle in white. “Not a problem, let’s go find it, and what’s your second favorite color, blue or silver?” Silver, but we want white. “Great, and who’ll be driving most of the time, you or Bob?”

And in just a few easy questions, you’re out of the ditch and back on the road to a sale. All it takes is understanding how the customer actually feels, good selling skills and the confidence to pull it off.

  • Then you have some people who just want to grind the discount right out of you. They walk in a lot like the people above, but they’re a little tougher. They aren’t happy people, at least not today. “I want to know your best price (period)!” They don’t need to drive it, think they know everything and act like they can buy anything they want.

The best news; these are the five percenters we talk about. And to remind you, you’ll never have to talk to one of these prospects your entire career, if you’ll take the time to attend training and learn how to build your own business through follow up and prospecting.

But for those of you who enjoy a challenge or two every month – what’s the best way to handle them? There are three things I can think of: Head straight to your manager with your I’m weak and can’t control this guy story; Turn them to the new guy, go to lunch, and then try to weasel in on the deal if he makes it. Or my choice: Call their bluff.

I’ve learned through experience that while most of these people huff and puff, they really can’t blow your house down. Even better, I’ve learned that when you can get through to them, they’ll become some of your best customers and will refer tons of people to you. But you can’t be rude or arrogant – you just have to agree and close.

I want this car and I want your best price! “No problem, (start walking as you say…) pull out that check book, follow me and we’ll have you outta here in 20 minutes.”

Two statistics I know: He hasn’t driven this car and 99% of people won’t buy it until they do, and there’s a 94% chance he doesn’t have a checkbook big enough to write that check.

So what does he do? He stammers, gets flustered and before long says something like, “Now hold on (etc.)” Then you get to apologetically say, “Gosh, I got a little ahead of myself,” and start over with “Who’s the lucky one, etc.?”

If you’re going to focus on walk-in traffic, you’re going to need way better selling skills than if you deal with repeat customers, who buy because they like you. Walk-ins only buy when you can sell better than the salesperson down the street.

Big tip with tough customers: Quit trying to win the argument and learn how to make the sale instead.

This article was written by:

- has written 56 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

Joe Verde Sales & Management Training, Inc., is an automotive sales and management training company focused on leadership, management and sales training. Joe Verde holds workshops across North America and pioneered virtual training with JVTN.

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