Tag Archive | "selling technique"

The Buyer Interview – Back to the Basics

The phrase “buyer interview” may not be one you’ve heard, but it’s one I strongly recommend you understand and use.

Conducting an effective buyer interview is similar to what a good journalist does when interviewing someone for an article. You ask questions that get them talking about their situations, their needs, their desires and their concerns. In other words, you get them to tell you what they want to own.

This is not done in a manner like the “grilling” you see in the interrogation rooms of police shows on television. The buyer interview is conducted in a conversational manner, but one that you do control. This interview will also help you to quickly realize those situations where what the buyer is telling you they want may not be what they truly need.

For example, I know of a situation where a man went to a dealership to get a new minivan. He told the salesperson he just wanted to replace his old one. After asking a few of the questions you’ll learn about here, the salesperson realized that this man’s needs had changed since purchasing the minivan. His children were older now. They had taken up some outdoor activities that would be better suited to owning an SUV.

When the salesperson repeated back to the client what he was hearing him say about his needs, the client realized that he was right. He didn’t really need another minivan. He needed something different. He purchased the SUV.

So, what are the typical interview questions? The same ones our teachers taught us to use in elementary school: who, what, when, where, why and how. It’s truly that simple. In fact, most strategies for effectively communicating with clients are simple. It’s just a matter of using them.

Using the standard interview style, here are some keys for developing effective questions. These questions will get the answers you need to help clients make vehicle ownership decisions that are truly good for them.


  • Who will be the primary driver? That person is typically the true decision-maker when it comes to ownership. Also, their input as to style, color and options is critical.
  • Who else will be in the vehicle often? If there are young children involved, you’ll want to be certain to cover safety features, or suggest the optional DVD players.
  • Who will make the final buying decision? There’s nothing more disappointing than going through your whole presentation and getting to the point where you ask for their final decision, and they say, “Everything is great. Let me go talk to my wife/husband/dad/mom, etc.” Are you willing to have someone else present your vehicle to the decision-makers? Certainly not. They aren’t familiar with it like you are and couldn’t handle any objections and questions that would lead to the close. Always make sure you give your presentation to the actual decision-makers.


  • What are their motivations for getting a new vehicle? Is the current one broken down? Has their lifestyle situation changed?
  • What will it do for them? Are they seeking a status vehicle with all the bells and whistles? Or, something simple and durable for their work or recreation needs? These questions are essential because you don’t want to emphasize a point that they are uninterested in or have had a bad past experience with. The vehicle they’re interested in might be available in four-wheel drive. You may think that’s great because you spend your free time out in the wilderness. These folks may never leave the city or drive in the snow.


  • When will they need it? Is there an urgency for owning a new vehicle? If their existing vehicle is in disrepair, they are likely to be in a hurry. That’s good for you. If there’s no urgency, the sale may not happen today and you’ll have to serve their needs differently or create a sense of urgency due to delivery dates, a small quantity of vehicles in stock or special financing offers.
  • When is the timing right? Perhaps they’re waiting for their tax return. Maybe the vehicle is a gift for a child graduating this spring or going off to college in the fall. Perhaps they have a need to take a driving trip of some sort and the ability of the old vehicle to make the trip is in doubt.

Another important when question is: When do you go for the close? You don’t, of course, ask them this one, but it’s one you need to answer for yourself. I’ve always taught that you develop your own closing instinct by closing too soon and too often.

Always work toward the close and always be willing to close any time, any place. This could be in a conference room, in your office, on the lot or during the test drive. Don’t miss out on the opportunity by not being ready and willing to close when you see that they’re ready to make the decision.


  • Where will they use it? Help them see themselves driving to work, taking the kids to practice or taking that road trip in the vehicle. Developing this sense of ownership in your prospect moves them closer to choosing the right vehicle for their needs.


  • Why should they own this vehicle now? It’s your job to create a sense of urgency if they don’t already have one. They deserve to be driving the right vehicle for their needs today, don’t they?
  • Why are they thinking about it? If they want to think over the decision, ask them what aspects are holding them back from making a decision today. (Hint: It will almost always be the money.)


  • How can they finance it?
  • How does it fit into their lifestyle? The value of getting them talking about their lives is incredible. They will often talk themselves into ownership with you simply acting as their guide.

By now, you should be getting the picture of how the interview will go. Be careful to come across as an adviser or automobile counselor. Don’t grill them with all of these questions. Simply weave them into your conversation and you’ll soon be closing more sales and waving farewell to more satisfied clients as they drive off the lot in their new vehicles.

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Building Overall Value with Price-focused Customers

Question: “I sell more ‘full-pop’ deals than any other salesperson here. But how do I handle it when a customer is loaded with money and buying seems to be a ‘game’ to grind us until there’s no profit left? This type of person seems to care less if I feed my family or pay my rent. It’s really frustrating me.”

Answer: The good news … he’s the 10 percent-er, not your normal customer.

Who knows why people like him do whatever they do … maybe just to watch salespeople and managers squirm. In the case of a special finance customer, he finds out he’s approved and starts shopping everywhere just because he can.

It sounds like you normally do everything by the book, so don’t change a thing when you get this customer, except for this: no matter how bad you want the sale, always remember, “He who cares least, wins.” That’s especially true in buying and selling and more so when you’re in the negotiation.

Why? Because money isn’t the issue with this customer, and if you’re willing to (pretend to) shrug off losing a sale with the, ‘I just hate to see you miss out’ attitude, he’s more likely to buy.

Why? A host of reasons. The point is, you can’t ever be the underdog and win, which means you can’t allow yourself to keep running back and forth from your manager to a customer like a scared rabbit trying to make a deal.

Instead be calm, focus on the benefits he’s looking for, keep repeating (in different ways) why and how only you and your dealership can help him get those benefits and keep closing the sale.

Remember the vehicle is just a vehicle and he can get that anywhere he wants to. In the end, it’s almost always about you and your dealership (the people and service). It’s the people, not the vehicle, who offer the added value and that’s what you sell to every price shopper, especially someone who just wants to make your life in sales miserable.

My strategy with this type of buyer…

Step 1. Relax and agree with him. When we are down to the wire and he says he can buy anywhere he wants and can always save more there, I always nod and agree: “Of course you can, and unfortunately you’ll still never get that best deal, because no matter where you buy, somebody else would have saved you another $10 or $20. (Short pause…) Since you’re trying to get the best deal overall, it’s a shame to miss out on everything else you get here at our dealership compared to the other places you might buy from, just to save a few bucks up front.”

Step 2. With any luck, he’ll ask, “What will I miss?” and now you get a chance to do more selling of you and the dealership. If you have a free oil change program, loaners, car wash, shuttle, storage, etc., you need to sell the added value. And most important, I tell my customers they’ll miss ‘me’ and the extra mile I go for my customers.

Step 3. I sell myself as the added value he can’t replace down the street at any price. If I do a good job up to this point, they already know I’m right because they can easily spot the difference between me and the other salespeople they’ve dealt with in their ‘best price’ quest.

Step 4. I always ask customers like him if they’ve ever wasted a day in service or were frustrated at a dealership in the past. They all say ‘yes’ and then I explain how I take care of my customers and follow through for them to make sure that doesn’t happen here, which in the end saves them time and more money than they could ever save by buying down the street, just to save $50 or $500.

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Questions Are the Answer

When you work with a new-car prospect, don’t you agree that you should try for several minor “yeses” before you go for the big “yes” buying decision? It makes sense, doesn’t it? It would be helpful to learn a specific technique that would begin a string of “yes” answers, wouldn’t it? You’re probably getting tired of all these questions, aren’t you?

If you answered yes to these four questions, you’ve just proven the effectiveness of the “tie-down” questioning technique. Let me begin by defining the term tie-down. A tie-down is a question at the end of a sentence that calls for a positive response. Here are some examples:

“A reputation for excellent service after the sale is important in making this decision, isn’t it?”
“I can tell you are happy to hear that we have a wide range of financing options, aren’t you?”
“You can see how our evening service hours would make your life easier, can’t you?”

This technique works most effectively when you tie-down a positive statement about the benefits of your services that you know your prospect needs. The key is to not over-use them so your prospect won’t suspect you’re using a technique. Here are 18 standard tie-downs that you’ll find useful:

Aren’t they? Don’t we? Isn’t it?
Aren’t you? Shouldn’t it? Isn’t that right?
Can’t you? Wouldn’t you? Didn’t it?
Couldn’t it? Haven’t they? Wasn’t it?
Doesn’t it? Hasn’t he? Won’t they?
Hasn’t she? Won’t you? Don’t you agree?

You don’t want to use too many of them with any one client, just enough to get the “yeses” flowing. Experiment with your existing presentation until you find a comfortable number of tie-downs to use without sounding repetitive.

Another way to keep these tie-downs from sounding overused is to use them in other forms: “inverted” and “Internal.” I’ll use the same example as above to demonstrate them.

STANDARD: A reputation for excellent service after the sale is important in making this decision, isn’t it?
INVERTED: Isn’t a reputation for service after the sale important in making this decision?
INTERNAL: A reputation for excellent service after the sale is important, isn’t it, in making this decision?

The inverted and internal tie-downs allow you to hide the fact that you’re using a technique while adding warmth to your statements. By using all three types, you’ll have a good mixture of them to build into your presentation. Once you’ve learned them and worked with them, use of the tie-down will become a speech habit that will improve your business and your earnings.

Another form of the tie-down you might consider using is the “tag-on tie-down.” It can be used in a variety of ways. The simplest is to tie down a positive statement your prospect has just made. For example, if he says, “Having a good extended warranty is important,” you would say, “Isn’t it?” The prospect made a positive statement and you agreed, but then you also asked for another positive statement. The statement being the word, “yes.”

Another useful questioning technique is the “Alternate of Choice.” An alternate of choice question is one that suggests two answers, either one will confirm that your prospect is going ahead. The easiest example of this is for getting an appointment. The average salesperson will say to their prospect, “When can we get together?” This allows the prospect to say, “Never” or “I’m too busy just now, I’ll call you later.”

In using the alternate of choice question, you would say, “I have an appointment opening this afternoon at 3 p.m. or would 4:30 p.m. be more convenient for you?” You’ve given your prospect two choices, one of which they will most likely agree to. If they cannot make either appointment, they’ll tell you and you can counter with another alternate.

This is also a good technique to use when you try to get a delivery date from your prospect once they show signs of going ahead. “You mentioned wanting to remove some things from your current vehicle. How soon would you want to take delivery of your new truck? Today or would tomorrow be better?” Just remember to use it whenever you have two alternatives you can give to your prospect, and both of them require a positive response.

These two simple questioning techniques are the first steps to turning your existing presentations into positive momentum builders. Remember, a quick reading of these techniques will not do. You need to read them, study them, learn them and practice them until they become a natural part of your speech. If you have to stop and think before using these techniques, your prospect will suspect you are using a sales technique and will try to fight you. Once they’ve become a natural part of your speech, they will flow smoothly and add warmth to your presentation. All it takes is one “yes” to turn a prospect into a satisfied client.

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