Qualifying Your Customer

Car dealer giving keys to a customer in a car shop

If you think of the sales-qualifying process like a doctor’s examination, you will be able to understand why critical questions must be asked. If your doctor doesn’t ask you important, health-issue questions or perform any tests, it will be impossible for them to properly diagnose you. The more questions you ask your customer the more useful information you will get. And if you don’t know what’s wrong or needed, how can you help them buy a new vehicle? Qualifying is what the best sales people do in any business.

It has always amazed me why some sales people are not sure what their customer wants, who’s involved, is there a trade, who’s the main driver and the list goes on. You need to know everything you can. Not knowing why the customer is in your place of business is what weak sales people do.

Before we launch into your qualifying questions, you must determine where and when you should ask them. Most of the time you will ask the following questions on the dealership lot or in your office. In most cases you can and should blend these questions with your vehicle presentation.

As a salesperson, and like a doctor, you have to start your qualifying examination questions immediately following a proper greeting. The initial questions you ask your customer set the tone and builds rapport for the entire buying experience. The qualifying questions should be followed in order. Following the steps in order will create a consistent, cohesive conversation, which identifies and classifies the desires and requirements of each customer.

You should always act as if you are the sales manager. What does your manager want to know about your customer? The best sales people listen more than they talk, so start listening to your customers.

The following are some of the best qualifying questions you need to ask. Always start with a professional greeting.

“Welcome to ASC Dealership, My name is_____________and your name is?”

(first and last name always)

1. “Is this your first visit to the dealership?”

This determines if the customer has been dealing with another sales representative and how they heard about the dealership.

2. “Did you come in today because of an advertised vehicle we are featuring?”

This question will eliminate any confusion and get you directly to the unit they are interested in.

3. “Did you know that our dealership is having a sale or special event today?”

A point of interest about your dealership is always helpful in building credibility. If you are having a special on a particular vehicle, mention the special immediately; even if they are not interested. Everyday is a special sale day.

4. “What features are you looking for in your new vehicle,

(Do Not Pause Here) New Or Used, two door or four, a Truck, a Mini-Van, 4X4, a sports utility, automatic or manual transmission, four, six, or eight cylinder engine, air conditioning, Am/Fm stereo, CD player, blue tooth, USB port, MP3, GPS System, power windows and locks, sunroof, cloth, or leather interior, your color preference dark or light? etc…”

Obviously this determines what type of vehicle the customer is looking for and helps you narrow down your inventory. This will get you one step closer to determine what the customer has in mind.

5. “What do you have in your present vehicle that you would like to have in your new vehicle?”

This determines if there is a trade involved. It also helps out to find the customer’s “Hot Buttons” or the features in the vehicle that are most important to them.

6. “Will you be selling (trading-in) your present vehicle?”

Explain the tax saving for trading in their vehicle, if there is one. You have to make sure if the customer is planning on trading in their vehicle. The reason you are saying selling instead of trading is because selling has more financial value to it. This information will determine how you to handle the trade negotiation.

7. “How many miles do you drive per month or year?”

This will help determine which needs are required depending on how much the car is driven. It also influences the leasing mileage restrictions.

8. “Who will be the main driver of the vehicle?”

This question is important, because if you are dealing with a husband / wife and the wife is the main driver you have to focus more of your attention on the wife. You have to focus at least 60% of your time on the main driver. This question will also determine if anyone else may be involved in the buying decision (spouse/ co-worker/ children). If the main driver does not want, fit, or like the vehicle, it will not be sold.

9. “Will there be anyone else involved in the decision regarding your new vehicle or will it just be yourself?”

This is a direct way of making sure all the decision makers are present. This question should be used with care, since some customers may take offense to it. If you do not know the answer to this question by the time you are ready to ask for the sale, guess what you just might hear them say?

10. “Is the vehicle going to be used for business, pleasure or family use?”

This question helps narrow down the purpose of the vehicle. It will help you determine if leasing is going to be an option. If it is for the family, then size and safety are important.

11. “What price range did you want to be around, did you want to be around $10,000.00 to $15,000.00…

(pause and see what they say)

$15,000.00 to $20,000.00…$25,000.00 to $30,000.00

(pause and see what they say).

This question narrows down a maximum and minimum vehicle price. Most people have these numbers calculated long before they visit your dealership.

12. “If you are like most people you might be concerned about getting approved on a new or used vehicle. Please don’t worry, we have one of the best financial people in the city. We will get you approved.”

When you tell the customer this, it will ease their mind on credit approval. You are probably one of the only salespersons in the city that has said this to them.

13. “How were you thinking of paying for your new vehicle; cash, financing or leasing?”

This obviously determines what type of financing the buyer is contemplating and gives you some idea of their financial position.

14. What type of monthly budget do you want to be around…$600.00…$500.00…?”

This will give you an idea of the selling price of the vehicle you should be looking for. There is one problem; the trade and cash down will affect the monthly payment. So if the customer wants a $50,000 vehicle and only wants to pay $400 per month, they must have money down or a trade. It is very important for you to try to increase the customer’s payment expectations, because their monthly budget will rarely match the vehicle they want.

These are some of the best qualifying questions you can use and when combined with a proper greeting and vehicle presentation, you will have an excellent start to a professional selling process.

You should role play these qualifying questions with another salesperson at your dealership until they become your own. Proper customer qualification will always increase your sales and gross profits.

The more you practice something, the better you’ll get and the luckier you will become.

Darin George is the president of ASC Recruiting and Sales Training, www.visitasc.com. He is the author of two books: Sales Training—Automotive Edition and Sales Process—Can You Sell Me A Pen? available at www.barnsandnoble.com You can contacted Darin directly by email at dgeorge@dealermark.com for dealership services.

Darin George


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