I’ve been watching negotiations for years now at the car dealership, and I can safely say that many salespeople routinely drop the ball when trying to close a deal. Watching the repeated fumblings of these crucial steps in the car sales process inspired me to write this article “Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal.”

There are a few caveats to this article, as it is focused on a buyer that has no restrictions, other than desire, on being able to buy. If your customer is credit challenged, this checklist isn’t going to save you. Secondly, this is focused on closing the deal with a new customer. There are some key ways in which dealing with a repeat customer is different!

This is what we are going to cover in this article “Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal”:

  1. Mutual Respect
  2. Demonstrated Desire to Sell
  3. Agreement On Product
  4. Back And Forth
  5. Staying Calm
  6. A Feeling of Finality and Authority

Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #1: Mutual Respect

In one of my most popular articles thus far, I reviewed the ideas brought forth in the book “Crucial Conversations”:

Perceptions, opinions, and experiences differ among all people. In order to have a conversation in which customers will reveal honest objections, it is critical to have a “safe space”.

If a customer feels that their ego is threatened in any way, they will not be able to communicate honestly!

Here is my “safe space” equation:

Mental Preparedness -> Mutual Respect -> “Safe Space”

Once you have a safe space, you will be successful in uncovering the true objections that lurk below the placeholder objections.

The need for mutual respect is key in closing deals with customers. Customers enter into your dealer wary, scared of the tricks that you are planning to spring on them. They suspect deceit at every turn. You certainly don’t need to take my word for it. Just do a quick search on any of the Question/Answer sites on the web. Look at the question posted in 2017:

I had my car keys taken at the dealership and was almost forced to purchase a car (refused to let me leave). How does one deal with such a situation?”

Can you imagine? You work in a world where things like that still happen.

car sales tips closing a car deal is hampered by customers reading scary stories online

this is the kind of thing your customers read

Let’s say I read that question on Quora before going in to buy my new car. How would I prepare for this? I would certainly read the advice on Quora of course! Here is the #1 response to that question:

“The Golden Rule of dealing with ASSHOLES. Be the bigger Asshole.

They typically leverage guilt, intimidation, conflict avoidance, and social pressure to get what they want. You do the same, but more and better.”

Now, do you understand the battlefield you are walking into?

How To Foster Mutual Respect

Here are some tips on how to foster mutual respect. I like to think of these as my “Grandparent Rules”:

Stay Calm and Forgive the Customer

Understand that you do this job every single day. The customer buys a car every 2-6 years. This is far more stressful for them than it is for you. I’ve had plenty of customers come into the negotiation with walls up a mile high, throwing insults and acting disinterested in what I have to offer. I’ve also watched those walls come crumbling down when I meet their negative attitude with understanding and respect.

This is similar to treating a grandparent. You understand that they might have “backward” views. You stay patient with them because they deserve your respect.

Offer Amenities

You wouldn’t have a job without your customers. Always remember who serves who. Treat them to snacks and beverages. Make a show of respecting them.

You would get your grandparent a drink without asking. You would offer snacks. Do the same for your customers.

Slow Down

People think that talking fast makes you sound smart. When dealing with customers, you need to slow down. Print out offers in large font. Explain everything that they ask about. It is not unreasonable to explain the idea of “interest” or “tax and registration” to a customer. 

When explaining an iPad to your grandparent, you would slow down. Treat reviewing your deals/offers like explaining an iPad to a grandparent.

Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #2: Demonstrated Desire to Sell

I can see this idea being tough to understand at first.

Remember that a deal is a mutually agreeable solution. Both parties get something out of it. The customer gets a car; the dealership gets a sale.

Next, understand that the reason your store discounts is to incentivize a quicker sale. 

Therefore, for a customer to get a fair price, the dealership needs to want to sell them a car.

You are the dealership’s representative. If you seem disinterested, tired, frustrated, or aloof, your customer is going to question how much you genuinely want to sell them the vehicle. The customer will then wonder how “fair” you are pricing a car if you don’t care if you sell the car.

I implore you to perk up. Drink some coffee and remember why you came to work today. When you are sitting across the customer, they should have a distinct impression that you will do anything to sell this car. This type of attitude makes any deal you offer much sweeter, as the customer believes you when you tell them an offer is fair.

Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #3: Agreement on Product

Customers are anxious about the price. It’s the singular focus for many customers, which means that it will be your job to bring the conversation back to the product.

car sales tips closing a car deal can involve difficult conversations

let’s talk

Here is a funny conversation I’ve had multiple times with customers:

Customer: “Thanks for the test drive. Can you give me a quote?”

Salesperson: “Oh ok, yes sure, no problem. Come to my desk and we can talk numbers.”

This salesperson has not reaffirmed that this car is the right car!

Let’s look at the alternative:

Customer: “Thanks for the test drive. Can you give me a quote?”

Andrei: “Sure! We are happy to give you a quote. Is this the exact car that works for you?”

Customer: “Uh, no. We want a black car with the upgraded sound system.”

Andrei: “Sounds great, let’s find a car that matches closest to what you are looking to buy.”

Simple right? 

There are very few reasons ever to work numbers with a customer until you’ve selected the vehicle that fits what they are looking for.

Agreement on Product: Addendum

Now, you may think that the above tip #3 was overly simplified, and I wouldn’t blame you. That said, the framework gives us perspective for the very important addendum I’ll add.

Here is a common workflow at a dealership that has a large inventory (not all inventory at the central location):

  1. Customer states desire for a test drive
  2. Salesperson finds a car similar to that of the desired specification (Configuration A)
  3. Customer drives, and during the drive refines what they are looking for (from experience)
  4. Customer asks to work numbers
  5. Salesperson sits with the customer, finds a car in inventory that fits best for new desired configuration (Configuration B)
  6. Negotiation
  7. Deal or No Deal

Now, I understand the logic here. It’s often impossible to find the perfect car for a customer before the drive, since before the drive customers will often be unclear on exactly what they want. 

That being said, the salesperson often won’t show the customer “Configuration B” before working numbers. I see this as a missed opportunity.


During the negotiation, mastering pacing can be a useful skill.

Here is a common conversation flow during negotiation:

Salesperson: Thanks for your patience. I have the adjusted numbers for you, applying your AAA discount and the improved interest rate.

Customer: Ok, thanks. I think the finance is still off the table, but this lease looks like it’s getting close to what we are looking for. Let’s see if we can firm up the numbers on this lease configuration.

At this point, the salesperson will often say this:

Salesperson: Got it. What exactly are you trying to get to?


Salesperson: Understood… I think we are already discounting heavily and I doubt there is any room left, but I can ask.

Rather than this, I think that when this is a better flow:

Salesperson: Thanks for your patience. I have the adjusted numbers for you, applying your AAA discount and the improved interest rate.

Customer: Ok, thanks. I think the finance is still off the table, but this lease looks like it’s getting close to what we are looking for. Let’s see if we can firm up the numbers on this lease configuration.

Salesperson: Fantastic! Sounds like we are close to a deal, and that is very exciting. Now, we haven’t seen this exact car, would you mind if I go grab it so we can see it before we walk through the final numbers?

Almost always the customer will oblige. Not only does this take the pressure off the situation, but it also allows you to show the customer the exact car that they are contemplating the purchase of. That’s an excellent thing. It’s hard to spend hundreds of dollars a month on a car, and it’s tough to decide to do that before ever actually seeing the car!

Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #4: Back and Forth

My old sales manager revealed to me his secret when working deals with family members:

“You know, I am going to take care of them, no matter what. That being said, over the last 20 years I have had family members, close and distant, repeat the same pattern. I present a price (our best), and they ask if it’s the best I can do. That’s so common I’ve started just leaving a little room whenever I work a deal with a family member. That way, when inevitably their question comes, I get to be the hero”

  • Sales Manager

That quote speaks to just how ingrained in the culture the back and forth of negotiation is.

So I advise, you no matter how much you like a customer, no matter how much you get along, always leave some room.


Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #5: Staying Calm

It’s your responsibility to be the calm one during a negotiation.

This is your job. The flow of conversation, the pacing of the offers, and the feeling the customer leaves with are all your responsibility.

I touched on this in a previous article, and it bears repeating here:

For help, I reach out to the Calm app on my iPhone. I love the Calm app, and I use it every day to start my day. Starting with a guided 10-minute sit allows me to get my mind calm, and brings me into work mode with momentum.

Mindfulness practice is evolving in the public eye. As more and more people find the benefits to be stark and obvious, the “voodoo”/”magic” preconceptions have faded. I strongly suggest you look into a mindfulness practice.

It’s not just about mutual respect (see #1). It’s about the ability for you to do this job, negotiating with customers who do not negotiate for a living. Every day, without going crazy.

Who is Calm?

Why do customers get emotional? Why do they write bad reviews? Why do some raise their voice and call you names?

It’s because they can’t stay calm.

Show them how it’s done. Stay calm in the storm.

Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #6: A Feeling of Finality and Authority

“Sounds like we got a deal. Just throw in those all weather mats and a mug for my wife”

  • Literally Everyone

Remember Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal #4? The need to leave room for the “back and forth” that customers (even some of your family members) expect?

This is part of that. 

When negotiating, the customer wants to have the final word.

You need to be understanding of their desire for a “feeling of finality.” Cater to it. 

The Manager’s Word

This is where the manager’s word can come into play. At the end of the negotiation, there are some customers who expect a “final offer” from the sales manager. This is the same to them as the “final boss” of a video game. There is finality to getting to the head boss, and having them give you an offer.

That’s why a sales manager can come out to be the “closer.” They aren’t doing anything special necessarily; it’s their gravitas that lends power to the closing offer.

Here’s the (somewhat rough) Youtube video I made about this exact idea last year, which I think is a worthy inclusion to this article (“Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal”):

In the video, I encourage salespeople to close their deals. Although I agree with that idea still, there is some value in appealing to management to close your deal. Now you should understand why it might work. 

Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal: Review of the Tips

  1. Mutual Respect
  2. Demonstrated Desire to Sell
  3. Agreement On Product
  4. Back And Forth
  5. Staying Calm
  6. A Feeling of Finality and Authority

These are the six things every salesperson needs to close deals. If you can be a respectful salesperson with a demonstrated desire to sell, most of the other four tips should come naturally. If you can master all six together, you will have taken everything from this article, “Car Sales Tips Closing a Car Deal.”

Above all else, be respectful and determined. Keep learning.