How to Sell More Cars at a Dealership9 min read

It's not that long a road to learn how to sell more cars at a dealership
Time to get started!

The Responsible Party

First things first. This article is going to focus on how to sell more cars at a dealership with the customers you already have. The alternative, selling more cars at a dealership from new leads will be a future article.

You make your own way in car sales. The ultimate deciding factor in your success (assuming you’ve selected a decent dealer) is you.

Chuck the Closer

About 2 years ago we all got notice of a new guy coming to our store. Chuck was tall, loud, and dressed in a boxy gray suit. He was a bit bowed legged and introduced himself gregariously to everyone in the store.

Chuck was replacing a few salespeople that had washed out the month before. It quickly became clear that his personality was going to be a bit abrasive. Some said he had too big of smile. His voice was too booming. Everyone figured he was going to turn off our luxury clientele. He didn’t have the soft touch. His jokes were loud. His arms flailed when he talked. He wasn’t classy. No way he would make it.

Nope. Chuck crushed it. He worked his butt off, took every customer he could, and introduced himself with energy. He knew the product and made a connection with people. Chuck liked the customers and he liked himself.

The point is that Chuck reinforced one of my favorite car sales mantras: “This ain’t rocket science”.

car sales isn't rocket science
It’s not rocket science

Chuck lasted about 4 months at our store. He made about $10k per month with no repeat or referral customers. No leads. He ended up leaving because of family complications.

You don’t need much to crush it, especially if you control for the foundational elements. Your store needs to be functional, you need inventory. Your product needs to be good. You need to have management that wants to make deals. You need parking spots. Other than that, you are in control.

Chuck’s Basic Skill Set

Chuck isn’t hard to emulate.

Here is what Chuck had in spades, the basics that we won’t dive too deep in to. These are simple enough to just mention:

  1. Knowledge: Chuck knew his stuff. Chuck knew the product, Chuck knew the competition. Doesn’t matter if you sell cars, vegetables or software. A salesperson is a product specialist. Again, not rocket science. Just know your product.
  2. Interest: Chuck liked people. He asked open ended questions. He wanted to get to know who he was talking to. His listening skills with customers were top notch.
  3. Passion: Chuck had no qualms about being a car salesperson. He wasn’t shy. Not shy at all. He had fun at work and it was infectious for his customers.
  4. Connection: These three things above? They worked with customers. Customers connected with Chuck. Over a few hours they grew close to him. Trusted him. More often than not they bought from him.

The X-Factor

So, after those basics, what sets someone apart?

A good poker played doesn’t get any more good hands than a bad poker player. They aren’t luckier. They just know what to do with the hands they are dealt.

Playing your Hand

In this edition of mixing metaphors, the customer you take is the hand you are dealt.

First things first. You need to be able to read the hand you have. The idea of being able to “tell a buyer” is not some voodoo magic that you need to go to school for.

how to sell more cars at a dealership isn't voodoo
not rocket science, also not voodoo

You just need to keep an eye out for the signs.

“We got a live one” – Buying Signs

One of the most important parts of sales is knowing when to go for a sale. Is now the time? Or should I wait and just build rapport.

It’s a lot like dating. People want you to be interested. They want to know that you will put the work in. They want you to know when they are ready to move forward!

If a customer is potentially buying today, a good salesperson will spot it.

spotting buyers is one of the best ways how to sell more cars at a dealership
are you paying attention?

Here is a list of buying signs you should start looking for, starting with simple ones:

  1. They drive in to the dealer in a car that is detailed and empty. They have a title in their hand (starting simple, I know)
  2. They drive in to the dealer in a same-brand car. Drive an old Toyota into a new Toyota car lot
  3. They have printouts of the car they want to see
  4. They have visited other same brand dealers today
  5. They called in and made an appointment for a specific stock number
  6. They seem nervous but excited
  7. They brought their family or friends with them
  8. They are on the lot circling around a car, looking at it intently and pointing
  9. They walk onto the sales floor from service with a “customer pay” RO in hand
  10. They know all the option names (“I think I’m looking for a… Premium Plus Technology Package with Sports Seats, in Teak Brown”)

Now, for most of these you simply need to use your eyes. A few you need to be able to count and listen. If a customer is doing any of those (especially if more than one), it’s probably a deal if you play your hand right.

Example of a Deal Ready to Happen

Customers have a pace they like to move. You can move them a bit faster than their standard speed, but deviate too much and you will turn them off.

Do you start to see the excitement building, eyes widening, lots of specific questions? Just keep the pace. Pay attention! I’ve watched customers ask specific questions that the salespeople completely missed. One recent example:

“So how many miles does this exact car have on it”

I’ve watched the sales person respond with:

“Oh I don’t know, everything gets test driven”

Without realizing that the customer was expressing interest in this exact car! They are thinking about buying and you just completely missed it.

Let’s flip it, and talk non-buying signs:

  1. They walk into the dealership and loudly proclaim “I’m buying a car today, who is looking to sell me one” (this will happen, these people are 99% huge wastes of time)
small child covering his face
the most annoying guy

That’s just about the only important one you need to look out for. We all hate that guy.

“Ready”

There are different types of buyers and they all take different amounts of time to be “ready”. A important distinction you need to keep track of is how spontaneous your customers seem. How quickly are they going to flip the switch and become ready to buy?

If a customer is spontaneous they will switch from being “non-ready” to “ready” quickly. Often they are waiting for the situation to feel serendipitous.

Creating a Serendeipitous Environment

When things are flowing easily and all objections are finding their solutions, you have a serendipitous environment (SE for short). The SE is defined by the feeling that “things are meant to be”.

a picture of a some people eating on a cabana
making a situation feel right

If you answer customer’s objections and requirements with easy, thoughtful solutions, you have created an SE.

If you know your inventory and match the customers desires to a best fit car quickly and efficiently, you have created an SE.

If you are calm and collected and have a solution to every bump in the road, you have created an SE

Short Story

Two weeks ago, Sandeep came into the dealer. He had heard of the Audi Q5 and wanted to see it in person. He meets Chuck, who is happy and excited to meet him. They drive the car. Sandeep wants one, but:

  1. He liked Black exterior, but it was not in stock.
  2. He wanted to finance, but was on a VISA
  3. He wants to buy today, but his kids are hungry.

Chuck knows that he has to create a SE.

Although they don’t have a Black exterior car in stock, Chuck has been paying attention to the dealer trades and knows they have a Black car incoming to the dealer.

Although Sandeep has a Visa, Chuck knows that the finance department have a simple one page guide on how to get him approved without credit. Chuck has asked the pertinent questions (full time employee? visa term?) during the test drive and so can handle this with no problem.

Sandeep’s kids are still hungry. Chuck asks Sandeep’s kids what kind of food they like, and they respond “pizza!” in unison.

picture of pizza
Sandeep’s kids yelled “pizza!”

Easy fix, Chuck has his sales manager order a pizza to the store for them.

If Chuck can follow the plot of the sale and overcome hiccups smoothly, he will create a SE.

The customers are walking into a store looking to be sold a car. They want you to be excited, they want you to be knowledgeable. They want you to listen, and they want to buy a car and move on with their life.

Most of all, they want you to problem solve.

The Last Key of the SE

The last key part of creating a serendipitous environment is to give the customers a reason to buy today.

Always have a reason that today is a great day to buy.

I touched on this in this previous article.

The Sales Relationship is a Relationship

In every relationship, communication is key. Communication allows you to know what the other person is thinking. Sounds like magic, but we do it every day.

Can you read the signs that your customers are putting out?

If a customer stresses that this is their first time looking at cars and that they only buy when their wife is with them then please don’t hammer down on working a deal. Just build a relationship. Plant the seeds of an upcoming sale to get them excited. Don’t try and close the deal right away.

If a customer has no intention of buying and test drives four cars in one day, can you guess how many salespeople will have tried to hard to close the deal that day?

If you are the one guy that respected their time and provided value then when they are looking to buy they will be drawn back to you.

If you don’t have a good feel for where the customer is at in their head, a write up is a good tool. The write up can let us gauge interest, but my goal is to have you gauge it during the whole process, not just while working numbers.

REVIEW: How to Sell More Cars at a Dealership

You need to be a master of communication in order to maximize your sales at a dealership. You need to know how to create a serendipitous environment, how to play your hand, and how to know when a customer is ready to go.

Let me know below if you have any thoughts on this article!