Car Sales


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One industry that seems to me needs to better understand “THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER” is the auto dealer industry. I think my experience is typical and I actually did a little survey a year or so ago where I went to several dealers to see how I was treated.

I know that auto dealers spend significant amounts of money training their sales staff. They bring “experts” in from away to share the latest trends and ideas. What the ones I’ve visited have failed to do is ask their Customers what they want. The experts tell the sales staff what they think the Customers need, but that has very little to do with selling cars.

Let me ask you this. When you are on a dealer’s lot has a salesman ever asked you about the car you drove in? Unlikely, but what a great place to start. We all like to talk about ourselves and our things. That would certainly put me at ease. What usually happens is the salesperson starts talking about the features of the vehicle you might be looking at. Hello? There’s this thing called the internet today where buyers can get all the info they need BEFORE they drive on the lot. If I want more information on the V6 engine that gets great gas mileage along with big torque, I’ll ask.

Another line that’s used a lot is “Are you looking to buy a car today?” As a Customer I think that’s a dumb question. You’re a car dealer. I drove into your place of business in a car. It’s likely that I have some interest in buying a car. What I want to know is can I trust you? Will the dealership do what you say it will do? I usually answer that I’m just looking, and at that point the salesperson usually disappears. The feeling I get is that if I’m not ready to buy right now, you don’t have time to fool with me. Here’s the thing. I have a vehicle that I drive around. It won’t last forever. If not today, at some point I’m going to want to replace it and you didn’t make a very good impression on me so it’s likely that I’ll replace it somewhere else.

Regardless of how the conversation goes, I’ve never had a salesperson ask for my contact information. This just blows me away. Salespeople will always give me their card and usually say something like, “When you’re ready” or the classic “When you’re serious, give me a call”. Yeah, right. You go back to your desk and sit by the phone because it’s probably going to ring any minute. You see, if you just showed a little interest in me, got my contact information, and offered to call if something special comes up, you have moved to the top of the list.

Some time ago I was prepared to trade a tractor. I had picked out the new one I wanted and there was special pricing that expired in a few months. Things changed financially and I shared that with the salesperson. All was good. From time to time I get a friendly call just to see how things are going and to let me know that there is something special coming up or in the works and my tractor is part of the program. We chat for a few minutes and I thank him for keeping me in the loop. What do you think the chances are that I’m going to look elsewhere when I’m in a position to buy that tractor? Those folks “Get It”. Here’s the kicker. When that time comes, I’ll be calling them. The sale is nearly complete before it even started. Even big businesses could learn a lot from THINKING LIKE A CUSTOMER.

Bill Packard
Your Customer Service Coach, Bill Packard was born in Camden, ME. and has lived in mid-coast Maine all his life, so far. Bill has combined starting four businesses from scratch, almost ten years as a manager in corporate America, and over fifty years as a Customer into a business to assist microbusinesses to retain a strong Customer base and add new Customers in affordable ways. offers down to earth, common sense strategies to help entrepreneurs get a handle on their business and gain the freedom they deserve and work so hard for.


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