Your list of sales questions to ask customers must address their needs and concerns to facilitate a successful sale.
You know your dealership’s inventory inside and out. You’re passionate about selling cars and you love to share that enthusiasm with every prospective buyer that walks through your doors. As far as you’re concerned, you are good at what you do — after all, the sales numbers don’t lie, right?
The numbers reflect how many cars you sell, but they don’t tell you how many people ultimately made the right purchase. Numbers are indicative of your ability to push product and persuade customers into choosing a specific vehicle, but not of your capacity to really listen to the customer’s needs.
Research has shown that the average salesperson talks over 81 percent of the time in a selling situation. Talking that much is completely unnecessary. In fact, talking less may ultimately put more money in your pocket. The key is knowing the right car sales questions to ask customers — questions that allow you to get to know them, their goals, potential issues, and needs.
Yes, asking questions does mean you’ll be doing some talking, but you want to ask questions that encourage the customer to open up, share their feelings, and hopefully, talk more than you do.
Essential car sales questions to weave into natural conversation with customers
Having a solid arsenal of sales questions to ask customers in the back of your mind will always help you stay on track. Don’t, however, feel obligated to ask all of them every single time you talk to a customer; every conversation is different. And finally, these questions should be worked into a conversation naturally. You don’t want to have a potential customer sit at your desk while you awkwardly grill them with a round of 20 questions.
- Hi, I’m [insert your name here]. What’s your name? (Remember the names of potential customers and use them throughout the course of the conversation to personalize the interaction.)
- What brings you in today?
- May I ask why you are thinking about buying a new car?
- Are there any specific makes or models you are interested in?
- What features does your current vehicle have that you would still like to have in your new one?
- What do you dislike about your current vehicle?
- What are the top 3 things you’d love to see in your new vehicle?
- Will you be trading in your current vehicle?
- Who is going to drive the vehicle most of the time and for what purpose (business, pleasure, family)?
- What is your timeline? (Buying ASAP vs. browsing and waiting)
- Are you planning to pay cash or finance the vehicle?
- Did you finance your last vehicle? What was your monthly payment?
Of course, these questions are jumping off points for a larger conversation. When you ask a question, you wait for a response, and then you ask a follow-up question to better understand what the customer is trying to tell you. For example, if you asked the customer “May I ask why you are thinking about buying a new car?” and they responded with “My husband got into a pretty bad accident last week and our car was totaled,” you wouldn’t just move on to “Oh okay, are there any specific makes or models you are interested in?”
Instead, you would be a human being in a conversation with another human being and say something like, “Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that! Is he okay?” If she seems to want to talk about the accident a bit, then be an active listener and participant in the conversation. It will naturally find its way back to the task at hand — buying a new car — and she will likely trust and like you more now that you’ve shown an interest in her family’s wellbeing after a traumatic event.
Some common follow-up car sales questions to ask customers during an exchange include:
- Why is that?
- Oh? (Short but sweet. Sometimes it’s all the customer needs to elaborate)
- So what you’re saying is _____?
- That’s really interesting. Can you tell me a bit more about ____?
- Can you give me an example?
Use some questions to ask customers in the middle of the sales process. You may think a sale is going well, but they may still have questions in the back of their mind they feel nervous to ask. You could ask them:
- Do you have any concerns?
- What are your thoughts so far?
- Is there any reason you wouldn’t want to move forward with buying this car?
No matter what questions you ask customers throughout the sales process, remember to always be authentic. Many customers walk into dealerships with preconceived notions about salespeople, so by simply being yourself, you will likely disarm them much quicker and set the stage for a productive conversation — and hopefully, sale.