Understanding Your Customer

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Darin B. George - Also by this author

Before you became an automotive sales person, you were a Customer.
How did you feel about the car purchase process? What type of research did you do? How long did it take before you decided to purchase? Did you call any dealerships for information and pricing? How many dealerships did you go to before you bought? Did you consult with your friends and family? Did you care where you purchased your new vehicle? Was the product a major concern? Was the sales person important?

When we understand ourselves as customers and how, why and what we did in a car purchase or continue to do in any type of purchase, understanding our customer becomes easy. Everything we have said and done to a salesperson are exactly what our customers are saying to us now.

Think about it. Your customers have already made the decision to look and possibly purchase a new vehicle when they enter your dealership, if of course, everything in their mind is in order. It’s your job to understand them and assist in the selection of their new vehicle, with the understanding that they have already given considerable thought towards their potential purchase long before they enter our dealership.

The following is a typical scenario of what your customers are thinking and doing before they enter your dealership. This scenario can be used for a single person, partners or small business, so just modify the husband/wife example.

1 Year to 3 Months Before the Purchase

During dinner, husband or wife mentions they should start looking for a new vehicle. The typical reasons for considering such a big decision: keeping up with the neighbors “the Jones’s”; manufactures TV advertising promotions etc; driving down the highway and seeing a beautiful new vehicle, a need and a want.

Approximately a Month Before the Purchase

The couple discusses such things as: how they will pay for their new vehicle; monthly budget (maximum); how much savings they have (cash down); and whether or not they will trade in their current vehicle. Normally people go to their bank first for a loan approval. They might research other financial options (manufacturer credit arms, leasing, etc.). The Internet is now a research tool for your customers to obtain more information, so get on it see what is happening. It is not going away.

The Night Before the possible Purchase

They decide to go to a dealership, but feel they will not buy just yet. But if they see something nice and close to what they have been considering and meet a salesperson that understands them, then they just might do it today, only if…

When The Customer Enters The Dealership

The couple tries to look like they do not need any help or that they haven’t even thought about purchasing a new vehicle. They start, say exactly the same things we use to say to car salespeople: “I’m just looking”… “We are just kicking tires”… “We don’t need any help”… “We just started looking”… “What is your best price on that car?”… “How much would you give me for my car?”… etc.

Now! Because we are professionals and understand our customers, we know why they are saying these things – they are exactly like us.

During The Selection Process

They are undecided about colors, options, etc., and become resistant. The reality about actually purchasing a vehicle is coming into focus. Emotions such as fear, doubt, hesitation and uncertainty begin to play a major role.

During the Negotiations

Some customers become distant and uneasy. But if you have done your job, then as a professional in our business does, you can confidently ask for the sale now. Negotiating is all about psychology and how you articulate every word becomes critical to the sale now. Explain everything to them and make sure every condition is clarified. Assist your customer through the process. It does not have to like going to the dentist.

SOLD - When They Come To Pick Up their New Vehicle

Take your time in the delivery process; leave the customer with a lasting impression. If you have done your job correctly and professionally, the customer will feel great about their new vehicle purchase and speak highly of you, your dealership and the manufacturer. This will lead to an excellent client base, referrals, and repeat business.

Note: You must always remember two things - your customer is at your dealership for a reason and the #1 reason people will buy from you is You.


To understand people you have to study them, read books, and listen to audio/videotapes. Here are some suggested books to read.

  1. Emotional Intelligence – Daniel Goleman
  2. 25 Habits of highly successful Salespeople – Stephan Schiffman
  3. Unlimited Power – Anthony Robbins
  4. Quantum Healing – Deepak Chopra, PhD
  5. Don’t worry, Make Money – Richard Carlson, PhD

Darin’s Wrap Up

You’ve all heard it before; we are in the greatest and biggest people business in the world. When we understand that we as salespeople are customers, then understanding our customers is easy. It’s just part of what we do for a living. The more we understand and give to our customers, then the more we will receive.

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