Make Your Customers Tick

June 2010, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Glynn Rodean - Also by this author

Understanding Customer Traits and Responding Appropriately

To determine what motivates a customer to buy a vehicle, we first must identify the different things that make customers tick. Each customer has a hot button, but combinations of the following motivators are usually present in each customer’s decision-making process. For some, it’s the status they perceive they have by driving a certain vehicle, while others focus on more practical aspects of vehicles, like safety, performance or utility.

If you’re able to pinpoint and appeal to a customer’s hot-button issue while you have them on the phone, you are more likely to get them into the store. Before delving into the different hot-button topics car buyers are swayed by, let’s briefly cover how to simply identify the different kinds of people—Visual (Type A), Auditory (B) or Kinesthetic (C). Your odds of getting the customer in the store increase if you identify what type of person a customer is; this is accomplished by picking up on what he or she says and how it’s said (tone) and responding appropriately.

A visual person might say, “I can see myself driving a [type of vehicle]” and an appropriate response might be something like, “From having the opportunity to look at all of them, I can see why you would! Nice choice!” An auditory person might say, “I hear the [vehicle] is a nice car,” and a fitting response might be, “Yes, when I listen to [vehicle] owners talk about their cars,  I hear how happy they are with their purchase.”

The kinesthetic personality is more interested in just the facts on the surface, but with a Type C, it is really all about how things feel. A very effective response would be, “That is why I love working with my dealership; as your advocate, I can schedule an information day visit!”

Once you’ve determined whether a customer has the dominant traits of a Type A, B or C, you can better appeal to their hot-button issue(s), which could be any one or any combination of the following:

Status: For car buyers motivated by status, their vehicle is an extension of who they are and may contribute to a feeling of importance they derive from things like their jobs, wealth, home, etc. By validating the status a vehicle can represent, you’ll get them more excited about the prospect of a new vehicle in the driveway.

Style: Among us, there have always been those fashion-conscious customers who simply must wear the newest style of clothes and accessories, and the same is true concerning automobiles. Similar to status, some people choose their vehicle based on how it coordinates with the image they want to portray. There is an old expression that there is “no accounting for taste,” but being aware of customers’ keenness for style can help you persuade such people to set and keep an appointment.

Safety: The most important issue for some customers is the survivability of their loved ones should they be involved in a wreck. This type of customer wants high ratings for their car from organizations that do crash testing (e.g., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). They also desire engineering for safety and features in their vehicles such as reinforced panels, front passenger airbags and side-impact airbags. Have desktop evidence manuals because people want to know they’re right-on with their thinking. Relate to them, build rapport. We all can appreciate safety. Tell them why you appreciate their safety concerns and your commonality grows and their fear lessens.

Utility: Utility is an easy desire to pinpoint, as usefulness is the key factor for the choices people make regarding vehicles. The particular tasks that customers want to accomplish drive their vehicle decisions. The soccer mom or road warrior (guilty as charged), chooses an SUV to haul kids or a week’s worth of suits. New parents tend to opt for a minivan. The practical rural resident or construction worker gets a truck. Teenagers and young adults want sporty, economical four-cylinders. The young at heart choose muscle cars and sports cars. Senior citizens tend to opt for luxurious comfort and the practicality of large, four-door sedans and crossovers

Change: Some customers just get tired of the same old thing. Some simply want to experience a different type of vehicle than they had before, and some just want a newer version of the same model. A change in job or marital status could prompt the desire for a new car.

Pinpointing customers’ desires takes communication skills. That’s why I’m a firm believer in training on skills and not scripts. Make sure the people answering your phones and setting appointments have the skills to determine what type of customer is on the phone and pinpoint what is driving his or her purchase decisions. How are you being represented? Remember: People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care!

Vol. 7, Issue 4


  1. 1. Steve R. [ June 07, 2010 @ 05:18AM ]

    While the content of your blog are both correct and irrefutable the "how to's" of practical application are missing.

  2. 2. Delia [ June 08, 2010 @ 12:55PM ]

    The first and easiest step is to determine whether the prospect is male or female. Everything from there on is different in most cases. Learn what to do and not do depending on gender at


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