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Automotive Dealership Sales

Tap into Customer Emotions to Sell More Cars

You may be familiar with the saying, “Never let your emotions overpower your intelligence.”  This advice is smart and logical, but how many people follow it?

When it comes to car buying, not very many. Emotions often take center stage.  

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing inherently bad about putting emotions first. Consider a couple buying a new car because they are expecting a baby. Or parents buying a car for their teenager who’s going off to college. These are big, emotional decisions.

Unfortunately, many salespeople focus on selling vehicle features instead of meeting the emotional needs of customers. The typical qualification process is often dismal, with questions like “How are you today?” and “Are you looking for a new car today?”

It’s natural for salespeople to slip into the path of least resistance. However, tapping into customer emotions can help you sell more cars. Here’s how to get into an emotions-first mindset:

1. Operate as a trusted advisor. A study by Urban Science in conjunction with Harris Poll found that 81% of shoppers trust the information they receive from a franchised dealership, and 72% are influenced to work with a dealer based on staff experience. The salesperson is becoming a trusted advisor. That’s what our entire industry has hoped for. When you approach customers, be mindful that they are seeking expertise and vehicle knowledge.

2. Know that most buyers are undecided at the beginning of the shopping process. According to Autotrader, 6 out of 10 customers are open to multiple vehicle options when they first begin the shopping process. Uncover the emotions driving a purchase and you have a lot of opportunities to steer them towards the right vehicle on your lot for their needs.

3. Answer the customer’s questions first. We all know that today’s shoppers go online to do initial research before they pick up the phone or show up on your lot. A little bit of research often leads to a lot of questions. Answer every question before you ask for the appointment or suggest a specific vehicle. This shows you’re there to meet their needs, not simply to sell another vehicle.

4. Focus on vehicle benefits, not features. Once you’ve answered every question and know the driving motivation behind a purchase, don’t fall back on selling vehicle features. Customers want to know how a vehicle will benefit them. Will it keep a baby safe? Will it help a teenager spend less money on gas? You get the idea.

5. Talk about how a car feels. The way a car feels to drive is important. Customers have to enjoy driving a car as much as they enjoy looking at it. Talk about how a reverse camera will instill a feeling of confidence. Or how plush seats and a smooth ride spark joy and happiness during a long commute.

Now that you’re focused on uncovering emotional needs, you can fine-tune your needs assessment process. A solid process is key to uncovering what is truly driving a customer’s purchase. Here is a sample of questions to ask:

  • Are you replacing a current vehicle or buying a second vehicle?
  • Are you buying a vehicle for someone else?
  • What’s important to you in this new vehicle? What specific needs do you have?
  • What have you looked at so far? What did you like/dislike about that vehicle?
  • What’s your buying time-frame?
  • How much are you looking to spend?

Put on your investigator hat and follow up on every answer. Buying a car for a teenager going away to college? Okay, great. How often will your child be driving home? Will they have covered parking? Will they be paying for their own gas?

Keep in mind that most people don’t mind talking about their needs. In fact, it will probably be refreshing and welcomed. This is how you get customers to paint a picture of what they want. This makes it much easier to sell them the vehicle they need.

For many buyers, a vehicle is an emotional purchase. Tap into those emotions with a solid needs assessment process that uncovers the customers’ why, and you’ll sell more vehicles.