Selling in the zone

Selling in the zone


Recently, I came across some old notes I took at a Half-A-Car training meeting about 12 years ago. The notes were centered on being focused and prepared to sell, a state of mind that some call being “ selling in the zone.” There are some concepts that are timeless, and, even after more than a decade later, these stand the test of time.

Being in the zone is about more than just focus and experience, it is actually a different state of mind. A study in 2008 by scientists from Perdue University and the University of Virginia surveyed athletes who were said to be “in the zone.” Those athletes who were continually successful saw the world differently. The researchers asked golfers to estimate the size of the holes they were hitting into by pointing to various sized holes on a poster after their shot. Golfers who were playing successfully consistently guessed that the holes were larger than the golfers who were losing.

So what does this information mean for the automotive industry?

It means that we need to do more than just prepare, more than have experience, and focus on more than only the sale. We need to see the world from a more positive place. We need to strive above what we see as clearly possible, to envision the world beyond the tiny task of selling. And we need to help our customers to do the same. All of that comes by using what I like to call TLC: Thinking Like the Customer.


We all know there are a few basic questions customers ask themselves before they walk in to see you: What is it? How does it work? What’s in it for me? How much is it? To get in the zone we need to see these questions as an opportunity to build value in the product, the dealership and in ourselves.

 In The Zone

What is it? The obvious answer is: a vehicle. But what else is it? For your customer it could be a chance to take their family camping or it could be the truck they need to move their construction business to the next level.


How does it work? Showing a vehicle isn’t just about rambling off a list of features. Customers can look at a brochure to see that list for themselves. You need to help them to see the potential that list has in their world. Imagine getting the kids ready for school, missing the bus and having to take a cold car quickly out of the driveway. How much better is that experience when you can start your car from inside the house while they are getting coats and boots on? It isn’t just an auto-start button, it’s a winter weather kid-warming button.


What’s in it for me? It isn’t all about the money. While everyone wants a good deal, it isn’t necessarily price alone that will give them the sense of achievement. It could be the thrill of driving a sporty car, the status symbol that helps them define themselves in their inner circle or it could simply be a way to get safely to their job.


How much is it? Finally, your customer takes all this information and processes it to determine if it is worth the monetary price. If you have built the bigger picture around your car, shown them how this vehicle will expand their world, then you’ve already sold the value of the car – you just need to remind them of that as you go along the negotiation process. You aren’t selling a car – you are selling a bigger world, a more positive experience and possibilities for their future. Help them reach the zone with you and you’ll all leave with more than your expectations.