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Selling is discovery: Determining what your customer needs [+5 questions to avoid]

Ultimately, getting to the bottom of what the customer needs is a conversation. Here are a few tips for naturally getting to what potential car buyers are looking for.

Even all-star sales team members can experience hiccups when helping car buyers find the best vehicles for them. You may have a customer who knows what they want, but pricing may be a significant limiting factor. On the other hand, another customer might have the money to spend but still may not know the type of vehicle they’re looking for. 

The more effectively and efficiently you can key into what customers are looking for, the easier it’ll be to secure the sale while producing an exceptional customer experience. Here are tips on how to determine what your customer needs: 

Tips for Finding Out What Your Customer Needs: 

While your ultimate goal is to sell them a car, how you get there will help to create a smooth ride. Ultimately, getting to the bottom of what the customer needs is a conversation. Here are a few tips for naturally getting to what potential car buyers are looking for: 

Get to Know Them – And Their Story 

What is the context for why they are there? What is leading them to seek out a car? Starting here can help you set up a foundation for a productive relationship. It may be tempting to start the conversation with discussions about price, payment preferences, and even features, but beginning with a personal touch may yield more information. 

For example, starting with a question like “What is leading to you looking for a car now?” can give you valuable information. You may find out that they are welcoming a new addition to the family and need more seating space or that they just got a new job and need a reliable vehicle to get to work.

Pair Features and Aesthetics with Their Needs and Feelings 

Ideally, customers are looking for a car that not only fits their needs but also one they feel good in. You can help them make a decision they can feel confident about. For example, you might have an individual who wants an all-wheel drive vehicle to engage in camping and off-roading experiences. 

You can connect the features of this type of car to this hobby. Discussing things like tire size, suspension, and even off-road navigation features can help them visualize how they’ll feel behind the wheel. This gives them valuable information about the car and acknowledges their feelings and needs.

Have All The Essential Information, Or Know Where to Find It 

Used vehicles will come with a history that customers will likely want to know about. Having that information ready can increase trust with customers. However, if you don’t have the answers to their questions, feel free to say that you don’t know but can quickly follow up on that information. 

You don’t have to give a quick answer you aren’t sure about.

Additionally, even for new vehicles, having knowledge about various specifications, especially advanced technology-based features, can show customers you’re prepared and can walk them through any questions.

Five Customer Qualifying Questions to Avoid

While there are many ways to start the car buyer conversation, there are some inquiries you’ll either want to avoid or place at a later part of the process.

  • How much do you want to pay per month? – This isn’t a total “don’t ask,” but rather an “ask later” question. You want to spend the start of your time speaking with customers to get a feel for their needs and wants. Discussing price later can decrease feelings of overwhelm or apprehension and help you establish a connection first.
  • Can I help you? – The last thing you want to do is ask a “yes or no” question. You want to ask questions that get you to the next one. Avoid inquiries that stop the flow of conversation. 
  • Would an X discount or X incentive impact your decision? – Hypothetical discussions are not always the most productive ways to get to the endgame. Questions like these can make customers feel like they have to make a quick decision without having all details, which can have a negative effect.
  • Do you want to buy a car today? – This is another “yes or no” question that derails the conversation. Someone might not be sure, and much like the previous question may feel pressured to make a quick decision they aren’t sure about.
  • What specific brand or model are you looking for? – This could be a question to include later in the process. However, you don’t want to limit your customers to a specific brand or model. The most important thing is that their needs are met. Starting the conversation by focusing on one particular model could limit what they’re looking for. 

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, the experience of determining customer needs is all about starting and carrying on a conversation that reveals the information you need. Asking open-ended questions, avoiding yes/no inquiries, and focusing on allowing customers to share their stories with you can enable you to create an excellent customer experience.

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Chanell Turner
Chanell Turner
Chanell Turner is a contributing writer and investigative journalist for CBT News.

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