test drive

Internet Research Takes Out Emotion; Test Drive Puts it Back

By Mark Tewart

 In that path there are specific things that can be done to increase the likelihood of there being a nexus between emotion and logic. When emotion and logic are combined it provides the intensity to the buying momentum that moves the customer from the demo stage to the write-up stage and sale stage.

The Internet has changed shopping habits. The customer does a tremendous amount of research online and then validates the research with an in-store visit. However, in many dealerships, Internet personnel and sales people are using the online research done by the customer as an excuse to skip the demonstration phase of the process. This is a huge mistake that short-circuits the sales process.

Character, Emotion, Logic — Sale

In the days before Internet shopping, car buyers followed a path of Character-Emotion-Logic to a sale. Buyers met you and judged your character and trustworthiness, then got emotional about the vehicle and the buying excitement and then justified the emotion with logic. Today the process has been inverted. The buyer is researching and shopping online and is in a heavy logic phase first. The first contact with salesperson or Internet representative that is often now by email, text or phone is based upon logic with no emotion.  By the time they reach the dealership physically, they are still in a logic phase.

When customers are in a logic-only phase, they move into price and make decisions on the vehicle and price only. You become a commodity, selling a commodity. There is nothing to distinguish you, your dealership or even the vehicle from anything else. In this situation, you will sell fewer vehicles at lower than acceptable profits and will often have a lesser-satisfied customer when you do.  When a customer buys a car, they consider three things – Money, Me, Machine. The secret sauce in selling is the salesmanship of being able to differentiate in all three of those areas. If you don’t, you are simply an order taker.

The demonstrative drive is the perfect place to set you, your dealership and your vehicle apart from others. Let’s discuss a few specific points to make that happen. After you have made a vehicle presentation, have the customer get into the passenger side to go over some very important features, such as Navigation system etc. Turn the ignition on and have them physically go through the features as you instruct them into mental ownership.

Use Test Drive to Show Strongest Selling Points

When you are finished, begin your test drive while instructing them that you want to demonstrate some of the fantastic features and the drive of the vehicle. From a safety standpoint, it is always best that you drive off the lot first. In the first part of the drive, point out the strongest selling points and verbally explain your SDP – Specific Defining Proposition — that differentiates your dealership versus others. The best time to speak in the demo process is when you are driving. When you have completed your part of the drive, find a safe place such as parking lot and pull in, park the car, get out, go around to the passenger side, open the door and with a smile and enthusiasm, say “your turn!”

When the customer gets behind the wheel, make sure they get very comfortable with the seating position, mirrors etc. and over emphasize that you want them to be comfortable before beginning to drive. As the customer begins to drive instruct them on different routes to take that emphasizes different driving conditions. In the past, for safety reasons, dealership managers encouraged a demo route of all right hand turns in case a car broke down, they could find you. In today’s world, you have cell phones and that is no longer necessary.

The average demonstration drive is about 2 or 3 miles. This is a huge mistake. Have you ever rented a car? How did you feel when you got into a strange car? How long did it take you to get comfortable? It takes 15-20 miles to even begin to feel comfortabltest drivee! Yet, a salesperson often takes a customer on a 2-mile test drive and asks a customer to buy a $5,000 to even over $100,000 vehicle. That makes no sense! Taking a much longer test drive allows the customer to experience the car and learn it kinesthetically. This means the customer is physically learning the car and making intuitive decisions. This creates a completely different type of persuasion in the buying process from logic.

Relate to the Customer’s Needs

When the customer is driving, they are in learning mode dominant. So, if in this stage you are talking too much, it is overloading them with auditory influence. They will naturally pick one of the modes to concentrate on. It will either be listening to you or learning the car. They will either be irritated by you or not get fully comfortable with the car. 

Think back to a time you were driving at night and were looking for an address. You reached down and turned down the radio while you looked! You shut down the auditory influence to concentrate on your visual influence. It’s hard to be two dominant modes at once so let them be kinesthetic dominant by choosing words wisely.

On the demo drive, relate back to the customer, the keywords and phrases that the customer gave you during your discovery phase of the sales process. If it was safety, relate succinctly the safety features using the words safe, safely, safest, safer etc. as anchoring words that provide emotional and logical buying leverage. In other words, demonstrate what they want to buy. Everything else is superfluous. Use the demo drive to bring everything together that will provide buying momentum.

Use words, phrases and stories that provide present tense ownership. You want them to mentally see themselves as the owning and driving this vehicle. Use similar situation stories that involve you and your customers to assure the customer of making a wise decision. It also lets them know they are not making a mistake through these stories. Facts tell but stories sell!

As the customer pulls back into the dealership, if possible, have the customer pull the vehicle right next to their current one. This allows a vivid mental comparison and a reminder for the customer that he really does not want to get back into the old vehicle.

After the customer parks, do not get out of the vehicle first. If you do, the customer will follow. You are rushing through a critical moment where a customer is now beginning to justify the emotional demo journey into the justification of buying phase. Stay in the vehicle until they want to get out! Allow them to ask justification questions.

Get the Sale in Dealership, Not the Car

When the customer gets out of the vehicle, use the following questions and statements?

“What did you like most about the vehicle?”

“Is there anything you did not like?” (Find all vehicle objections before the write up phase)

“Anything you would like to change?” (Flush out objections)

“Fantastic! Let’s get you the rest of the information”

“Let’s give it a try!” (Non-threatening)

My opinion would be to avoid the customary trial questions about money at this point such as “If I could get the figures right today, could we do business.” I believe this creates massive fear, takes the customer completely out of trust and emotion and moves them into fear. You are asking the customer to say yes about the possibility about figures they have not seen. I would prefer you ask a commitment question about the car rather than the money. Leave the trial close about buying and money until you are inside the dealership — if you are going to even ask that question at all.

The demonstration drive is even more critical in the buying process in the Internet. However, there has been a steady decline in the number demonstration drives. There is even debate the demo drive is no longer necessary. However, a massive amount of data has been collected from the “The Next Up” company that shows a clear correlation of test-drives to sales percentages. Do not shortcut yourself, the customer or the experience. The difference today in the world of a transparent and online experience can be the old fashioned, “Feel behind the wheel.”

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