Zeroing In On Your Customers’ Wants and Needs

On this week’s episode of Straight Talk, David Lewis of David Lewis & Associates talks about how to discover your customers’ true wants and needs by asking the right questions.


Hello, and welcome to another episode of Straight Talk, I am your host, David Lewis, and I want to thank you for taking the time to join me for this week’s broadcast.  Straight Talk is the program where I give you straight answers and tips for increasing your success and building a great career in retail automotive sales.

On today’s show I am going to give you some straight talk on how to discover your customers true wants and needs by paying close attention to what they say during your initial time together.  By asking the right questions that are going to reveal their true desires, and avoiding those questions and statements that create pressure and work against you in the sales process, you can release the customers defensive posture to insure they have an enjoyable car shopping experience.

The first thing you need to know is that most customers are fearful to at least some degree about talking with a car salesperson and a dealership.  They often have preconceived ideas of what to expect that give them a negative perspective before they even meet you for the first time.  This fear makes them defensive and, in some cases, they will actually try to avoid your initial attempts to make a connection with them.

What this means to you as a salesperson is that your first and most important job is to lower their defensive posture so that you can begin to discover what their purchasing goals are and what it is they are looking for in a vehicle.

This means asking no questions other than those that are required to get the information you need to help them.  It also means that your first goal is to create a perception of you in the customer’s mind that is positive and starts the process of getting them to like you.

Some customers may present you with Obstacles even before you get a chance to introduce yourself properly or do a proper Met & Greet.  They might immediately say they are just looking, or that they are not going to buy anything that day.  They may even ask if they can look around by themselves just to see what you have on the lot and be left alone to do so.

These kinds of obstacles are driven by fear and how you respond to them will determine whether the customer feels comfortable dealing with you.  Your goal is to come across as unique and inspiring and different from what they expect.  When you do this, you catch them pleasantly off guard and surprise them with how different you are from other salespeople or from what they expect a car salesperson to be like with a car shopper.

That can start right from the initial Meet & Greet where everything you do and everything you say will make some kind of impression, either positive or negative, that lets the customer decide whether or not they will feel comfortable dealing with you.

Too often car salespeople rush this process and they come across just like every other car salesperson the customer may have spoken to before, or they confirm the negative things the customer has heard about car salespeople.   If you do this it will activate their defensive posture, keeping them at a distance where they will resist your sales process and refuse to cooperate.

This is especially true if you are trained to ask questions that are unnecessary at this step of the process and create pressure on the customer.  Questions about budget, credit worthiness, purchase timelines, trade-in values or the customer’s ability to purchase a vehicle are all unnecessary for this part of the sales process.

All of these questions are designed to control the customer and will work against you in gaining their confidence that you are someone who is trying to help them achieve their goal for coming to your dealership in search of a new vehicle.

Most people believe that car salespeople only care about selling them a car today, and that they will do and say anything they can to make that happen.  That kind of perception is hard to reverse once you start down the trail of pressure questions or trial closes testing the customers commitment or ability to buy a car that day.

In truth, all you really need to know at the initial point of your sales process is whether they are looking for new or used car, what brand of vehicle they are looking for and what style they want in the vehicle they plan to purchase.  After that you merely walk them in the direction of where the lowest priced vehicles are parked in the category of vehicles they are looking to purchase.

As they walk through your inventory, observe their body language and facial expressions and answer any questions they might have about features, benefits and options.  In most cases they will look at the window sticker first and then gravitate up the line of styles and prices, moving toward the cars that have what they are looking for and are in a price range they find to be reasonable.

Don’t be afraid of the Obstacles they may bring up in the process of responding to the questions or presenting specific information about the vehicles they see.  In fact, you should expect them and even look forward to them, as they represent the kinds of information that will help you understand what the customer does and does not want in a vehicle.

Too many salespeople fear obstacles, thinking they are difficult to answer or hard to overcome.  They sometimes take them personally or think they are an indication that the customer is not a serious buyer.  This can mean that some salespeople are not properly trained to handle obstacles and so they try to avoid them whenever they can.

The truth is, a customer’s obstacles can tell you a lot about what is important to them and what kind of things they have a problem with in what you are saying or what they are seeing.  Their Obstacles can reveal their likes and dislikes about the color, the interior, the options or the size and style of the vehicle.  All of these things are important to take note of because they indicate the kinds of things you want to emphasize or avoid in your presentation during the selection process.

If you spend your time listening and observing the customer more than telling and selling and pitching what you are trying to sell, you stand a better chance of gaining the kind of knowledge that will help you put the customer in the right car they will want to purchase.

In today’s Internet driven marketplace, when a customer comes to your dealership it is very likely they have been to your website first.  They already know what you sell, and may have scoured through your inventory online and are just coming to narrow down the features and benefits they are looking for and/or have a chance to drive the vehicle they want to purchase.

Since it is a well-known fact that most people don’t like to go to a car dealership when they need a new car, the fact that they are there means they are probably serious about purchasing a car.  What they don’t know about is you as a salesperson and how they feel about the dealership in general.

By being unique, different and inspiring, and by focusing on the things that really help the customer with their decision-making process, you stand a great chance of earning their business and possibly gaining a loyal customer for life.

By avoiding all of the typical things car customers expect and don’t like in the car sales process, you can distinguish yourself from other salespeople and from the perception most people have about the car salesperson in general.  If you can get them to like you and your unique personality, you are already halfway there to getting them to buy a car from you.

Well that’s all the time we have for today.  I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together and that you have gained some knowledge that can help you build your success to a higher level.  Be sure to check out our website at to check out our training curriculum and schedules.

If you have any questions or comments, or you would like a free copy of any of my books, don’t hesitate to contact me at  I am happy to send you a set of my books complimentary.  Just email me your name and where you would like the books shipped.

So, until next time, have a great week selling cars.