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Building value for the highly informed shopper

We have always said that the number one job of the salesperson is "Selection". By this, we mean that everything we do with the client or for the client is designed to help them get the best vehicle choice for their specific situation. That's why in training we focus so much time and effort in developing strong Interview skills. When we are skilled at asking the best questions we can understand: the client's needs, lifestyle, what's changed, and what is it about their current vehicle that no longer fits for them. With this understanding, we can then add value in our service by matching the best vehicle choice to their needs. Many times we have a better choice for them than the one they first asked about.

This is true even in today's environment of easy access to information. Our typical shopper is now spending 11+ hours of online research before we ever see or hear from them. This trend is reality and there's little point in debating whether it is a good or bad development. The easy access to information means that many clients are "starting" with a much shorter short-list of vehicles they want to try. There are all kinds of evidence of how this shorter shopping list results in fewer dealer visits and mathematically higher closing ratios - so far so good. When they actually do contact you or show up at the dealership you can have a lot more confidence that they are further into the decision making process - closer to being able to say yes!
Now does this mean that by having all this access to information that they become expert at matching their needs to the exact model and option configurations to best suit them? Is that pre-owned vehicle that they landed on actually the best value for them? Bottom line; to make the best Selection and feel confident about their choice, they still benefit from our professional service. We just have to get them to accept our help.

Let's start by understanding right away if they are a highly informed shopper or not. If they have done a lot of research and landed at your place we need to respect that hard work that they have already done - not disregard it and try to force them into our traditional buying process. How do we find out? Just ask! "Have you seen a vehicle on our website that you wanted to look at today?”
If they have: “Oh that’s a great choice; that on-line research will save you a lot of time. Come with me, we’ll see if it is still available.”

We still want to have an Interview process because that is the only way we can know if the vehicle they are looking at meets their needs or is the best choice you have. But our Interview with the highly informed shopper has a different focus. Instead of asking lots of questions to understand them and their needs so WE can select the vehicle, the order is reversed. They have selected a vehicle. That's the starting point. Our job is to confirm that their selection is the best one. Again, how do we get them to accept our help? Make it all about them.

Try this: "Mark can I make a suggestion that will help you feel really confident about your choice?  Ok here’s what I’ll do for you: I’ll ask you a few quick questions to make sure that the vehicle, options, and equipment matches your needs perfectly. Can I ask; if I know of a vehicle that is better equipped or a better value than the one you have chosen would you want me to let you know about that?”

Now it makes sense for them to answer some questions and it just feels like great service.

With their agreement: “Ok great, you reviewed the Corolla models on-line; which features and equipment were a really good match to your needs? What made you decide on the Hatch versus the Sedan models?” “Oh that makes sense; is there anything else around family needs that we need to think about?” “What things about your current car are you hoping that the Corolla will do much better?”
This approach accelerates the Interview process but still gives us and them confidence in the vehicle selection, builds mental ownership, and gets us closer to the "yes".