How You can Learn From Your Used Car Sales Fails

Find out everything you need to know to move from sales failure to selling success.

So, you’ve had another used car shopper leave the lot without buying anything. It’s been happening way too often lately and you’re not sure why.


Don’t give up! You can learn from your mistakes.


Here are some questions you should ask yourself to help figure out what you might be doing wrong so you can improve your selling skills.


Were you able to answer all their questions?

In a world where Google supplies instant answers to just about any query, buyers won’t tolerate salespeople who aren’t able to provide information about the used cars they’re selling on the spot. They also won’t do business with people that aren’t credible and haven’t earned their trust. Every time you’re unable to answer a question, do your homework and find it out. That way, you’ll never find yourself in the same situation again. While you’re at it, take time during your down time to read up about the used cars on your lot. Models are changing all the time and it’s likely you’ll learn something new about them.


Are your answers completely honest?

Unfortunately, too many salespeople still use old school puffery, exaggeration and flat out lies when they answer buyer questions and throughout the sales process. With all the information available to people today online and through social media, this is a mistake because people will be able to see through you. Being honest about a negative or mediocre aspect of a vehicle will go a long way toward helping you build credibility with customers and not losing it.


Were your answers honestly complete?

Incomplete answers are almost as bad as non-answers or dishonest ones. People can sense when you’re leaving something out. It’s a mistake to only address the positive aspects of a question and not talk about the negative. It’s likely you’ll get a follow-up question that will only force you to reveal what you left out. This makes you look less than credible and will result in a major loss of trust with shoppers.


Do you treat everyone with respect?

It’s easy for salespeople to make simple mistakes they’re not aware of.

  • Are you condescending to people in certain customer segments, such as women, seniors or young buyers?
  • Do you talk down to those who aren’t car savvy?
  • Are you aware of — and respectful of — the cultural differences and sensitivities of ethnic and religious groups?
  • Do you use language that connects with different types of shoppers?


If you’re not sure, have someone shadow you as you sell. They may be able to point out when you’re being less than respectful and offer recommendations for improvement.


How do you behave during test drives?

Do you try to own the test drive process or do you give shoppers the freedom to drive where and how they want? If you limit the ability of buyers to try out a potential used car purchase, they’ll suspect that you’re trying to hide something about the car. If they want to take a drive down a bumpy road, let them. If they live on one, it’s the only way they’ll know for sure if the used vehicle will be able to hold up against the daily wear and tear it will face.


Do you use high pressure tactics?

Setting time or cost limits and using other high pressure sales tactics may work with some customers, but it won’t be effective with most. It will only send them running out of the door to another dealership. If you find that you’re pressuring people to seal deals, learn a better way. Talk to your manager, check with colleagues or read some reputable books or watch videos about selling to find out how you can learn better sales tactics.


Do you invite people back?

Sometimes a failed sale isn’t really a fail. People often need to give thought to big purchases such as a used car. Don’t slam the door behind people who don’t buy from you. Make it clear that it’s always open to them if they want to take another test drive or explore other options. Even if they don’t come back, keeping things positive will make it more likely they’ll recommend you to others.


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