A common problem facing dealerships across the nation is foot-traffic. The main purpose of having foot-traffic is to sell more cars. Dealers everywhere know that the Internet is the #1 information source for vehicle buyers in 2016.That’s not news. What they don’t know is how to train their salesmen to sell in the information age.

David Lewis's Top Sales Tips to Gain and Retain Customers Click To Tweet

Vehicle salesmen are perceived as notorious bad guys. Largely stereotyped by movies and TV shows, the problem has led to an increase of customers turning to third-party sites to gather that information. In fact, over 75% of consumers who research cars online spend most of their time on third-party sites – they see third-party sites as more reliable and trustworthy.2

A recent Forbes article titled, “Why is it so painful to buy a new car?” explains the problem.Consumer experiences with a dealership are painful. They don’t want to deal with the distrust they have for car salesmen. They also don’t want to deal with the time it takes to find and purchase a car from start to finish at a dealership. Because of this, they start their search online – away from direct dealership influence.

Dealers have come a long way to address the claims the Forbes article lists, but perception is reality and customers won’t be easily convinced.

David Lewis & Associates has been training dealers, general managers, service managers, sales managers, F&I managers, salespeople, and service advisors on the “Art of Inspiration Selling” since 1986. Lewis shared a few of his personal tips so that you can increase your showroom traffic and sell more cars.

Win the battle of the mind

Winning the sales battle is largely a battle of the mind. In order to confidently turn prospects into loyal customers, you must learn how to mentally handle the ups and downs of a showroom floor. Not everyone who walks into your showroom will buy a vehicle from you that day – or at any point in time. What you must do is learn how to handle disappointment and grow from your failures as you prepare mentally and physically for the next sale.

French chemist Dr. Louis Pasteur once said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind.” If you and your sales team hopes to change perceptions and sell more vehicles on a day-to-day basis, you must be prepared both mentally and physically.

If you’re preparing to host a private sale and you know you’ll be dealing with increase traffic, crunched time, and pressure to sell, make sure you’re well rested and emotionally prepared to get the results you’re hoping for. You’ll also want to make sure you know what’s currently on your lot and what your potential customers might want to know about your current inventory.

It’s your responsibility to identify who is there to buy a car – who is currently in the market. A big part of your success will be dependent on your knowledge of your inventory layout. Vehicle shoppers today have a plethora of information at their fingertips. You’ll want to present yourself as a professional in the field who is knowledgeable about your industry. They should feel confident in your knowledge. The more prepared you are to answer industry questions and provide information about the vehicles on your lot, the more professional you will appear and the more the customer will respect you.

The more you’re prepared and practiced in the art of customer-focused sales, the more natural it will become and the more likely you are to be successful. You can never be prepared enough.

Understand your customers

If your goal is to take opportunities on the lot and turn them into sales, you’ll have to address the shopper’s mindset as well as your own. This is the most important thing you can depend on for converting a shopper into a buyer. Shoppers will be on guard against your advances. They’ve heard the stereotype and they’ll be defensive to your qualifying questions. You need to know what will motivate them to purchase a car from you, but you must be careful as you approach them.

You can overcome their defensiveness and hesitancies if you know what to look for. Listen closely to their words and body language. Unlocking the key to their trust depends on you. No matter what their perception of you, salesmen in general, and dealerships might be, if you take the time to get to know their wants and needs, you’ll be able to earn their trust step by step. Don’t fulfill stereotypes by overlooking your potential customer and just trying to make the sale. Show you care about their needs and concerns.

Earn their trust – Ask the right questions

Less selling and telling and more listening will lead to effective dialogue that accomplishes exactly what both you and the shopper desire. Remember, they’re on the defensive because they expect you to try to upsell them and trick them into a vehicle they don’t want and can’t afford. They actually want to purchase a vehicle at some point in the near future, they just need you to earn their trust.

Your goal should not just be to make a sale that day, your goal should be to earn their business for life. Gain their trust and you’ll earn their loyalty.

Focus on the questions necessary to understanding their basic wants. Don’t try to qualify them too soon. Ask them whether they want a new or used vehicle and what style of vehicle they want to have. These types of questions don’t threaten shoppers, they just show that you are genuinely concerned with helping them accomplish their purchasing goals.

Don’t ask them what their price range is. If they’re looking for a new four-door sedan, start by showing them the cheapest model. Observe their reaction to the sticker price. If they seem concerned, you’ve probably found their cap. If they ask to see a vehicle with more features, you’ll know they can go higher. They’ll reveal their budget to you as the process continues.

By starting with the lowest vehicle price you’ll let your customers feel that they are in control and they will lower their defensive posture. They hate the typical car-buying process because of stereotypes surrounding the industry and your willingness to listen to their needs will put them at ease and build their trust.

By connecting with your customers and avoiding common sales pushes, you’ll eliminate their need to go anywhere else! You can even reassure them that they have the right to shop around, but, if you have the right kind of vehicle they’re looking for, they’ll want to do business with you because you’ve developed a relationship with them.

You’ll earn their respect and become their only source for all of their transportation needs.


  1. https://oemsolutions.agameautotrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/10223_Car-Buyer-Journey-keystats-FINAL.pdf
  2. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/dealership-micro-moments-auto-searches.html
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2016/05/11/fix-this-why-is-it-so-painful-to-buy-a-new-car/#733be54fc7ce