Think of the dealership sales qualifying process like a doctor’s examination. Then you’ll understand the need to ask critical questions.

If your doctor does not ask you important personal-health questions, it will be hard for him or her to diagnose you.

The more questions you ask your dealership customers, the more useful information you will get. If you don’t know what’s right, wrong or needed, how can you help them buy a new vehicle?

It has always amazed me why some sales people are not sure what the customer wants. You need to know all you can.

Before we delve into effective qualifying questions to ask, let’s determine where and when to ask them. Most of the time, it is on the dealership lot or in your office. Often, you can and should blend these questions into your vehicle presentation.

Start your qualifying examination soon after a proper greeting. The initial questions set the tone and build rapport for the entire buying experience. The qualifying questions should follow an order to create a consistent conversation that identifies and classifies desires and requirements of each customer.

The best salespeople listen more than they talk, so start listening. You should always act as if you are the sales manager. Think about what your manager wants to know about your customer.

The following are some of the best customer qualifying questions. Remember, always start with a professional greeting.

“Welcome to ASC Dealership, My name is Darin, and your name is?”

“Is this your first visit to the dealership?” This determines if the customer has been dealing with another sales representative and how they heard about the dealership.

“Did you come in today because of an advertised vehicle we are featuring?” This eliminates any confusion and gets you directly to the unit they are interested in.

“Did you know our dealership is having a sale or special event today?”

A point of interest about your dealership is always helps build credibility. If you are having a special on a particular vehicle, mention it, even if they are not interested in that model. Everyday is a special sale day.

“What features are you looking for in your vehicle, (do not pause here), new or used, 2- or 4-door, truck, minivan, 4X4, SUV, automatic or manual transmission, 4- 6- or 8-cyl. engine, air conditioning, CD player, Blue Tooth, USB port, GPS,  sunroof,  cloth or leather interior, your color preference…”

Obviously, this narrows down what type of vehicle the customer is looking for. This gets you closer to determine what the customer has in mind.

“What in your present vehicle would you also like in your new vehicle?”

This determines if there is a trade involved.  It also helps to find the customer’s “hot buttons” for the features most important to them.

“Will you be selling or trading in your present vehicle?” Explain the tax saving for trading in their vehicle, if there is one. Make sure if the customer is planning on trading in a vehicle.

The reason you are saying “selling” instead of “trading” is that selling has more financial value to it. This information will determine how you to handle the trade negotiation.

“How many miles do you drive per month or year?” This helps determine which needs are required depending on how much the car is driven. It also influences leasing mileage restrictions.

“Who will mainly drive the vehicle?” This is important because if you are dealing with a husband and wife, and she’s the main driver, you need to focus more of your attention on her.

Focus at least 60% of your time on the main driver. This question will also determine if anyone else may be involved in the buying decision (spouse, children, friend, co-worker). If the main driver has an issue with a vehicle, it will not be sold regardless of what anyone else may think.

“Will there be anyone else involved in the decision regarding your new vehicle or will it just be yourself?” This is a direct way of determining if all decision makers are present. Ask this with care because some customers may take offense to it. If you do not know the answer by the time you are ready to ask for the sale, guess what you might hear them say? 

“Is the vehicle going to be used for business, pleasure or family use?”  This question helps narrow down the purpose of the vehicle. It will help you learn if leasing will be an option. If it is for the family, then size and safety are important. 

“What price range did you want to be around, $10,000 to $15,000 (pause and see what they say); $15,000 to $20,000; $25,000 to $30,000 (pause and see what they say)?”

Asking this determines a prospective price range. Most people have these numbers calculated long before they visit your dealership.

“If you are like most people, you might be concerned about getting approved on a loan. Please don’t worry, we have one of the best financial people in the city. We will get you approved.”

When you say this to customers, it will ease their mind on credit approval. You are probably one of the only salespeople in the city that has said this to them.

“How were you thinking of paying for your new vehicle?” This obviously determines what type of financing the buyer is contemplating and gives you some idea of their financial position.

“What type of monthly budget do you want?” This gives you an idea of the selling price of the vehicle you should be looking for.

The trade and cash down will affect the monthly payment. It is important for you to try to increase the customer’s payment expectations because they rarely match the vehicle he or she wants.

These are some of the best qualifying questions. When combined with a proper greeting and vehicle presentation, you will have an excellent start to a professional selling process.

Use these questions to role play with another salesperson at your dealership. Make them your own. Proper customer qualification always increases your sales and gross profits.

Darin George is the president of ASC Dealer Sales Training and Staffing. www.visitasc.com . He is also the author of two sales training books. You can contact him at darin@visitasc.com for his online sales process training course and sales staff recruiting services