I remember my rookie year in the car business. My first month saw 11 deliveries, the second month eight, and the third month six. Consistency was not in my selling strategy.

That first month with 11 deliveries and a fat paycheck made me realize the income potential in this new career. The problem was how could I do this and more, every month.

I just spent three hours with Mr. & Mrs. Gustus, and we were sitting in my office when I realized I did not know how to ask them to buy the car. So of course, I started talking about everything except selling them a vehicle.

I knew I did a great job for them with vehicle presentations, demo drives and even explaining how great our dealership was. These people really liked me and even said I was the best salesperson they ever had. How could I push these nice folks into a new vehicle? I did not want them to think I was an aggressive salesperson. Heck, they loved me.

Mr. & Mrs. Gustus asked if it was all right if they went home and thought about everything? I said, “No problem. Give me a call when you have made a decision.” We parted as friends, and with me thinking a sure sale was imminent.

Two days' went by, so I gave them a call. Mrs. Gustus sounded different then two days earlier. She passed the phone to Mr. Gustus and he began to explain to me that they purchased a new car elsewhere on the same day they saw me. I was puzzled but what could I do? He said they have recommended me to some of their friend as the nicest salesperson they have ever dealt with.

I hope everyone understands this story because just about every auto sales person has a similar story. Why are we not sure when to ask the customer and how to ask the customer for the order? Are we scared to be that aggressive high-pressured salesperson everybody hates? Or have we forgotten why people come to our dealerships. Do we all possibly have this same problem?

Fact is, if we do not ask, we will not receive.

You have to earn the right to ask for the order. Did you introduce yourself properly? Did you ask all the contact questions? Was a full presentation and demonstration drive done? Did you sell the customer on your dealership? Were you professional?

The more you give to the customer, the more you will receive.

Once you are back in your office you have to put the customer in a controlled environment and make them comfortable. Most customers are uneasy at this stage of the selling process. Remember how you felt when you bought your first car? The emotional intensity level of the customer is at its highest, and how we proceed will determine if we sell the vehicle.

If you have done everything possible for the customer, ask for the order. The following is a non-pressured and very effective way to ask.

Eight steps to asking for the order

Step one: Offer the customer a beverage. “What do you take in your coffee?”

Step two: If you have any questions that you have not answered for the customer, answer them now, before you proceed.

Step three: Tell the customer: “Now before we go any further, I want to make sure that we have selected the correct vehicle?” Look for a verbal or a physical gesture, i.e., a head nod. If everything is OK there, tell them: “I have a few questions and could you answer them as straight forward as possible?”

Step four: Ask the customer: “Did you enjoy the ride and features of the vehicle?” If yes, proceed.

Step five: Ask the customer: “Do you have any other questions about the dealership? How about the vehicle?” If they have concerns or questions, answer them.

Step six: Clarification at this point is critical. Ask the customer: “So, we have selected the right vehicle? If for some reason you feel the selection is wrong, tell me.” If everything is ok, proceed.

Step seven: Ask the customer: “Ok then, if there was anything preventing you from getting the vehicle, what would it be?” The customer may give several conditions, i.e. the price, trade (difference), monthly payments, interest rate and terms. If you are selling a used vehicle, the conditions could be additional repairs they want done before agreeing on numbers. Whatever their response is to your question, handle it with step eight.

Step eight: Ask the customer: “So what you are suggesting to me is that if the (price, payments, trade, terms repairs, etc…) were agreeable, you would like to get the vehicle as soon as possible, is that correct?” If everything is confirmed and clarified, pull out your work sheet and fill in the details on the vehicle the customer is interested in. The next step is the negotiation. We'll cover that next month.

Now that you know how to ask for the order professionally, practice by role-playing with one of the other sales people at your dealership. Have fun with it. Make it easy at first and then as you get better increase the difficulty level.

Meeting wrap up

If you do not ask you will not close.

To be a professional you have to be educated on your profession, practice everyday, be consistent, and maintain self-control. Never up, never in.

Darin B. George is founder of the Automotive Sales College which trains people for careers in selling cars. He can be reached at 1-888-681-7355.