Price shopping is not new. We all do it. It always boils down to who's going to be the last sales person the buyer will deal with — you or someone else.
Consider the following two examples when handling price shoppers.
Possible sale now if done right:
Price shoppers are bold and brisk. They will tell you exactly what they want — package numbers, color, options, etc. — and that they are not going to play any car sales games.
These people have made calls all over town and have been to several dealerships researching and test-driving vehicles. They already have the best prices and a good idea of how low we or some other dealer will go.
Be polite with these customers because they've probably had several unpleasant car buying experiences to this point, and you do not want to be added to their list.
Introduce yourself and proceed with the your contact questions. Ask all the contact questions. Example: Will there be anyone else involved in the buying decision or will it be just yourself? Ask the customers if they have driven the vehicle of interest. This is a great indicator that they may be ready to make a purchase today.
At your work station, pull out a worksheet, telling the customer that you would like to clarify exactly what they want. Say you are going to check your inventory, and that you will be right back. If you have the right vehicle or close in stock, pull it up to your showroom and have the customer clarify that it is the right vehicle.
Do a vehicle presentation and demo drive. Even if they've driven the vehicle at another dealership, get them to test drive with you.
After confirming mental ownership, bring your customer back to your office and complete your worksheet. At this point be very precise and ask for the sale.
Ask the customer:
“What you are telling me is that you know exactly what you want and are prepared to get this vehicle now if we can agree on a price and payments? Is that correct?”
If everything is OK, proceed with your negotiations and close the sale. If not, use example two.
No chance of a sale now, but maybe soon:
When a customer wants to get your best price and shop it around, try this:
Clarify exactly what they want, ask your contact questions, do a presentation. Ask for the sale now. If you cannot close then, excuse yourself and discuss the situation with your sales manager. Your manager should introduce him self or herself to your customer and verify the situation. This shows the customer you and your dealership are serious in helping this person get a new vehicle.
When the manager leaves, tell the customer:
“You're telling me you know what you want and are prepared to get this vehicle in the next day or two if we can agree on a price and payment. Is that correct? Can I call you later today or tomorrow with our price and numbers? I'll need some time to work it out. Is this OK? Great! Where can I call you?”
When you call, give a better price than the MSRP, and wait for their reaction. Do not go too low over the phone. Most of these potential customers will say that they have a better deal elsewhere. Don't worry. Proceed with negotiating the exact same way you would as if they were sitting right in front of you.
Darin George is founder of the Automotive Sales College (firstname.lastname@example.org)