Car Dealers Everywhere Must Read This: How to Persuade Someone to Buy Something They Don’t Know They Need


Back of new vehicles at car dealership

There are more than 6 million Americans who buy new cars every year. There are also about 40 million Americans who purchase used cars on an annual basis.

This means that roughly 15 percent of the total U.S. population will buy a car during a given year. But unfortunately, it doesn’t mean that it’ll be easy for new and used car dealerships to sell cars to potential customers.

In order to run a successful business, car dealers need to know how to persuade someone to buy something, even when they might not necessarily need it. Lots of people visit car lots and tell dealers they’re “just looking,” which can make it challenging for dealers to hit their sales goals every month.

There are some ways dealers can persuade people to go from “just looking” to “we’ll take it!” in a hurry, though. Check out how to do it below.

Begin by Introducing Yourself

From the moment you first touch base with a customer on your car lot, it’s important for you to begin building up a rapport with them. A customer probably isn’t going to purchase a car from you if they don’t trust you to help them through the process.

With that in mind, you should start your first interaction with a customer by introducing yourself and handing them your business card. Far too often, car dealers will start by asking customers, “Can I help you with something?”, which often makes them feel like you’re trying to sell them something right away.

By introducing yourself to a customer, it’ll put them at ease and reduce the chances of them shooing you away with a stern “I’m just looking!” It’ll allow you to break the ice and get to know them a little bit better before you start trying to make a sale.


When you first walk up to a customer that’s visiting your car lot, you want to show off a sense of confidence. You also want to display professionalism. But most importantly, you want to have a big smile on your face when you go to shake a customer’s hand while introducing yourself.

Back in 2016, Penn State University conducted a study that revealed that people who smile come across as being more likable and more polite than they would if they weren’t smiling. It also found that people who smile are generally perceived as being more competent than their less friendly counterparts.

You obviously don’t want to give people the impression that you’re forcing a smile just to try and impress them. But you should make every effort to deliver a genuine smile to customers on your car lot to let them know that you appreciate them stopping by and are happy to help in any way you can.

Gauge What a Customer Is Looking For

Once you’ve introduced yourself to a customer and flashed a smile for them, it’ll be time to get down to business. But before you start haphazardly attempting to sell a customer on different cars, it’s a good idea to do what you can to gauge what a customer might be looking for on your lot.

There are all kinds of questions that you can work into a conversation with a customer to learn about what they might want to buy. Some of these questions include:

  • “What kind of car do you drive now, and do you like it?”
  • “Which features do you wish you had in your current car?”
  • “What do you use your current car for?”
  • “Is there a specific type of vehicle that you think would work better for you and your family than your current car?”
  • “Have you seen anything on our car lot so far that has caught your eye?”

You shouldn’t bombard a customer with a million and one questions and make them feel like you’re about to hit them with a huge sales pitch. But you should do what you can to get to know them and their needs better. It’ll make it easier for you to suggest cars on your lot that they might like.

Offer to Show Someone Cars They’ll Like

After you’ve worked your way through some of the questions listed above, you should ask a customer one final question for the time being. That question is: “Would it be OK if I showed you a few cars on our lot that might work well for you?”

This is when you’ll get your time to shine. If a customer says yes and agrees to check out some of the cars on your lot, you’ll officially be able to start trying to sell them something that they’ll like.

Use all the information you’ve gathered up until this point to put together a short list of cars that you think a customer might appreciate. Walk them around on your lot and show them the cars one by one while talking about some of the features that come along with each vehicle.

Explain Only the Key Features of Cars

As a car dealer, it’s your job to know each and every feature that’s tucked inside of a car. From the size of the engine under the hood to the safety features that are designed to protect people when they’re out on the road, you should know everything there is to know about a car.

You should also know which key features to point out when you’re showing cars to customers. It’s easy for some car dealers to get carried away and hit people over the head with dozens of features at once. And while this might seem like it’s helpful, it’ll actually just confuse people and make them feel like they need to do additional research before buying a car.

For each car that you show a customer, you should list about five or six key features that make it different from everything else on your lot. Try to tailor those features to your specific customer based on their needs.

For example, if you’re showing a parent a car that they’re going to give to their teenager, play up the safety features in the car. If, however, you’re showing a car to someone who plans on putting the pedal to the metal early and often once they buy their new car, play up the performance features that make it unique.

The key is to find the right features to point out to make people fall in love with one of the cars that you show them.

Point Out Specials and Promotions

In a perfect world, a customer will tell you that they like one of the cars that you’ve shown them. You’ll be able to tell that they’re interested in it and that they wouldn’t mind driving off the lot in it as soon as possible.

This is when you need to strike while the iron is hot by sending your selling skills into overdrive. You should point out the current price of the car and any specials and promotions that you’re running at the moment.

There are some car dealers that hold special end-of-the-year sales as well as sales around the holidays. There are other dealers that will hold car promotions just because at various points throughout the year.

Whatever the case, there’s a decent chance that there’s at least one special or promotion going on at the moment. Don’t hesitate to mention it and to let a customer know how it’ll affect the price of the car they want.

Let a customer know you’re open to crunching the numbers and negotiating on the price, too, if they balk at your initial efforts to get them to buy a car. The goal should be to get them to sit down with you to talk about the price, which will move you one step closer to making a sale.

Avoid Pressuring Customers at All Costs

There is nothing that people hate more than a pushy and overbearing salesperson breathing down their necks at all times. If you make a customer feel uncomfortable by putting even the slightest bit of pressure on them, they’re not going to respond positively to your presence.

It’s up to you to gauge the reaction that you get from a customer when you’re talking to them and respond accordingly. If they don’t seem open to you showing them cars, don’t force them to do it because it could very well backfire on you.

Know when to fall back and give a customer some space. It could end up benefitting you in a big way later when they’re ready to buy. They’ll remember how you made them feel comfortable when they were “just looking” and come back to you to buy a car.

Knowing How to Persuade Someone to Buy Something Is Key

Trying to get the hang of how to persuade someone to buy something can be tricky. It takes a lot of car dealers years to perfect the art of doing it.

Take a step back and think about the ways in which you’re trying to sell cars at the moment. If you’re not taking the approach that’s been presented here, it could be one of the big reasons why you’re not selling as many cars as you would like.

Contact us today to see how we can generate auto leads for you and increase your sales in no time.

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