Are You Undermining Your Sales Process?

By Ted Ings, Executive Director

Respect Your Customer and Share Control of the Sales Process

“Control” – the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events (Oxford Dictionary)

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Today’s customers don’t want to be dictated to, they don’t walk into a dealership uninformed and expect you to sell them the vehicle you think they need. Those days are long gone and customers are a lot savvier. They do their research online before they visit a dealership, and while they may not know exactly what they want or have a specific vehicle in mind, they have information and they have expectations, and you need to meet those expectations.

Controlling the sales process is not about dictating the terms of the sale, it is about helping your customer to make the best choice and leave your dealership with a new vehicle that they are happy to own.

It’s not about taking control but rather sharing control

When a customer walks into your dealership, you need to make them feel comfortable and let them know that their opinions matter to you. Before you show them any vehicles, discuss their needs, wants and desires so that you can assess their expectations and match those to a vehicle in your dealership. You don’t want to waste time showing them random vehicles that do not suit their needs or budget because then they will soon lose interest in the entire sales process.


When a customer tells you that they are interested in an SUV, don’t immediately tell them that you have the perfect vehicle for them and launch straight into your sales presentation for one specific vehicle. If you try to dictate to the customer, they will automatically assume that you are trying to control them and sell them a vehicle that you want to get rid of rather than one that meets their requirements.

Rather tell that you have a large number of SUV’s in stock and that you need more information about their lifestyle and intended use of the vehicle in order to help them make the right choice.

Emotion plays an important role in the sales process

As discussed in a previous article (Appeal to the right side of the brain to increase sales) most people shop with logic, but they buy on emotion. 20% of the final decision is logical but 80% is emotional. A customer may look at all their choices logically but at the end of the day, it is their emotional response, not only to the vehicle but to the entire sales process, that closes the deal for you. If they enjoy the experience, they will be more likely to buy the vehicle, and you need to capitalize on this by making the sales experience enjoyable for the customer.

And if it means sharing control, to make your customer feel more comfortable, then that is what you have to do.

Use your fact-finding skills to determine what is most important to your customer and then focus on meeting those needs. By doing this you have not relinquished control of the sales process, you still have the knowledge and experience to guide the customer towards a specific vehicle, but you are respecting their opinions and sharing control with them.

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You are listening to what they want, and that makes the customer feel like they are in control of the situation. And this will ultimately make it easier for you to close the deal because the customer will feel like they have had maximum input in the decision-making process.

They won’t feel like you have sold them the vehicle you want them to have, but rather that they have bought the vehicle of their choice. By working with the customer and sharing control everyone gets what they want. The customer gets a vehicle they are happy with and you get the sale. It’s a win-win for everyone.

The sales process is a negotiation, not a power struggle

When you share control, you see the customer as a partner in the sales process rather than an opponent and this changes the entire atmosphere of the negotiations.

It puts you on an equal footing, allows you to build trust with your customer and makes it easier to close the deal. Alternatively, if you turn the negotiation into a power struggle or a fight for control, it immediately makes the process more combative and means that somebody has to win.


But in order for one person to win, the other one has to lose. If you are constantly fighting your customer for control, you are undermining the entire sales process and working against yourself because you have created a win-lose situation.

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And nobody likes to lose. But when you share control you create a win-win scenario that will make it easier for you to close the deal.

Preview, Advantage. Confirm

I use a technique called “PAC” or “Preview, Advantage. Confirm” to introduce something new to a customer.


The first step is to explain the product to the customer – to give them a preview of what you have to offer. You could be explaining the safety features of a new vehicle or a unique navigation system but basically, you are whetting their appetite.


People are naturally ego-centrical and always want to know, “what’s in it for me.” And it is your job to show them the advantages of the deal you put on the table or the vehicle you are selling. When you have grabbed the customer’s attention with the preview, you need to then sell them on the unique features of the vehicle or your financing options or whatever makes this the right deal for them.


Finally, you need to provide the confirmation that they are making the best decision. Take them for a test drive and let them see for themselves why the vehicle you have shown them will suit their lifestyle.

When you share control of the sales process with the customer you make your job easier. You allow the customer to tell you what they are looking for and then you do your best to meet their expectations and make everyone happy.