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From: Jared Hamilton
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Anand Srinivasan

Anand Srinivasan Consultant

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Selling Used Cars Vs. New Cars - Is There A Difference In Tactics?

Ben Feldman, one of the world’s most popular insurance salesman once said, “Don’t sell life insurance. Sell what life insurance can do”. While Feldman’s words were targeted at salespeople in his industry, there is a profound message for salesmen from all industries - do not sell your product, sell what your product can do that can change your customer’s life.

Perhaps it is this message that gets a lot of salesmen to talk about the product features, advantages over competition and aspirational or financial benefits of the product while selling them to customers. However, the way you approach these topics differ vastly depending on whether you are a new car salesman or someone who sells used cars. As someone who has done both, here are some tips for how you should approach the two of them.

Let us first talk about selling new cars. To be a successful salesman, you do not have to be an extroverted friendly person (as is often made to be). Instead, you need to be a great listener and understand what exactly are your customers looking for - are they looking for something aspirational? are they looking for a budget car? How many people do they have in the family? Is the car typically going to be used by an indvidual or are they likely to be used for group travel? Asking the right questions and understanding the answers are going to be extremely critical.

Take the example of two families looking for a car in the budget of under $20,000. Now, you would be tempted to sell them a budget car that has the most utilitarian features. But before you do that, you need to understand why the customer is going for this particular car. Are they a wealthy family simply looking for a small vehicle that can take them through the daily traffic? Or, are they a middle class customer looking for something aspirational but that is also within their budget? Understanding this will help you show the right model of cars to your customer. This understanding will also give you an idea of what features to sell - in case of the wealthy family, I would sell utilitarian features like fuel economy and maneuverability whereas for the latter, I would sell the quality of the speakers or the silent engine.

So how different is it to sell a used car? First and foremost, you need to understand why the customer is looking to purchase a used car - is it because of their budget? If your used car is priced in the range of $15,000 or so, is there any particular reason why the customer is not going for a brand new car at that price? Listen to their requirements and the thought process. One customer I once talked to told me that the reason they wanted a used car was because his wife was still learning to drive and he did not want her to dent a brand new car.

In his case, the customer was looking for the cheapest available car. But had they thought about other factors like fuel economy or maneuverability? They are important to a new driver. People learning to drive are concerned about the ease of driving their cars around tight corners. In an effort to not let the engine turn off, they are often known to press the accelerator harder which causes a lot of fuel wastage. The customer may not have factored these requirements and by being a useful salesman, you can sell them cars that are not just cheap but also possess these features.

There are several reasons why a customer goes for a used car and not everything is related to their budget. It is extremely important to understand these requirements because not doing so will make them see you as a plain-vanilla salesman who is just about to push them a product. By understanding their requirements and listening to them, you will get a broad range of suggestions to make. Not only will this help you achieve your sales goals faster, but will also earn you the trust and respect of the customer.

Mike Elliott
Great article and good advice, Anand.
Anand Srinivasan
Glad that you enjoyed the article, Mike. Thanks for reading.

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