For most customers looking to buy a new car, the test drive is an integral part of the process. It gives the customer a chance to truly decide whether they can see themselves driving a particular vehicle for potentially the next 3-10 years. If the test-driven vehicle drives smooth, is comfortable, spacious and doesn’t make any funny sounds, it could easily close the deal. As a salesperson, you need to ensure you can facilitate a test drive that will have your customers wanting to buy the vehicle. In this article, we’re going to go over the purpose of test drives, how to prep for a test drive and the necessary steps to take after the test drive is complete.
Many seasoned salespeople argue that the test drive on its own sells cars. Once the test drive is complete, the most common barrier that customers face is the price of the vehicle.
It’s important to remember that the test drive isn’t about showing your customers the features and benefits of the vehicle, that should all be done in the walkaround early in the sales process. At this point, the customer you're working with has probably done a ton of online research on the vehicles he/she is interested in so you don’t need to give them this information unless it’s being asked of you. The main reason for a test drive is that it allows your customer to decide if they can see themselves driving a particular vehicle for the coming years.
When someone feels the acceleration or maneuverability of a vehicle for the first time, an emotional connection forms. You may think this is weird or untrue, but people really do form emotional connections to their vehicles and this connection can start during a test drive.
While you may not hear the customer thinking out loud about some of the questions he/she has about the vehicle they’re test driving, you should know they’re asking questions in their head. “Will this vehicle be good for long road trips with the family? How will this vehicle perform on snowy winter roads? Will this vehicle fit in my garage?” These are just a few examples of questions that your customer is likely internalizing before they make the decision to buy or not.
It’s important to give the customers a quick walk around and set up some expectations of the particular vehicle they’re going to take for a test drive. If the vehicle they’re test-driving has a powerful engine, maybe let them know to be prepared for a lot of acceleration kick. Even better, if you know the customer is looking for a particular characteristic in a vehicle, if the vehicle has that characteristic, remind them about it before they take the vehicle out. This will re-affirm the customer’s desires and that the vehicle they’re considering meets their criteria. If the customer has any objections or concerns, be sure to address all of them before letting them test drive the vehicle. The last thing you need to do before sending the customer off is to make sure they’re comfortable in the driver’s seat. Be sure to go over how to adjust the seat, steering wheel height and mirrors so the customers feel as comfortable as possible on the road.
This is a question with no real consensus amongst seasoned salespeople. Some would argue that it’s best to give the customer the keys and let them be free in their test drive. While other salespeople believe it’s best to accompany the customer during the test drive so you can positively guide the experience. This allows you more determine the route the customer takes and you can strategically find a route to minimize traffic and maximize right turns. Doing this can increase driver confidence as it will put less stress on the driver if there’s minimal traffic and left turns.
Once the customer returns from the test drive, it’s critical that you ask about the car and how the test drive went. Asking questions like “what did you like about the car or how did you find the acceleration?”. Assuming the customer liked the vehicle, asking these questions is going to reinforce their feelings about the car.
If the customer decides after the test drive that they love the vehicle, in their head, they feel like they already own it. So it’s important for you to remember that now the mindset has shifted from getting a new vehicle to not losing the opportunity to buy the vehicle. With this in mind, it should be easier to close the deal as the emotional connection the customer has with the car is at its peak.
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