Test-Driving Your Salesperson

This is how you test-drive your salesman. As I've said before, the person that you deal with is the most important part of the purchase equation. It's not price. It's not selection. It's the person.

I've had customers that purchased a car from me when they had a better deal somewhere else. Why would they do that? Why would they pay more for a vehicle with me than they had already worked out somewhere else? Easy. They liked me better than the goof they worked with at the other dealership.

So, here's how you test-drive your salesperson.

If he introduces himself with one word (i.e. "Tex"), run. No reputable salesperson at a reputable dealership has a name like "Tex" or "Horsechoker" or "Big O". Shortened names like "Jeff" or "Rob", initials like "T.J." are ok. 

Measure the handshake. I always shake hands. Always. If a salesperson doesn't shake your hand, he either doesn't respect you or has some kind of contagious disease. If there are more than one of you (your wife, perhaps) and he doesn't shake their hands, that's a red flag.

Does he repeat your name? A salesperson repeating your name isn't trying to be rude, he or she is most likely just saying it to ensure they heard it properly. Don't hold this against them.

Does the salesperson match your tempo? An overly excited salesperson is either inexperienced or on drugs. Seriously. The salesperson should match your tempo within 30 seconds. If he or she doesn't, chances are the mutual understanding won't be there and you'll just be wasting time. If you naturally talk soft, the salesperson should follow suit. If you're outgoing and gregarious, the salesperson should be able to pick up on that and share laughs with you.

Is he or she smiling? We're trained to smile. A salesperson who is not smiling might be succumbing to the grind of the job, and is likely to be less attentive than you deserve. Selling cars is one grinder of a profession. It's natural for a salesperson to be out of it at some point. But, any salesperson worth his or her desk knows how important it is to make sure the customer feels welcome at the dealership. 

Does he or she know the inventory? This is one of those no-brainer type of things, but a salesperson should know what's on the lot. A simple walk is all it takes, and there's no excuse for not knowing. Sometimes it can be tough (we have $10 million in inventory at our lot), but the salesperson should at least know where certain vehicles are grouped.

Does the salesperson go on the demo drive and show you the features? This one is kind of sticky, truthfully, because a lot of great salespeople are extremely busy and may not be able to take a lot of time with you one-on-one. If the store isn't that busy, however, he had better make sure you know everything he knows about that vehicle. They should also accompany you on the test drive, because you might have questions that you would like to ask and it would be extremely useful to have the salesperson right there with you.

Does the salesperson go immediately into some unknown office and come out with someone you've never met? Leave. I can't stress this enough. LEAVE. Unless they introduce the person as their manager, don't waste any more time. The person that they bring out is the person who is going to hammer you about the numbers, and any good salesperson is capable of giving you the numbers themselves. If the salesperson that greeted you is new, he or she should say so and introduce you to the person that is training them. If they aren't being trained by someone, RUN.

The salesperson should be courteous about your time. A good salesperson will answer any questions that you have about a vehicle. If you tell the salesperson that you don't have a lot of time, he or she should offer to set an appointment for you to come back at a later point in time. Good salespeople don't take shortcuts or try to cram an entire car deal into an hour. 

When presenting numbers, does the salesperson run back and forth to the manager's office? This is just the way some dealerships are set up, but if you make an offer, the salesperson should have some kind of idea if the offer is acceptable. If the salesperson doesn't joust with you a little bit over the numbers, he isn't the decision maker. The salesperson should also make sure that you know exactly what the all the numbers pertaining to the deal are. If you ask a question, he should have the answer.

Does the salesperson follow-up after the sale? Most won't. Most dealerships have an automated follow-up system worked out so that their salespeople can continue getting fresh business. A top-notch salesperson will do personalized follow-up anyway.

These are all important things to consider when choosing your salesperson. If you find a good one, and are loyal, you can be assured of quality service both now and in the future.

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