Assume the Sale! Put Customers in a Buying Mood

Oct. 12, 2016

Customers can be confusing. I don’t like to be confused, so I’m a little pushy. I want to know what a customer is thinking. I like to assume the sale. I assume from the start that my chances of making any sale are great right from the get-go. I know that this attitude has won a lot of sales for me over the years, and it continues to do so.

Let me give you an example. It’s easy for me to make quick friends. Several years ago I met a young man who loves to talk, and he especially loves to talk about cars, tires and wheels. He often asks my advice on packages for his friends, and I gladly oblige. About eight weeks ago, he called about his neighbor who had a Jeep painted root beer brown, along with some suspension modifications.

You know what happened next? We did the whole thing. “What’s the tallest tire?” Blah, blah, blah. “Will it rub?” Blah, blah, blah. “Would black wheels look good?” Blah, blah, blah. We went back and forth as so often happens. “Can he use the same size rims?” “Would chrome look better?” And so on.

I told my friend, “Make sure you try to get your customer interested in several styles and brands for availability reasons.” After weeks of questions, the Jeep owner made his final selection: Moto Metal MO962 18x9-inch chrome, and 33-inch all-terrain tires — all five, of course!

Questions speak volumes

I was reading the buying signals secondhand through my friend. You know and I know that reading the buying signals is critical to closing any sale. I recognized early on that the Jeep owner didn’t really know what he wanted or needed. For that reason alone, I knew we were going to make the sale. Questions are verbal signals. Questions speak to me about interest levels. More questions mean an increased chance to close the sale.Some salespeople get frustrated with questions. I agree that questions can be tiring, but we must realize that customers often don’t know what they want and, therefore, ask the wrong questions. They may indicate a no answer, but don’t know why. When the customer quits asking questions, the chance of closing the sale drops dramatically.

If the customer doesn’t know what to ask, who does? Practical questions can put the sale back on track. We can’t let the customer quit talking. We have to ask questions that speak emotionally to the customer. I told my friend to ask the customer if he wanted the spare tire and wheel, and if he did that, we would give him a great deal on the fifth tire and wheel. I’m sure no one else was going to make that offer.

I actually love to talk, train and coach, so I offered my friend a few more tips. I told him that chrome might look good on the darker brown color. When you can get a customer to talk about details, he or she is more likely to buy. With details, the customer is closer to imagining the Jeep wheels and off-road tires.

Win some, lose some

Another thing, haggling. Many customers are not very good at haggling, but they try anyway. If you are like me, after the customer stumbles on a lousy attempt at haggling, you can think of a dozen things you’d like to say, but can’t. For gosh sakes, take the customer off the hook and help them haggle. At least you are back in control. Remember, most customers don’t know how to negotiate tires, wheels or automotive service. I’ve always enjoyed giving a discount on a Jeep package. If I make a little less on the spare, who cares? Besides, Jeep owners usually know other Jeep owners. Any questions?

Here’s another free psychological selling tip; I call it neuro-selling. We always talk about getting into the customer’s head. Well, customers aren’t likely to start saying no or tell you why they aren’t going to buy from us (well, maybe millennials). People’s brains today are more adverse to complexity, so we need to keep it simple and less complicated to avoid brain-pain, resulting in a negative outcome.

Secondly, plant positive thoughts; the seeds of positivity germinate quickly when a customer is in a buying mode. They may not be in a buying mood, but they are in buying mode. Give your customers positive thoughts and simple, uncomplicated solutions. You might have to be a little pushy, but I say, “Assume the sale!”

Once the sale is made, everybody is happy.  

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at [email protected].

To read more Counter Intelligence columns, click:

How Do You Sell Tires to Friends?

There are Only Two Problems You Can Have in a Tire Store

Beware of Routing Dullness: Invest $25 and a Little Time in You and Your Career

Leading Up the Hill or Off the Cliff: Make Your Employees See the Light or Feel the Heat

About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.