Hardison’s Tip # 247

Questions: The quickest way to qualify a showroom prospect

Find out what’s important to your prospects before trying to sell them something.


Dealership salespeople are sometimes viewed as greedy, unethical and unscrupulous – determined to close a sale at any cost. Yet, any business cannot survive without generating sales, so selling skills become a critical competency.


Selling is an honorable profession. And the most important skill to learn is how to effectively qualify your prospect.


The most common mistake salespeople make is to immediately launch into a product presentation or “pitch” when they first meet their prospect. They extol the virtues of their vehicles and tell the prospective buyer how good, fast, reliable, inexpensive or easy to use their vehicles are. They talk, talk, and talk hoping they’ll convince the buyer that their dealership is of value.


The problem with this approach is that the “pitch” seldom addresses the issues or concerns of the buyer. Because their needs have not been addressed, there is no compelling reason for them to consider buying from you. You need to give them a reason. One of the most effective ways to do this is to ask a few well thought-out questions to uncover what is important to the prospect.


Here are a few examples:


  • “I notice you bought your last car from XYZ dealership. How many cars have you bought from them”
  • “What do you like most about them?”
  • “If you could change one thing about your current vehicle, what would it be?”
  • “What are the most important features of a car for you?”
  • “What have your experiences been with XYZ dealership?”
  • “How will you use your new

Notice that each of these is an open-ended question which means it begins with “who”, “what”, “where”, “why”, “when” or “how.” These types of questions encourage the prospect to open up and share information of what their needs and wants are. An important note here is to be cautious you don’t inadvertently turn these open questions into close-ended ones by saying something like;

“What are the most important features for you? Reliability? Price?”

This is a very common mistake that now gives the prospect an answer. Selling cars is hard enough without making it even more difficult. Never assume you know how they are going to answer. Ask your question and wait patiently for the answer. Even if you have been in the business for ten years or longer and think you’ve heard it all, don’t make the mistake of assuming you know what the prospect’s needs are. Let them tell you, rather than you telling them.

People will tell you anything you want to know. All you have to do is ask. Most people love to talk about themselves and want to share information about their current situation, their challenges or problems, likes and dislikes. But, in most cases, they need prompting. This prompting comes from you in the form of asking the right questions in the proper tone and manner.

Take the time to learn about the customer before you launch into the presentation.

If you really want to begin differentiating yourself from your competitors, take the time to learn about your prospect’s situation. By doing so, you’ll begin to give them a reason to do business with you instead of someone else.


Make it a champion day!




From his success on the sales floor of an automotive dealership  to becoming a veteran trainer and then the adoption of technology for Internet-based marketing, his career has evolved to deliver the skills and tools needed to help consumers. Richie Bello combined his automotive expertise with his robust desire to “take care of the customer first” to become an automotive influencer, published author, and renowned trainer.  Bello absorbed the wants and needs of consumers as he worked up the ladder of the automotive industry.

Over the thirty-five years of his career, he developed strong Internet marketing skills, leading him to developing software solutions that create ease for consumers, and helps dealers improve relationships with customers. Innovation drives success. And, for Bello, it’s in his DNA. took years to come to consumers and arrived in a timely manner, during the 2020 Pandemic. With over 6 million vehicles on the site, features that help consumers deliver, finance and warranty, Bello has met the retail digital age head on.

Bello also is founder of Richie Bello Institute of Leadership and Management, a 501C3 not for profit, dedicated to the recruitment, education and employment of veterans into the automotive industry. Visit


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