The move toward customer-centricity in the automotive industry is already well underway, but there are still plenty of opportunities for continued innovation.

For example, enabling and empowering consumers to start the buying process online or schedule an in-store visit can help establish a mutual relationship earlier in their journey. Ultimately, it comes down to meeting customers where they are rather than pushing them to the outcome you’re hoping for. When qualifying a prospect, you should look to answer some of these key questions:

  • What are they looking for, and why?
  • Which features are must-have vs. nice-to-have, and why?
  • Can they afford your products and/or services, and if not, why?
  • What other options or dealerships are they considering, and why?

Starting to notice a pattern? Being an empathetic car salesperson is all about figuring out the why and taking steps to address those key points. By doing so, you may be able to figure out if a customer is ready to take the next step or if they need more time to think through their options. Understanding your customers’ circumstances and motivations will bring you a lot closer to not just a sale, but a lifelong customer.

Be On Your Customer’s Side

Until now, we’ve largely focused on car selling strategies that have wide appeal and applicability, so it may be useful to offer at least one technique for specialized cases. Today’s car buyers have near limitless information at their fingertips, allowing them to develop a detailed game plan before ever setting foot in a brick-and-mortar dealership.

These high-intent, highly informed customers already know what they’re looking for and how much they’re willing to pay, which can make it difficult to negotiate.

In these scenarios, it’s often more effective to act as a signpost on the path to purchase rather than an enthusiastic tour guide. While you may be tempted to flex your automotive expertise, it’s more important to acknowledge that the time they spent researching was productive and valuable. After all, if they’ve taken the trouble to visit your dealership in person with a brain full of vehicle information, there’s a good chance they’re ready to buy.

These types of high-intent customers have already given a lot of thought to their purchase decisions, so trying to get them excited about new vehicle features may not be the best approach. Instead, a car salesperson should focus on integrating F&I offerings into their conversations in ways that feel natural while helping you boost your margins.

Looking for more tips to accelerate your growth this year? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Dealership Growth in 2021.

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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