Car Sales Qualifying Questions

Feb 22, 2021Tips & Tricks


Sometimes, with all the focus on digital tools and communication, it can be easy to lose sight of how important the simple skill of qualifying your leads and building rapport naturally with your customers actually is. This goes for both the potential customers who approach you in the showroom and those you engage with on social media and other digital platforms. That’s why car sales qualifying questions are so important.

Not everyone you talk to will actually be looking to buy a car, and not everyone who is will be the key decision maker. And no matter how strongly you believe or want it to be the case – not every potential customer is a good fit for the products and services you offer. Understanding why your customer is in the market, and what other factors might be influencing their decisions, is vital to sealing the deal. It’s unlikely they simply have money to burn, or have a sudden looming deadline to buy a car.

The best car sales qualifying questions enable you to progress through the buying journey naturally and step-by-step, and will provide you with the right information to match a prospect to the right vehicle – it’s that simple. Obviously though, it’s not quite as simple as simply firing off a checklist of queries, which is unlikely to endear yourself to the customer unless they’re a drill sergeant. In this article we’ll be looking at both the car sales qualifying questions that work, and those that don’t’. Let’s start with the latter!

Car sales qualifying questions to avoid

If your customers are an unwelcome distraction to complaining to your colleagues about why you’re not selling any cars, one way to alienate them and have them heading home (or more likely, to your competitors), is to ask the wrong questions. Or even the right ones in the wrong way! Anything that comes across as abrupt, accusing, or even aggressive is likely to set you off to a rocky start. When you’re establishing the context of why a customer has chosen your brand or business to begin their car buying journey, try to avoid getting to the point too fast. None of your starting gambit should be based on the following:

  • Whether or not they are looking to buy today
  • Whether they are considering finance
  • If they have good credit (how the above question is often interpreted)
  • Pricing parameters – what they can afford
  • If they’ll be able to leave a deposit today

You’ve probably noticed that all of these questions are focused on money. Asking these types of car sales qualifying questions too early on might get you some useful information, but it will also tell the customer that you’re only interested in money – something they probably already suspected. The customer is expecting to discuss money at the end of the process, not at the start. Use the early part of the journey to establish rapport and find out more about what they need instead.

Determining what customers need

The only real qualifying question you need to use in the meet and greet stage is one that acts as an introduction – basically, get their name. You’ve probably had it drummed into you that you need to take details immediately, scrabbling for a pen and pad to fill in a form – on screen or otherwise. Just remember though, your focus should be on building a relationship. The admin can come later, even if you have to repeat yourself or reconfirm a few points. If you’ve done the graft of showing you understand their wants and needs, and have already listened to them, your customers will be much more forgiving and co-operative.

The best car sales qualifying questions encourage customers to talk about themselves – and also don’t seem threatening or pointed. These might include:

  • Whether they are looking for a new or used vehicle
    • And why they have a preference if so
  • Typical mileage
  • Typical use of the vehicle
    • Number of passengers
    • Whether they have children
    • Do they have a dog?
    • Do they have hobbies the car has to cater for – off-roading or mountain biking for instance!
  • Features that are must haves and must not haves

These types of questions work for two reasons. First, they have purpose – the customer is unlikely to put up too many barriers, as they understand why you need to ask these kinds of questions. Secondly, they give you vital information that will help you understand what kind of lifestyle the customer has, and what kind of vehicle might fit best into that lifestyle.

It’s important to understand that qualifying questions fit in and around the entire buying process. Once you’ve established the details above, you’ll likely be moving on to a walkaround or even a test drive of a vehicle that fits in with the information you’ve gathered.

Matching a vehicle to your customer

Now, your questions are no longer about whether a vehicle might fit into the customer’s lifestyle – they’ll be about how the vehicle looks and feels to them. The idea is to affirm and reassure the customer that they have made the right choice, which you’ve been an important part of.

However, it’s important to be flexible here. Your qualifying questions might reveal that this isn’t quite the right model for them. Don’t be put off by this or tempted to keep pushing on a car just because it’s right in front of them there and then. Showing you understand their needs, and have their best interests at heart rather than a quick sale, will go a long way to establishing trust.

The sort of questions you can ask when walking around or test driving a vehicle with a customer might include:

  • How do the seats feel?
  • What do you think about the styling?
  • How does this compare to your current vehicle?
  • What would you add to this car if you could?
  • How does the trunk space measure up for you?
  • What do you think about the driving position?
  • Do you think your passengers would be happy in here?

As you have probably noticed, almost all of these questions are designed to be open-ended. They don’t give the customer the opportunity to answer “yes” or “no”. We know you are professional salespeople and established automotive businesses – you don’t need us to tell you how to suck eggs. But hopefully you can see how these kinds of typical car sales qualifying questions can be built on, with each giving you new ammunition to build your knowledge and develop your pitch.

Sealing the deal

As we’ve tried to show, qualification takes place throughout the entire car buying journey, but it’s when it comes to sign on the dotted line that most perhaps think of it playing a pivotal role. It’s understandable, as obviously you want to know that your customer is the real deal before you invest valuable time with them. However, to a certain extent, them’s the breaks! Sometimes, you will spend time with a prospect only for it to go nowhere, or for the customer not to be able to afford the car, or be turned down on finance. But perspective is important here – you never know when or if that time might be rewarded at a later time. They might recommend a friend, or come back to you next time they want to buy a car. What they’ll remember is how you took the time to understand their needs.

But, once you do get to the make-or-break stage, some of those awkward questions we touched on earlier have suddenly become relevant. Here’s what you might ask.

  • What kind of deposit did you want to put down?
  • Have you set a budget for your monthly payments?
  • How many months would you like the contract to be?
  • Are you aware of the pros and cons of buying outright?

You might notice that even here, these questions are softer than the direct, to-the-point demands we suggested you avoid in the opener. The entire purpose car sales qualifying questions serve is to provide you with the information you need to close the deal, not to actually close it there and then.

Using what you’ve learnt

Closing the deal is where you can use the information you’ve gleaned from the prospect to convince them they are definitely making the right choice. Once a customer has shown you they can picture themselves in the vehicle and living with it, they are giving you an opener to bring things to a conclusion. Simple closing questions can include:

  • Ready to move forward?
  • Shall we take the next steps?
  • What do we need to do today/next for this to work?

Once you get to the close, a simple yes or no is all you need – but remember, a softer approach will help give you an out if things don’t go your way immediately.

SnapCell is intuitive, self-editing car dealer software and video app that provides you with simple and reliable automotive video tools that enable you to personalize your email and SMS marketing. It can also help you build rapport with customers and make more sales. It’s the perfect platform for answering queries from your prospects online yet in person. And, with SnapCell Messenger, you can chat back and forth after sending a video – giving you the ideal opportunity to introduce any number of soft, open, car sales qualifying questions into the conversation.

If you’d like to know more about how SnapCell can be used as a qualification or training tool, as well as one that improves CSI scores, showroom visits, service upsell, and sales, get in touch with a member of the team today.

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