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Conducting the test drive correctly

November 23, 2010
To maintain profitability, regardless of the economic climate, a dealership staff must conduct itself properly every time a prospect or customer visits the dealership. A system should exist to identify proper behavior, and the system should be followed every time. One crucial element of a sales system is the test drive, which is the customer's opportunity to experience firsthand all the features and benefits described in the vehicle presentation. The test drive can make or break a sale, so it is worthwhile to establish and adhere to certain guidelines. When planning the demo drive, always • Accompany the customer; • Check the demo vehicle for cleanliness and proper operation; • Use a preplanned route that highlights vehicle features; • Avoid heavy traffic, where possible. For the salesperson's safety, always • Review the person's driver's license and make sure it is valid; • Fill out a demonstration drive "agreement" that includes the prospect's name, address, phone number and details about the demo vehicle; • Inform management of the route to be taken; • Bring another salesperson, if there is a concern about riding alone with the customer; • Insist that the customer operate the vehicle lawfully. When conducting the demo drive, always • Take the wheel first, to let the customer observe the features and the feel of the new-vehicle ride; • Run through the operation of controls and features; • Focus on features that match the customer's expressed expectations and needs; • Change drivers at a midway point; • Point out features as the customer drives; • Allow a few minutes of silence, then answer any questions or concerns; • Subtly ask trial closing questions, like "Is there any additional equipment you'd prefer to have in your new car?" or "Based on all we've looked at, would you say this car fills your needs?" This article was adapted from an NADA management guide, "A Dealer Guide to a Winning Sales System." Copies can be ordered at 800-252-6232 ext. 2. Cost is $10 to NADA members or $20 to nonmembers, plus shipping.