scale weighting car against money

Traditionally the process was – sell the customer the new car first, before you buy their car – i.e.

  • Take the customer to see the new car
  • 5-Step walk round
  • Test drive
  • Get their commitment to buy the car
  • Commit to the Part Exchange Appraisal and valuation

This is a very ‘transactional’ approach and the challenge in this internet age is – how do you give today’s sophisticated buyer the enjoyable shopping experience they are looking for and maintain control of the sale to maximise the opportunity?

In my seminar “How to sell a car to everyone” I go into a lot of detail about how you can achieve this.

It is important here that I stress we are talking about the APPRAISAL not the valuation – the valuation and discussion around figures should not happen until the customer has agreed to buy “subject to the figures” – separate the Appraisal and the Valuation. The Appraisal being done by the Salesperson the Valuation being done by the Manager.

Let me share some of my key thoughts with you;

There are 3 Good Reasons why you should make the Part Exchange Appraisal a much earlier step in your sales process:

1. After the test drive is too late.
(you miss a massive opportunity to build credibility and create rapport)

2. Timing and planning are important.
(give yourself an opportunity sell properly)

3. Modern Customers want an experience not a pitch.
(give before you receive)

Let’s take each reason in turn:

1. After the test drive is too late.

The Part Exchange Appraisal is a brilliant opportunity to discover buying motives, and what the customer wants in their new car. It is also a brilliant opportunity to establish credibility and rapport with the prospect.

Plus, if you leave the Part Exchange Appraisal until after the test drive you move straight into negotiation and it all becomes very transactional. Your prospect is unlikely to be properly engaged beyond looking at the numbers, which means you have not built desire or credibility into your negotiation.

I accept that you should not talk numbers until after the test drive and after the presentation – no argument from me there.

But you can slot the Part Exchange Appraisal in much, much earlier. You need to link the Part Exchange Appraisal to defining requirements right up front – right there at the beginning of the sales process as the first step, after the Meet and Greet.

The sales person needs to introduce the Part Exchange to the customer on the basis that it is the Sales Manager’s job to value the customer’s car, the sales person is only responsible for appraising it. The sales manager is an expert at this and responsible for getting the very best possible price for the customer’s car.

So by doing the Appraisal early and the passing the details on to the Sales Manager it frees the customer up to relax and enjoy reviewing and considering all the New/Used car options available to them. (actually they have no choice because they will want to wait and find out what the estimated value of their car is!)

It gives them time to have all their questions answered. (Today’s buyer will have done their homework online before they visit your showroom.)

Then when the time is right, towards the end of the process, the sales person can talk numbers and deliver the evaluation and negotiate far more professionally!

2. Time and planning are important.

The main challenge with a late Part Exchange Appraisal is it puts enormous pressure on the sales team.

It can sometimes get manic in the dealership – 2 or 3 sales people all saying – “We’ve got a deal on!

Give me a price! Give me a price!”

The sales people are under pressure – they need their valuation there and then.

Sales Managers cannot possibly do the job to the best of their abilities under these circumstances. – Sound familiar?

Well if the Appraisal is done early in the process, the details passed to the Sales Manager without immediate pressure to respond because the customer is captured and engaged in the sales process it gives the sales manager time to properly structure a deal, and to value the part exchange.

In the old days the Sales Person would give a customer a hot cup of coffee – the hotter the better – generating at least 15 minutes to engage while the customer drinks it.

Doing the Part Exchange Appraisal earlier in the process is a much better version of this, same idea, but the customer isn’t likely to go anywhere while they are waiting for their Part Exchange price, so it buys the manager time and it buys the salesperson time.

An earlier Part Exchange Appraisal is a much more sensible approach.

3. Modern Customers want an experience not a pitch.

Dealing with motor industry sales people every day, I find when a prospect comes forward ready to buy, the typical thought process for most sales people is:

“How do I sell you a car?”
“How much money can I take off you?”
“How can I get you a deal?”

If I may be candid, this transactional mindset is outdated and inappropriate.

Sophisticated customers are likely to lose patience and ask to see the numbers Man – face to face. In reality, today’s customers are much more complex to deal with and they want a better shopping experience. But, ironically, if you deal with them properly they are easier to close!

The task is to ‘Facilitate’ the sale rather than ‘Make’ the sales


When you move the Part Exchange Appraisal forward to the front of your sales process you instantly improve the prospect experience, by allowing yourself time to handle the customer properly.

Of course the sales person needs to frame the Part Exchange Appraisal properly to the customer;

“Our expert (the sales manager) is busy now in the back office using all the tools available to him/her – phoning round, talking to others in the Group, visiting specialist websites… to get you the very best price for your car, whilst he is doing that let’s look at the car you would like to own…”

Do the Part Exchange Appraisal earlier rather than later. Present the evaluation at the end. Ditch the transactional approach and give your customers something truly experiential, and retain control of the whole process.