The test drive is an all-important part of the car buyer’s journey. It’s the customer’s chance to take their prospective new daily driver out on the open road. If the vehicle feels comfortable, is easy to drive, and doesn’t make any funny noises, the test drive could seal the deal. Here’s how the salesperson can optimize the experience to close the sale...
According to the 2016 Autotrader Car Buyer Journey, when asked to rate their satisfaction on a scale of 1-10, 81% of car buyers gave the test-driving process an 8-10 rating.
There’s no two ways about it. Car shoppers want to get in the driver’s seat and experience the vehicle. They want to push the buttons and feel the upholstery. By driving over potholes and making right and left turns, by listening to the engine roar then settle to a hush, potential car buyers begin to enjoy the car-shopping process.
Closing the deal is easier after an amazing test drive. But why is it so effective?
The Purpose of a Test Drive
Many a salesperson would argue that the test drive on its own sells cars. People come back from a 10-minute drive with only the numbers standing in the way. In a large portion of situations, that’s precisely the case.
It isn’t about showing the customer features and benefits; that’s what the sales walkaround is meant to do. It’s definitely not to show the salesperson’s vast knowledge of the car; the customer’s online research has already given them nearly everything they want to know. What a test drive does is allow the customer to connect with their prospective vehicle.
Something happens when a driver navigates an intersection in a busy metropolitan centre or accelerates on the highway. It’s a well-known fact that many drivers form emotional connections with their cars. And this connection can form as early as the maiden voyage (also known as the test drive.)
During a test drive, the customer envisions themselves as the vehicle owner already. “Can I picture owning this car? Will it fit in my garage? Does it have the safety features to keep my teenage son safe when he’s driving?” The driver is constantly asking themselves questions assuming that the vehicle is already their own.
This mentality can and should impact how your sales team views sending a customer out on a dealer plate.
What to Do Before the Test Drive
Confidence when driving the potential vehicle they’ll be buying is key for the consumer. It would be damaging and a little irresponsible to just toss the shopper the keys and let them go without any sort of pre-test drive explanation. This is where the walkaround is important.
Whether the customer feels they know the car well or not, the salesperson should perform a comprehensive walkaround. Features and benefits are the name of the game with a couple of underlying tones. As you go around, drop little nuggets like, “When you take it for a test drive, you’ll feel…” or “Notice on your test drive how the car acts…” It’s already positioning the customer in their mind to driving the car.
Use the information you gathered previously in their needs and wants assessment to highlight aspects of the vehicle they’ll connect with. Use emotional touch points like infotainment systems, safety, performance, and appearance.
As well, you should be reading body language and listening to determine if you have the right model or trim level for the customer to drive. And if you notice objections, you should attempt to address them before the customer drives the car.
The goal is to keep them in a positive frame of mind.
Lastly, get the customer comfortable in the driver’s seat. Show them how to adjust mirrors and seats, the steering wheel and pedals.
How the test drive should go
You could debate whether or not to send a customer out on a test drive alone or with the salesperson. Some would argue that the salesperson in the car detracts from the freedom of the experience while others would claim the salesperson can guide the test drive in a positive direction. It’s up to the dealership to set their own parameters.
Determine a route the driver will take, which both gives you a timeline for their return as well as the ability to round out their in-vehicle experience under various conditions. A low-traffic, right-turn-dominant route will boost their confidence behind the wheel and lead to an overall better experience.
Here’s where the customer connects deeply with the car. That’s why a smooth, positive experience is so important.
The post-test drive process
Once the customer returns to the dealership, the salesperson’s main job is to keep the customer positive and engaged with like, “What did you like the most about your test drive?” and “Did your car’s acceleration surprise you?”, or “What did you think about the Bose sound system?”
The customer’s positive answers will reinforce what they loved about the car.
If the customer wants the car after the test drive, they already feel they own it. And when negotiating afterward, remember that their mindset has changed from gaining a vehicle they don’t know to losing a car they love.
What about used cars?
The test drive is just as important–or more so–for pre-owned vehicles. Reliability is at the forefront of the customer’s mind, and the salesperson’s focus is to reassure the customer by highlighting safety features, professional-grade inspection, recent servicing, and more.
Canada Drives delivers a high volume of high-intent customers
When customers arrive pre-approved for finance before the test drive, they’ll feel like all they have to do is decide if the car is right for them. The numbers shouldn’t get in the way.
Canada Drives sends a steady stream of high-intent customers through your doors. We help car buyers across the credit spectrum to get pre-approved for finance and match them with a dealership that can help. We find the customer for you, so all you have to worry about is the test drive.