Selling Tips

The New Sales Puzzle
 What's it spell for you?

 It's easy to sell hybrids.
Here's how to sell the rest.

As gas prices continue to fluctuate, new and  used, fuel-efficient vehicles are still in demand for a certain segment of buyers-and currently average about three percent of the market per year. Generally, as gas prices rise the demand for hybrids does too , and even some older-model hybrids are gaining new interest — the MY isn’t nearly as important as the mpg.

High-mpg-electrics, hybrids and four-cylinder models-cars sell themselves for car buyers who place a premium on “being green.” But what about dealers who don’t carry high-mpg vehicles? Don’t worry — there are still buyers for your products. If you need to pull a trailer or a boat, your local dealership can find the vehicle for you.

Consumers should know that anytime they buy a vehicle — new or used — that gets better gas mileage than their current one, it's a green move. Even if it's an improvement of only a few mpgs. Some are surprised at how much better gas mileage they can get with just a newer model of the same vehicle they're driving.

Here are some tips for getting customers excited about your existing fleet:

Tip 1 Focus on customers who need larger models. “Concentrate on the soccer moms — they have no choice,” says Brenckman. “If they have two kids, a car with only five seat belts may not work for them. They have to carpool, and you can’t take everyone to soccer in a subcompact, because there aren’t any with seven seat belts.” Get the customer thinking in terms of seat belts, and they’ll realize they still need that SUV, says Brenckman. And tout the current bonanza of rebates on larger vehicles. Other customers may have unique needs requiring, say, pickups or convertibles.
Tip 2 Give away gas discount cards. “Tell customers, ‘Any vehicle you buy from us, the first $1,000 of gas is on us,’ ” says Brenckman. “‘All the trucks I sell get 35 mpg’ ” because of the gas card.
Tip 3 Compare new models to their predecessors. Most new cars on your lot get higher mileage than the older vehicles of the same type that customers are driving now.
Tip 4 Explain how hybrids may not work for everyone. For one thing, the total silence when a vehicle starts up or comes to a stop is unnerving to some people. At Park Ford, Akron, Sales Manager Rex Todhunter reminds customers that “you’ve got to have a lot of city driving and stop-and-go traffic for that hybrid to work for you.” Also, the premium they’d pay for a hybrid would take years to recoup. “I tell them, ‘You’re better off getting a four-cylinder.’ A lot of customers end up agreeing.”
Tip 5

Mention your models’ green elements. Example: Ford’s 2008 Mustang, F-150, Expedition, and Lincoln Navigator feature the market’s first soy-based seat foam. The maker says its new product will reduce carbon dioxide by more than 600,000 lb. annually. Ford also uses seat fabric made from recycled plastics and polyester, saving water, electricity, and carbon dioxide emissions. Remind customers that even nonhybrids are making environmental contributions.

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