How Adaptable Are You?

Adaptability is an essential quality to have as a sales associate. When you deal with a lot of customers on a regular basis, there is not a “one-size-fits-all” way to handle each customer.

Unfortunately, not all sales associates understand this and make the mistake of having ONE way that they do business.

It is important to remember that customers are people, first and foremost, and each person will have different opinions, different needs, and different budgets.

You need to be able to relate to each customer on an individual basis regardless of how different they are. Relating to each customer is where the skill of adaptability comes in to play.

Building a rapport with each customer is an important step to remember and master if you want to be able to sell more cars.  Of course, it’s impossible to connect with every single person but the more customers you connect with, the better your overall sales numbers will be at month’s end.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing adaptability with faking it.  No one likes a fake salesperson.  There are many ways to be adaptable in a genuine way that will appeal to the customers you speak with each week.

Most of the potential car buyers you encounter will fall into one of four social styles: Analytical, Driver, Amiable, and Expressive.

Analytical – Your analytical customers want to hear the facts before they make any decisions. They don’t put much importance on personal opinion, and they like to hear about tangible results.

They want the pros and cons given in detail about the vehicle itself, the contract they will be signing to purchase the vehicle and anything else that involves the car or truck they are interested in purchasing.

When selling a vehicle to a car buyer who is analytical, it is important to remember a few important points.

  1. Be prepared with technical answers regarding the vehicles of interest. They are going to be more interested in hearing about improved gas mileage, easier handling, and increased safety due to features than how flashy it looks or how fun it is to drive.
  2. Have the information about the contract ahead of time and explain what will be included or not included in that contract. Analyticals want to know the facts so be ready with answers if they ask about what is in the sales contract and if there are any “extras” they need to know about upfront.
  3. Use facts, numbers and detailed descriptions whenever possible and don’t inflate the numbers to try and gain favor. Chances are the analytical car buyer already did some homework before arriving on your lot, so if your answers are in line with what they have already been reading, or you have solid answers as to why your numbers are different, you will have their interest.
  4. Warranties are usually of interest to analyticals due to the decrease in perceived risks that warranties provide. When you can provide solid benefits in fact form, that the warranty adds the analytical will have a lot more interest in adding a warranty or extended warranty to their vehicle purchase than if you try to “scare” them into it with what ifs or possibilities.

Driver – Drivers want to win, and like controlling the situations they are involved in, including purchasing a car. They typically like to make quick decisions and are not much for teamwork, preferring to handle things on their own.They are usually competitive and independent as well and have the objective in mind of reaching the goal, period.

If a potential car buyer comes into the dealership or calls and seems very direct and to the point (i.e., I want to buy a Ford Pickup, what do you have in stock?), chances are you are talking to a driver.

If your car buyer is a driver, keep the following points in mind when talking to them:

  1. Be straight and to the point. Small talk is annoying and not necessary with a driver; they would much rather come in, get to the point, and get the goal reached.  Don’t ask them how their day is going or how their family is, just go straight to the topic at hand…selling them a car.  This doesn’t mean be cold, it just means do not waste their time with small talk.
  2. Provide drivers with options. They like to be in control, and the best way to offer that control is letting them choose options where there are opportunities to choose such as special packages that a vehicle may have, length of payment terms, color choices, if applicable, and other points important to the car buying process. If you know ahead of time that they are interested in a couple of different vehicles, provide them with the information about both and ask questions such as “which vehicle would you like to test drive first”? And other similar questions to let them control as much of the process as possible.
  3. Don’t provide them with “fluff” choices or options. Dealing with a driver is not about giving them contrived choices.  There are many things that you can allow the car buyer to control without losing the deal or any money on the sale.  In fact, the more legitimate choices they have, the more they are likely to purchase from you and purchase extras as well, especially if you provide the benefits of the different choices.

Amiable – This type of car buyer is the opposite of the two types we have already discussed. They love and value the relationship aspect of their everyday activities.  Chances are, they know the name of their bank teller, the cashier at the grocery store they frequent, and they enjoy small talk.

Amiables are not controlling, and in the wrong hands, they can be taken advantage of easily.  If you encounter an amiable car buyer, you need to treat them with respect and not try and sell them the farm.

If you are trustworthy, interested in THEM as people beyond selling the car, and prove yourself to be upfront and honest, you will have them as a customer and champion for life.

Not only will they come back to you for every car they ever purchase, but they will bring their kids to you to buy their cars and tell everyone they know about you as well. When selling to an amiable remember these important points.

  1. Amiables focus on long-term solutions to problems, so focus on learning what problems they want to solve and then lead them to the solutions to those concerns. “Why” is the main question to focus on with an amiable. For example, why is this car better than this other one over here? Answers could be better gas mileage, typically lasts longer, etc.
  2. Small talk is usually enjoyed by an amiable, but don’t go too far. A little bit of small talk conversation interspersed with information about the cars they are interested in will appeal to them.  They are also likely to be pleased when you remember specific points that they may have shared on the phone such as the number of children they have or something their child has accomplished lately.
  3. Don’t ever try to take advantage of an amiable, or ANY car buyer. As much as an amiable can talk positively about you, they can also sound off negatively if you cross them or try to take advantage of them.  Word of mouth is VERY powerful; make sure that the word of mouth “advertising” you are getting is always positive as much as possible.
  4. Dedication to solving their problems, whether it is finding a specific vehicle they want, finding the perfect price point, or solving financing problems means a lot to an amiable. When you show that you are dedicated and focused on helping them get what they want, you will establish loyalty that will last decades.

Expressive – Expressive types are very creative and love to talk about the next big idea so chatting briefly about an innovation they may have heard of will be very interesting to an expressive.

They also usually see the big picture very clearly and are not as concerned with the tiny details the way analyticals and drivers may be. Expressives are more about how something makes them feel.

Expressives also respond to relationships, so take the time to develop a rapport with them in the beginning stages.

You will find that expressives want you on their “side”  so looking for opportunities to agree with their train of thought or a specific vehicle they have in mind and why will go a long way with them.

This does NOT mean schmoozing them and agreeing just to agree.  They can see fake easily and this will hurt you. Keep these points in mind when selling to an expressive.

  1. Don’t throw a bunch of facts and figures at an expressive; it bores them. Take the time to discuss the big picture, even what is happening globally.When you are presenting vehicles and options to them, focus on their feelings and ask how they feel about the vehicle, the contract, and the choices you are offering, etc.
  1. Expressives are very feeling consumers so approaching them from a standpoint of how they feel will reassure them that you have their best interests at heart. Again, be sincere and don’t try to be “smooth” or fast-talking.

Using Your Skills

Now that you are aware of the four basic types of consumer, it is important to understand why and how adaptability is so important.  You are very rarely going to get a consumer that is ONLY one type.

This is where observation and adaptability will be used the most.  Your customer may be an analytical with expressive tendencies, or they could be an amiable that also wants to hear the facts.

Use your adaptive skills to incorporate what both types usually need.  For example, if your customer is an analytical/amiable, you want to present the facts and figures quickly and upfront, while at the same time adding in some questions about their family or the latest football scores if they have told you that they love a specific team.

Be sincere, be sincere, be sincere!  We can’t stress the importance of this enough.  Choosing to be smooth, fake, or dishonest will not only lose you the sale it will hurt you in the long term too when they tell everyone their opinion of how you tried to smooth-talk them.  It takes some time to develop excellent adaptability skills, but it is one of the most important sales skills you can learn.

You will find that the ability to adapt to each customer as an individual will increase sales as you prove yourself to be the type of sales associate that puts the time in to get to know what the consumer wants and needs.

Adaptability is not dishonest; it is simply learning to sell someone a vehicle in the way that works best for them, so they are pleased with their purchase.

It is the same principle used in learning styles where a teacher will learn to teach one child one way and another child another way that works better for that specific child. The more adaptive you can be with your customers, the more you can sell a car too successfully.


Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are just learning how to be adaptable. Even the most seasoned sales associates will not get every single sale.

You want to keep in mind that while the objective is to sell vehicles, these people you are selling have lives, feelings, family, friends, problems, and concerns.  They are people first, customers second.

Learning to adapt to your customers on an individual, a more personal level will automatically result in higher conversions and happy customers that will be back.

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