Confessions of a Car Man


The Sound Of Silence

Before I get into any more detail about the mechanics of a write-up, I want to talk about the most effective close known by Car Men: silence. It’s so easy. All you have to do is learn when to shut your mouth, but it’s also the hardest close for many Car Men to learn and use effectively. Why? Because we like to talk, and no one likes the sound of silence!

Over the last forty years I have found that the old adage “less is more” applies perfectly to a car deal. In training, budding Car Men are taught what they should or should not say in a given situation. Closing a deal is almost always tied directly to eliciting a response from the customer, but little or no time is taken to teach you the art of keeping your mouth shut when it’s appropriate and allow the customer to answer the question.

Silence is against a Car Man’s nature—bullshit is—so we’re always trying to come up with magic closing words when words may not be necessary. Ever listen to the radio and all of a sudden no is speaking? That’s called “dead air” and it’s a basic broadcast “no-no”. I want you to think about what goes through your mind when you encounter dead air. Does it make you feel a little uncomfortable? What the hell is going on, you ask yourself? Do you switch to another station just to make sure there isn’t some national disaster going on? Well you can use that same tension to help you sell a car!

Just like you, customers don’t like silence either. It makes them feel uncomfortable. It makes them want to say something to fill the gap, but no one has taught them to fight the temptation to speak. So keep this in mind as we go through the subtleties of writing up a deal and closing it.

The simple rule is this: Once you are in the booth, if you ask a closing question, DO NOT say anything else until there is a response from your customer. An example: “My boss says the payments are going to be $450 per month. How is that?” You now SHUT UP AND WAIT! At that moment time slows down. Ten seconds feels like a minute; twenty seconds an eternity. You can feel the tension rise as you await an answer. More importantly, the customer feels it too. Maybe worse than you, because the question and an expect response is aimed at him!

Imagine yourself in this situation: Joe Carman is sitting across from you. He’s asked you to buy the car and now waits patiently for your reply, his smiling face looking into yours. The tension starts to build. You sit there and smile back at him. Do you say yes or no? After what seems like an hour your eyes begin to bulge, your palms begin to sweat. But Joe just sits and waits. He’s as patient as Buddha. Who will win? Who speaks first? You or him?

This is the battlefield where many a car deal is made or lost. This is where the rubber really does meet the road. Many times the deal is lost because a lot of salesmen crack under the pressure. They can’t stand the silence either (who does?). They crack first and say something stupid and the moment is gone. They lose.

Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen when you ask a closing question and shut up? The customer might finally say “No freaking way am I going to pay $450!” If he does, then you start would-you-taking him again until you get another commitment. But if you stand your ground and keep your trap shut sometimes, especially when it becomes obvious to your customer that you’re not going to back down first, he’ll say the magic word: “Yes.”

Bingo! You’ve got yourself a deal!

So remember, as we go along, the sound of silence. It should be music to your ears if you’ve got the testicular fortitude to do it right. Keep it in mind as we explore the inner workings of a successful write-up. Can you do it?

And at this point I will shut up and wait for your answer.