Original Concept Copyright © August 2009 by Mike Phillips and Joe McCloskey Jr.

To buy or not?This is a great set of “rules” to consider in conjunction with whatever your selling process may be, you need to understand that buyers have a set of questions that they ask themselves when making a purchase, a sort of “Buying Process” if you will.  So in tonight’s blog, I explore a training article that was written last year to assist our sales team with the customers “Buying Process.”

5 Questions That Each Buyer Ask Themselves

Consumers ask these questions of themselves when planning on a purchase; any purchase from a coffee maker to a Cadillac to dating and finding a spouse.  The questions are ALWAYS asked in order and once answered are able to either justify a purchase, or allow them to “change their mind” once the need becomes obsolete or the pain of fulfilling that need becomes greater than the potential gain.

  1. Do I have a need?
    1. Most car buyers will determine this before hitting the lot and shopping
    2. Vacuum salespeople are taught to create need – because people may not realize that they have a need
  2. HOW will I fill my need?
    1. Mostly sub-prime customers
    2. Payment conscious buyers (will allow credit prior to looking at vehicles)
    3. Our current process is designed for most buyers asking themselves this question (This is the HOW)
  3. WHO/WHAT will fill my need?
    1. This is the traditional car buyer – “Car ‘em up!” (sell the vehicle prior to credit, etc.)
    2. These people are not worried about the HOW, just WHO they are going to do business with.
    3. Sell by using hot buttons
    4. When this is the dominant question credit will normally follow the demo drive.
    5. When a sub-prime buyer is told that they are approved; this is when they develop “credit-muscles” and become a buyer, so they now have to determine – WHO/WHAT
    6. Price questions here are a smokescreen and can easily be bypassed
  4. Price?
    1. How much will this cost me?
    2. Most internet specific buyers are at this stage.
    3. Price is more emotionally charged; there is more excitement in the value/price than in the hot buttons.
    4. Logical buyers – “ego-stroke” to change to charge their emotions
  5. TIME?
    1. Once all of the other questions are answered, that is the first question, “How long will this take?”
    2. Do I have the time to do this?  My time is worth something.

Someone on the last two questions, #4 or #5, HAS TO have a more efficient buying process, they have already answered the prior questions and just want to complete everything efficiently.


Control is created as each consumer question is asked at each stage and is determined by the salespersons response to the internal question.  For example:

Question 2 – cast doubt, if the consumer has a question on ability to finance for example, they will stay with the salesperson, or organization that offers potential gain and potential approval.

Question 3 – emotional attachment (to vehicle or salesperson)

Questions 4 & 5 – best deal, shortest amount of time.  A consumer at this stage has to feel that their money and their time are both of value – GREAT VALUE!


You must ask the following questions.  Questions allow you to get feedback from the customer and when asking you must stop long enough to LISTEN to the answer, they will certainly help you in determine where the customer is at and unfolding their buying strategy.

  1. “How much did you anticipate spending?”
  2. (Followed up with) “How did you arrive at that figure?”

There are only three possible responses to those questions

1. “I’ll know when I see the right car.”

  • They are on Question 3 – They are not worried about the HOW just the WHO or WHAT
  • A good response here is, “Just to narrow it down, would you like to see, $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 vehicles?”

2. “Overall price quote” – (ex. $12,000)

  • Respond with, “How did you arrive at that figure?” (Again only two replies)
  1. The source of their cash – or re-affirmation of the amount (Here they are also on Question 3 – still not worried about the HOW)
  2. Payments – usually means that they are on Question 2 (How can I get my payments to work out where I need them –or- can these people help me?)
    • Payment response, “Your budget is way to important for me to guess at, instead of guessing…”

3. “The least amount that I have to.” – or – “As little as possible.”

  • Respond with, “ A lot of people are willing to spend a little bit more to get what they want; is that true with you?” (If yes – Question 3 – wants are hot buttons)
  1. If NO – “A lot of people are willing to spend a little bit more for reliability, is that true with you?” (If yes – Question 3 – reliability is a hot button)
  2. If NO – “Okay, are you more concerned with the overall cash price or what you payments will be?
  3. “So is the reason you want a less expensive car, because you think it will be easier to finance?” (If yes – Question 2)

It is not possible to be on Question 4 unless they know what specific vehicle they want to purchase (i.e. internet customer, pre-qualified buyer).  Question 5 generally only comes into play after they have fulfilled Question 4 or in conjunction with Question 4.