Things HAVE changed! Customer buying habits have changed. The entire world has changed the way we do business and buy just about everything.
ONE of the most significant things I've reinforced that's made a dramatic impact on sales is to discuss a customer's budget, NOT PRICE ON THE LOT, but MORE emphasis discussing budget during fact finding. Some dealers are very emphatic NOT to discuss it (just show the customer a car they want and spend 1-2 hrs in a closing marathon which usually results in more lost sales or very low gross profits) while others are realizing that showing a vehicle within a budget (start low and let the customer raise themselves on price & equipment) usually results in higher gross profits, less negotiating time, happier customers, and much higher CSI scores. (if you examine all your lost deals, outside of the things you can't always control- severe negative equity, bad credit, etc, the next major reason is we lose the deal is simply because the customer just can't afford the payment and this CAN be controlled)
DETERMINE the need, FILL the need, WITHIN THE BUDGET and your closing ratio will begin to increase immediately.