To the customer, price, payment, trade in value are the most important aspects of their visit to an internet site or to a dealership.
In most cases, they have already done their homework and have decided on maybe one or two vehicles and are now in the finding out what is the best deal mode. In many cases they want to see the vehicle or vehicle they are interested in and maybe even drive the vehicle to measure the comfort level, acceleration and how it feels to them.
It is the Salesperson's job to narrow down those multiple decisions down to one vehicle or in the internet lead department to get them to come in to make sure of selection. If they can do that, they have a great chance of selling a vehicle. If they don't, they are going to rush around getting a lot of information for the customer to "Think About" or give away all profit on an internet lead.
All customers think all dealerships, all Managers and all salespeople are desperate to sell a vehicle and they feel that using other models or other dealerships will help their case regarding price, payment or trade in value.
Remember that out of all of the vehicle on the internet and on your lot, the customer has picked out the two or three most popular models at the present time. What do you sell your most popular and high demand vehicles for? If I have to answer that, you are in the wrong business.
I the customer has not made a definite selection, the price, payment of trade will never be good enough.
I learned this simple procedure that helps every bad situation a customer, salesperson or manager allows to happen.
No matter what the objection, return to selection! If the trade value is not high enough, don't waste time on trying to get closer to their figure, go back to selection of the new or used vehicle.
Basically, I learned to say this in a closing or hostile situation. "Is this the vehicle you want to show to your neighbor, take on vacation and park in your driveway?" "If it isn't that vehicle. Then lets spend some time on finding you that vehicle." One of two things will happen. They will either agree with you that selection is not perfect or they will say yes it is and lets get back to price, payment or trade.
That little verification is for them, not you. Once they have decided to own a vehicle, they will negotiate fairly, since they do not want to lose what took so long to decide on.
Another good close is; "We find a majority of our customers that find the vehicle they want to own, they want it yesterday" If you don't what this vehicle we are working on yesterday, we are on the wrong vehicle!" "Is this that vehicle?" Once again, one or two things will happen and they both will be good!
That is why I always train my salespeople to sell the people what they want, negotiate and then sell them what we have!
Frankly, given the choices presented in your post my answer would have to be none of the above! Similarly, my experience suggests that your final thought to sell them what you have also misses the mark; in my humble opinion..
As simple as it sounds, the part missing in your question and answer is the people part of the process. If the initial meeting and greeting is focused on listening and learning the customer's wants qualified by their needs followed by an honest evaluation of your inventory to determine the vehicle(s) that fit you are on the right track.
Of course if the vehicle is not in-stock then you have a dilemma. Do you force a square peg into a round h*** to make a fast sale that will eventually leave the customer sorry that they trusted you or do you invest in a relationship that will last by risking a be-back to locate the vehicle that they actually need and now want based on your trusted advice.
Relationships are the true asset of any dealership and my answer would be to focus on making a friend who turns into a customer even if it means that you have to service a vehicle that he winds up finding and purchasing elsewhere. I can afford to lose a single sale but I can't afford to lose a customer.
Giving the customer the choice of exactly what they want sounds like a dealer and inventory manager's nightmare... An accepted figure of 80% of customers "switch" from their initial choice on their own. Walking the inventory is a proven way to meet a customer's expectation(s) taking their brochure / internet color charts to real metal. It never ceases to amaze me how clients switch from dark to light or silver to red based on extraneous trim (black, painted or chrome) and how that looks on a given vehicle. (Example: black fender moldings against white truck) My first priority is the pick... before qualification, price, trade and the rest. Another thought is that nearly all prospective car buyers know (or perceive) that in stock costs less. When salespeople become order takers, they should not be surprised when they are replaced by a kiosk. Good Selling! DTG
What I did as a salesperson and what I train salespeople to do are entirely different things. I can get myself into a pickle and I have the ability to get my self out. I know when to confront a customer and how to do it in a professional and productive way.
If a customer comes in and says he is looking for a red vehicle and the salesperson knows he does not have one, what is his response? That varies on experience and how well trained the salesperson is. You will never get an internet lead asking if you have a vehicle, because that is why they came to your site. They want to know if you still have it and what the price is. If you no longer have it, the odds go way up that they will not come in.
If a customer comes in and says he saw that red one on the internet and wants to see it and the salesperson knows it just got delivered, what will he or she say? Once again, that varies. However, I do know that if you tell that first time up (not a previous customer or be back) that it is gone, he may stay around to long enough to get a price on what you have, but the fight has now gone up hill. There are many salespeople out there who know how to handle this. They don't need the training. You always set your dealership and your procedures based on your weakest salespeople, not your best. Make sure you are not doing a flying T.O. when the customer is leaving your lot without coming in or looking at your inventory. If you happen to catch them, you will tell them whatever you need to tell them to get them back in. I bet you will tell them you will find them another one and make them smile (locate). Once in control, you will then try to switch them. Same thing your asking your salespeople to do to take control.
New people should be trained to take inventory walks and point out new colors or different packages and work on selecting a vehicle in inventory. Larger stores should have house demos of the most popular models that are cleaned, full of gas and plated to make it easier for new salespeople to get demos and slow people down and sell themselves and the dealership.
If we could put a whole sales force of mini me s out there, this business would be easy. Once they perfect cloning, all of us recruiters and trainers will be out of business.
By the way, we are all saying the same things.