The words dealers use to make you buy a car

October 24, 2016

If you've ever had to participate in a leadership seminar or management training workshop, you know some of the keys to good communication:

You also know to avoid technical jargon and empty phrases and instead use terms that folks can understand. Car dealers know it, too, and that's how they nudge you toward buying a new ride.

On the technical front, terms like "torque" and "horsepower" are ones that good salespeople usually avoid--unless of course, they're asked directly by consumers. That's because some shoppers don't understand what those terms mean at all, and even those who do might not comprehend the difference between, say, 50 hp and 100 hp. 

Instead, most salespeople will use terms like "passing". Every driver has been stuck behind a slowpoke and needed the power to zip around them--it's a situation that everyone can relate to, whether or not they understand auto mechanics. Describing a car's passing ability is a way of talking about torque and horsepower without turning consumers off. Nothing is quite as annoying as heading a staffer condescendingly spout off a list of tech specs solely for the purpose of dazzling a consumer with her/his knowledge. 

Similarly, sales staff who've been around the block a few times will remove words like "amazing", "incredible", and, worst of all, "great" from their vocabularies. They're the verbal equivalent of empty calories, just there to sound nice and take up space.

Customers typically respond better to words that convey specific effects or characteristics. Describing a car's ride as "smooth" gives shoppers a better sense of how the vehicle's suspension is tuned than if a salesperson simply says that it's "awesome"--or worse, talks about specifics of the suspension.

Is this a bad thing, using key words and phrases to instill trust? Not at all. In fact, it's a great thing when people who are around cars all day and who know them better than most shoppers can shift gears and talk about vehicles in lay terms that make consumers comfortable. It's a perfect example of empathy--something that America could use a little more of, now that this bitter, divisive election season is coming to a close.

If you work in sales--whether you sell cars, sprockets, or widgets--let us know if there are words you use specifically to instill trust in your clients.

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