Selling your car can be a hassle, and it doesn’t stop after listing your car and putting a “For Sale” sign in the window. In seeking sales leads online, you’ll answer emails and phone calls, perhaps dozens, before making the sale, which can take an average of 60 days. Often, a lot of hassle stems from being unable to properly qualify every new lead and prospective buyer. Let’s face it, you don’t have the time to waste on phone calls and emails that won’t get you any closer to selling your car.
You’ll likely field many types of callers until you sell the car, such as dealers and low-ballers offering a fraction of your asking price, buyers “just looking around,” perfectionists looking for “the perfect car,” buyers who want your car but have no idea how to pay for it, and potential scammers. What kind of people are you looking for? What kind of questions can you ask? Here are some of the best questions to qualify prospective buyers over the phone or email and plan meaningful appointments and test drives.
Question 1: What Sparked Your Interest in My Car?
Why Ask? Saves Time Selling Something the Buyer Can’t Use
It is indeed amazing how many prospective used car buyers don’t really pay attention to the vehicles they call about. For example, if someone says they’re looking for a thrifty commuter car, why would you try to sell them a 4×4 that gets 15 mpg? Similarly, if someone is looking for a cheap family sedan, why would you try to sell them a $20,000 sports car? By asking why they called about your vehicle, specifically, you can weed out those “just calling around” and concentrate your attention on people looking for the vehicle you are selling.
Question 2: When Are You Planning to Buy?
Why Ask? Helps You Focus on Those Ready to Buy
This question can be a real time-saver. If someone is in a hurry to buy a used car, this might give you a bargaining chip in your favor, helping you to make a faster sale closer to your asking price. On the other hand, if someone is “just looking around” or isn’t in much of a hurry, you know they might not be serious about your car. Asking this question helps you to focus on those leads who are ready to buy within a couple of visits, to view and test-drive, maybe ask for a used car inspection, and making payment and signing papers.
Question 3: Are You a Used Car Dealer?
Why Ask? Be Prepared to Haggle to the Death
There’s nothing wrong with selling to a dealer, and you might want to consider it if it’s been longer than 90 days trying to sell your car. On the other hand, if you get to this point in attempting to sell your car, be prepared for some seriously low-ball offers. Unless you’re selling a car that’s really special, getting close to your asking price will be highly unlikely. By asking this question, you can weed out low-ball offers and focus on those willing to pay closer to your asking price.
Question 4: Do You Have a Driver’s License?
Why Ask? How Are They Going to Drive It?
Under no circumstances should you let an unlicensed person drive your vehicle, even if it’s “just around the block.” You could be held legally and financially responsible for personal injury or property damages. Additionally, while an unlicensed person would be able to legally take ownership of the vehicle, it would be difficult for them to insure and register it. By asking this question, you can weed out the hassle of dealing with a unique car-selling problem. In some cases, this might legitimately come up, such as a parent buying an unlicensed teen’s first car, but then you’ll be dealing with the next question.
Question 5: Are You Buying This Car for Yourself?
Why Ask? Saves Complications, but Toughens Negotiation
This usually happens when someone is buying a car for a family member, such as a parent buying a teen’s first car. There’s nothing wrong with selling to the parent but, because parents are usually not emotionally-involved in the purchase, they’re usually tough negotiators. You might not get your asking price or they may over-scrutinize your car, in the interest of their loved-one’s safety. Asking this question helps you determine who exactly you’re selling to, and whether you’re willing to deal with that person.
Question 6: How Are You Planning on Paying?
Why Ask? Weed Out Scammers and Those Who Haven’t Thought Things Through
If you’re selling under $2,000, cash is the universally-accepted form of payment. Most experts recommend a cashier’s check for anything over $2,000. Competent buyers will have already thought this out, considering their budget and how they plan on making the purchase. Don’t waste your time on someone who asks to make payments or plans to use a personal or business check. Generally, money orders and wire transfers are a sure sign someone is attempting to scam you.
In the end, qualifying prospective buyers over the phone or email will help you plan meaningful appointments and test drives, bringing your closer to finding the right buyer and making a sale. After getting leads online, taking phone calls, qualifying buyers, negotiating the price, and taking payment, be sure to check out our guide on all the paperwork you will need when selling your car to transfer ownership painlessly and quickly.