Inside The Mind of the World's Toughest Buyer

Toughest Buyer

If we can crack the code of what’s going on in the mind of the hardest person to sell to on the planet, we can sell to anyone!

This weekend, we (my husband, my daughter and I) went car shopping. Our initial strategy was to buy a new vehicle for my husband to drive until my son was ready to go off to medical school – when he would take the new car. So we were “shopping” on behalf of a family member who wasn’t there. And all three of us are different types of buyers with different buying objectives and styles. (Sound familiar?)

You'll see some familiar parallels to your prospects, their feelings and their objections (spoken and unspoken).

Here's my story:

We are a very practical family. But we have our quirks. My husband is very analytical and researches extensively before he makes a decision. I’m the toughest buyer you’ve met. I know what I like and what I don’t like. My daughter would have bought every single car we looked at. She was excited and showed it (I think she worked for the dealerships!)

We buy dependable, quality cars and drive them forever. So our purchases are long term and we don’t make them lightly. We visited 3 dealerships and looked at countless vehicles. The first dealership is the one we expected to buy from, but left disappointed. At the second dealership we were window shopping out of our price range and we told the salesman we weren’t serious buyers. The third dealership was a spontaneous visit and turned out to be the best experience.

At two of the dealerships, the salesman made comments about how tough I was to sell to. Salesman #1 took my daughter aside and said, “Your mom is tough! Is she a lawyer? What would it take to get her to buy?” My daughter retorted, “Give her what she wants!” (Good advice!)

I confess: I am the hardest person on the planet to sell to. If you can sell to me, you can sell to anyone.

Here’s how to sell to the toughest buyer on the planet.

  1. Don’t blow smoke up their skirt. We pick up on that right away and then our defenses go up even more. At dealership #1, they made feeble attempts to personally connect. We knew what we wanted to see, but they insisted on following their “steps”. They weren’t genuine or natural and didn’t match our tone. They’d have been better off skipping the attempts and just giving us what we wanted (show us the product). Be genuine and be flexible.
  2. Don’t “fabricate” a discount. Dealership #1 had sticker pricing (with discount) posted on the vehicle and when it was time to negotiate “their best price”, they put on a production: kept us waiting for 10 minutes while they brought out the “manager” who showed us a website, printed out a quote with “best price”, only to end up a half hour later at the very same price on the vehicle sticker. We were insulted. Just tell people the truth.
  3. Show them options based on their feedback. We went into dealership #1 with a particular vehicle in mind. But after the test drive (tour) we were clearly lackluster and communicated that there was no “wow” factor. The salesman offered nothing (and lost the sale). At dealership #3, when we were looking at a different vehicle and complained that we were looking for a bit of “wow” factor, the salesman said, “Oh, if you’re looking for “wow” factor, you should see this…” and he steered us to a different vehicle that we hadn’t yet considered. Coincidently, that is the vehicle that we eventually decided on. Yes, it’s an upgrade in price also.
  4. Handle their unspoken, but clear, objections. I mentioned my husband is a heavy researcher. He knew everything about every vehicle we planned to consider. And he researched (on the spot) all the ones we hadn’t planned on.

Dealership #1 salesman actually contradicted the research my husband presented. He practically argued with him…which cost him credibility. By contrast, when presented with online ratings, Dealership #3 salesman offered additional sites showing the vehicle’s high ratings. He added to my husband’s knowledge and fed his need for information in a positive way.

Interesting conclusions:


Because of dealership #3’s salesmanship, we are likely going to spend more than our anticipated budget. He gently guided us, responded to our concerns and “upgraded” us naturally.

Within an hour of leaving dealership #1, we got a call from a different sales manager who thanked us for coming in. It was a nice touch, but she didn’t offer anything new (plus we had already left). While at dealership #3, the manager stopped by to introduce himself, and told us about a few perks of buying from their dealership (free car washes, oil changes and tire rotations for 2 years). He also made personal connections with us (kids go to same school). The difference is, they gave us what we wanted first (show us the product) and then we were open to connecting personally.

You can definitely sell to the toughest buyer on the planet. And when you do, it’s likely to be a good size sale and they will be very loyal to you.

Sell to them the way they want to be sold – sometimes that’s information first, sometimes that’s a very clear value proposition, sometimes that’s letting them lead the sales process…and sometimes, its all 3! Be friendly – but genuine. Be helpful and flex with their comments to show them options they haven’t considered. At the end of the day, people buy PEOPLE.

Happy Selling!

Mona Hilton is the CEO of Occupancy Advantage.