Car Buyer Profiles: Understanding Your Customers and How to Sell to Them

Car buyers come in different types—they are looking for different things, motivated by different things and react to different things. In order to successfully sell to these disparate car buyers, it is essential for dealerships and their sales teams to understand each personality type and its accompanying behavior, then become skilled at recognizing them and knowing how to approach them.

To help define each of these buyers, we’ve outlined some specific profiles to help dealerships better identify, connect and communicate with their customers. We’ve also included tips for selling a vehicle service contract (VSC) to each of these buyers.


The Cross-Comparison Buyer is one of the most common types of buyers and will take their time to research their options—browsing everything from luxury cars, to used cars, to new models on the market. They will spend hours online comparing dealerships, models, features and prices. These buyers are organized and will use the facts and data they’ve gathered to guide their decision.


Provide this type of buyer with lots of information and statistics. They will become more comfortable when they feel informed. Stay organized and give them marketing collateral that clearly outlines facts and features in a comprehensive way. Talk at a moderate pace, use your hands to emphasize talking points and involve the customer in the discussion to gather insights on their values and opinions. Be mindful that during negotiation, the Cross-Comparison Buyer will most likely avoid conflict.

Decided Buyer | Budco FinancialTHE DECIDED BUYER PERSONALITY

The Decided Buyer does little to no cross-comparison shopping, instead they usually know exactly what they want and will do extensive research on one or two particular vehicles. These buyers are often brand loyalists and will only look at and visit specific dealerships. They are action and goal oriented, valuing cutting-edge technology, innovative design and competitive results. These buyers will use facts and data to make a decision, but can be influenced by competitive benefits.


Avoid casual or personal talk with this type of buyer and get right down to business. Reinforce what they already like about the vehicle that’s caught their eye and position that particular model as innovative and desirable. Keep up with their talking pace, follow their lead, be confidently assertive in your demeanor and use data to drive the customer’s decision home. Be mindful that during negotiation, the Decided Buyer may become dominant and aggressive.

Undecided Buyer | Budco FinancialTHE UNDECIDED BUYER PERSONALITY

The Undecided Buyer tends to do little to no research and has a hard time figuring out what he or she wants, so they show up to a dealership open to ideas. They are people-oriented and like to collaborate, build relationships, see what other people think and avoid conflict at all costs. These buyers will use opinions and feelings over facts and data to make a decision.


Treat this type of buyer as a friend—offer them refreshments, sit down with them, talk to them, get to know them and express interest in their job, their family and their life. Once you have established rapport with them, they will become more trusting and open to your suggestions. Offer this type of customer lots of  hands-on vehicle exploration and test-drives to help them make a decision, as they often won’t know what to choose until they can experience a vehicle that feels right. Be mindful that during negotiation, the Undecided Buyer will tend to comply with you and lean towards your recommendation.

Bargain Buyer | Budco Financial


The Bargain Buyer uses basic research and aggressive negotiation tactics to get the lowest price possible. They are extremely price sensitive and often go to dealerships insisting on unrealistic discounts due to a lack of pricing knowledge and understanding. They have decided it’s the perfect time to buy a vehicle for, often for financial-related reasons including tax incentives, high trade value, low interest rates, high rebates or a desire to adjust their monthly car payments. These buyers will make a decision based on the best deal.


This type of buyer will often have cash in hand or have a pre-approved loan to finance a vehicle that day, so quickly get a sense of what they’re looking for, what their budget is and which features that are important to them. Keep up with their pace, but guide the conversation and play up the value of each car by noting both exciting features and affordability. Be mindful that during negotiation, the Bargain Buyer will relentlessly fight for rock bottom pricing.

Change Buyer | Budco FinancialTHE CHANGE BUYER PERSONALITY

The Change Buyer is experiencing a recent life event that has triggered a need to change their vehicle situation. The event can include an income adjustment, a change in family size or a totaled vehicle. These buyers have done some research and have an idea of what type of vehicle they want and how much they are looking to spend, but require extensive guidance to make the right choice and will use both facts and opinions to make a decision.


There are two types of Change Buyers—Positive and Negative. Positive Change Buyers are excited about their life change and embrace the idea of getting a new vehicle, while Negative Change Buyers are anxious about their life change and nervous about buying. Either way, you will need to lead them to a solution. Be appropriately supportive of their situation and budget, then do what you can to get them fired up about the features and financial benefits offered by each model they like. Be mindful that during negotiation, the Change Buyer will be reasonable.

Impulse Buyer | Budco FinancialTHE IMPULSE BUYER PERSONALITY

The Impulse Buyer skips the research process and instead, shows up at a single dealership, picks out a car, test drives it and negotiates a deal all in the same day. They are open to options, care heavily what others think of them and often make rash decisions. Sometimes, they still owe on their current car but want to get an upgrade anyway. These buyers will use opinions and stories over facts to make decisions.


Try to get as much information as you can out of this buyer by engaging them in friendly conversation. By getting a better understanding of things like their career, life stage, family situation, financial situation, how long they typically keep a car for and what they like in a car, you can help them find a vehicle that they will consider an upgrade but can still reasonably afford. Control the pace of the conversation and business interactions, make direct eye contact and use positive phrasing and reinforcements. Be mindful that during negotiation, the Impulse Buyer may resort to personal attack.


For buyers who cannot afford to roll their VSC into their vehicle financing, be sure to offer them an Installment Payment Plan (IPP). Budco Financial specializes in simple, comprehensive payment plans that allow your customers to enjoy the benefits of a VSC while paying for it over time. To learn more about IPPs, visit Budco Financial online.

Want more dealership and VSC sales advice? Follow Budco Financial on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter today.

SOURCES | WardsAuto, SalesHQ, Edmunds, Midway



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