Selling Cars Online or Offline: How to Double Your Demo Drive Percentage!


Can we all agree that if we doubled our demo drive percentage, we could double our write up percentage? Great. Now, can we agree that if we doubled our write up percentage, we could double our closing percentage? Outstanding.

Since we all agree on this, let’s shift our primary focus in the dealership away from the last half of the road-to-the-sale and concentrate on doubling the middle (the demo drive is generally Step 5 or 6 of 10-12 steps for most dealerships’ road-to-the-sale). Hitting our numbers would be a whole lot easier if we could double the number of bodies we put behind the wheel.

They’re Here to Buy Today

As we’ve already learned in this series, today’s average car buyer visits fewer than two physical lots before they buy. That’s not because salespeople are doing a better job of closing high-funnel prospects; it’s because the prospects showed up armed with all the knowledge they needed. They just want to test drive your vehicle and make a deal.

However, even though most buyers arrive on the lot today ready for the test drive, why is it (when we accurately track every Up) so many salespeople still fail to generate an adequate demo drive percentage?

The answer: Most salespeople are not following a process. Any process.

As I’ve written before, even a bad process is better than no process, because you can measure and improve a bad process. In fact, I recommend that before diving in and changing your current process, you start enforcing it – even if it was written in the 1980s – and then measure and improve the steps.

You see, if you’re unwilling to enforce your current process, I can guarantee that bringing in a new and improved process will do little to sell you any more cars. Moreover, trying to force a new process onto a team that’s not used to being held accountable to anything might even increase your turnover temporarily.

Not because you instilled accountability (real accountability is always a net-positive), but because you’ll likely huff and puff and threaten and cajole about the new process without holding anyone responsible for consistently following the steps beyond the first few days.

Ugh, Just Tell Me How to Double My Demo Drives!

Process talk is boring, I get it. But just remember that every dealer who is growing share, improving inventory turn, increasing net profits and reducing sales team turnover is doing it with solid adherence to simple, repeatable processes.

Nothing magical; just boring old processes.

Doubling your demo drive percentage is as simple as changing your initial meet and greet question to this:

“Hi, welcome to Steve’s Cars, what vehicle did you come to test drive today.”

If the Up answers with a traditional smoke screen like, “Oh, we’re just looking;” or “We’re not sure; we just started our search;” then you take them back to Step 1 of your traditional road-to-the-sale. Nothing in your traditional process is changed.

However, it might shock you the way most Ups will answer that question today:

“Actually, we were looking at the 2015 Civic you’ve got on”

Your response? Simply:

“Great. Let me get your license scanned so you can take that Civic out on a test drive.”

Most prospects will appreciate this, since most prospects arrive on your lot today ready for the test drive. They’ll hand over their license as you walk them to the license scanner or kiosk. During the walk and while at the kiosk, you introduce yourself and ask your needs analysis and qualification questions.

That’s it. It’s simple. It’s intuitive. It’s seamless. It’s transparent. It’s efficient.

Oh, and when done right, it doubles your demo drive percentage.

Next up: The Best Online Car Buying Experience

(If you’re catching this series for the first time, you may want to begin with the first post in the series: It’s About a Great Experience)

About TheManager:

Steve Stauning, creator of The Appointment Culture and an expert in The Customer Experience. He is also an extremely popular keynote speaker, writer, and industry consultant. Learn more about Steve at