Sales Tips: Vehicle demonstration drive


I first learned the value of a demonstration drive when I was 19 and ready to buy my first car. I had decided on a Mazda RX-7, but a quick stop at a Pontiac dealership and spin in a Trans Am changed my choice for good.

The sales person told me there was no discount on the car and I paid the asking price that was posted in the window, full pop.

This experience helped me realize the importance of the product demonstration and achieving mental ownership (the state of being an owner).

Remember, if they do not try it, they will not buy it. So take a minute to review the seven steps to a professional demonstration drive and see how you can improve your closing ratio.

1) Never ask the customer if they would like to go for a test drive because you give them the chance to say “no.”
After a professional vehicle presentation, excuse yourself so you can get the dealer plate and keys by saying: “Please give me one minute I’ll be right back.”
Do not tell the customer where you are going, just go and do it.

2) Put the dealer plate on and tell the customer:  “I’ll have to drive first for safety reasons, so if you would please like to get into the passenger seat.”
    If everything is set for the test drive you will have to ask for their driver’s license.
The demonstration drive should always start with the sales person driving first. Never let the customer test drive the vehicle alone. Many sales people take this short cut and it has been proven that your closing percentage will go down.
    Say you are driving for safety reasons or that it is the insurance policy of the dealership. You maintain control when you sit in the driver’s seat and can demonstrate systems and how to handle the vehicle.
3) Test drives should be approximately 30 minutes on a pre-planned route. This route must include a special change over location (quiet side street or a nearby park). Get everyone out of the vehicle, stand back and ask: “How do you like the vehicle away from the dealership?”
When they have answered, let them drive. Make sure they are comfortable with the seat position, mirrors, etc. Sit in the back seat if you’re with more than one person.

4) Talk as much as you want when you are driving. Explain the warranty, turn on the stereo, describe and demonstrate features.
But when the customer is driving, do not speak unless you are giving directions or are asked a question. Let the customer enjoy the drive.

5) When approaching the dealership, ask: “Did you like the ride and features of the vehicle?”  
This will help determine if it is the right vehicle. If not, start thinking of another vehicle before you park.

6) When back at the dealership, ask them: “Mr. Customer could you please park in our in the sold area.” (make one if your dealership does not have one).
It is bold, but it will give you an idea of how they feel. The customer is going to say one of three responses:

-    “I haven’t bought it yet:” You respond by saying: “No problem, this is where we park all of our vehicles after a test drive for cleaning and refueling.”    
-    “Sure (or they say nothing):” Just say thank you.
-    “Sure, and make sure no one else drives it:” Say yes. It is also important to not park the vehicle in the same spot from which it was taken. Returning to the original spot is not special enough and will decrease mental ownership.

7) At the end of the demo, clarify that this is the correct vehicle. Ask if they liked the features and handling. If the response is favourable, tell them: “Please follow me I would like to share some more information with you.”
Do not ask them to come inside and work out some numbers. Proceed with selling the whole package (service department, history of your dealership, etc.) Offer them a coffee and then you will sit them down in your office and ask for the sale.

Remember, the goal is to achieve mental ownership and a properly orchestrated demonstration drive must be part of your selling game plan.

Darin George is the founder and head sales training instructor for the Automotive Sales College Inc. He is also the author of Sales Training – Automotive Edition and can be contacted by email at,