Last week, Lauren asked me to figure out how much her 2008 Porsche 997 Carrera 4 Cabriolet with just over 50,000 miles was worth before she sold it. She was about to sell the car privately. She had just gotten it back from a dealer who had been trying to sell it for more than three months without success. Where should it be sold, and how much should it cost?
Step 1: to be ready to sell.
Lauren had been ready to sell this car for four months, so she was very motivated and most interested in a quick private sale. She came to me after doing some research and not being afraid to ask for help because she was a man. Men rarely ask for help, which leads to many other problems. Consulting a professional is the best way to send yourself the message “I am motivated to do X.”
In my thirty years in the car business, I’ve made many fast and pleasant sales. There are a few things that are essential to making this happen. First, you have to want to do it. Step away from the computer if you’re telling potential buyers, “If I don’t get the price I want, I’ll just keep it.” If you are not serious about selling your car, the ad will turn off serious buyers, and putting it up for sale now could hurt your chances of selling it later.
Be a seller who wants to sell, and make sure your ad says this loud and clear. Get the car clean, take some great pictures (not in your driveway unless your house is amazing), and write a good ad. If you can’t write a good ad, you can pay someone like me a little bit of money and I’ll do it for you.
Making sure the car looks good shows buyers that you want to sell it. This must be emphasized in the text. Text that is clear and doesn’t have any mistakes, typos, or filler makes buyers feel like they won’t waste their time trying to make a deal with you. Assertiveness is liked by smart buyers, and mirroring behavior shows that a seller is ready to act as a call to action. Even though being friendly and personable is a big part of sales, you need to make sure that your answers to all contacts are mostly clear and to the point.
Putting your landline phone number in the ad (which anyone could answer) or saying “I’ll check later and email you back” are great examples of how not to give clear and concise information. Always answer with the information, not a holding email. Always thank the person for contacting you and add any questions you have in response. The most important question to ask back is something like, “How ready are you to buy?”
How to buy a Porsche: the three steps
Remember ACD, which stands for the three parts of the buyer’s journey: being aware, thinking about it, and making a choice. Studies show that a buyer is as much as 90% of the way through the buying process by the time they look at sales. The buyer you want has finished stage one, is mostly done with stage two, and is getting close to stage three, which is where they make a decision. You’d like that buyer to get in touch with you. If your ad doesn’t get this response, then something is wrong somewhere. If you have done your research, buyers who are serious about buying should see your ad and contact you.
Something about “timewasters”
Once the ad goes live, private sellers need to keep a close eye on it because it’s easy to waste time answering questions from people who are not at the end of stage two. Educating buyers about cars so they can go buy another one takes time and attention that should be spent on better leads. This “educational time” is what makes many people give up on sales and say things like “There are so many time-wasters and tire-kickers on eBay” or whatever.
Most of these people are not wasting your time; they are just too early in the buying process for your needs. Some of the time these people spend is because of dealer margins, but private sales don’t have that luxury. So be sure to qualify your buyer contacts because not all leads are the same. When people have made an effort and come to see the car, teach them something. Add to your sales text any information that seems to be missing. Remember to ask yourself, “Are you ready to buy?”
Back to customer behavior
Buyers who have finished stages one and two can now either change their needs and go back to stage one or move on to the decision stage. Assuming they stayed in stage three and are now looking at your ad, it needs to move them further into the last stage. If you can get them to read most of it, you may sell your car without having to show it to anyone.
If the right buyer has the right information and the right chance at the right time, they don’t need to touch the product. Even though this is a £30,000 car, it doesn’t matter. If a buyer is happy to buy a toaster online, they will be happy to buy a car online as well, as long as it’s presented well.
This works for sure. I’ve sold a lot of cars and motorcycles to people who sent me the money before they came to pick up their purchases. So the first important step is to show that you’re serious by putting your item in a good light and giving a lot of information about it in the ad text. We will talk about the text soon.
Step 2: Check out the competition
To be successful, sellers need to know what else is out there and whether or not it is selling. If you want to sell your car, you need to look at the market from a buyer’s point of view. The best way to do this is not to ask for price advice on a forum full of owners with their own ideas. Look in the ads and see what else is out there. Be aware that pricing based on one source of information or on what people have asked for in the past is not enough research.
There are many different kinds of used Porsches for sale in the UK. Some Porsches are almost too easy to find, but classic 911s have been hard to find for a while. I looked at the Porsche 997s for sale on Pistonheads and found 220 cars, 54 of which were convertibles. 18 of them were automatic, and only six of them cost up to £30,000. (a guideline price for Gen 1 997s at this sort of mileage).
The same search on Autotrader, which uses a slightly different search method, showed 17 Gen 1 997s cars (Coupes and Cabs), but there were only three Gen 1 Cabs, and one of them had already been sold. It happened again on the Pistonheads. If you look at Autotrader and Pistonheads classifieds together, you can get a good idea of how many cars are for sale across the country. This was a pretty rare car, especially at a time of year when Cabriolets were in demand and lockdown was keeping the market busy
Step 3: Put together your information, such as your options and past
When I looked at the old dealer ads for the car, I wasn’t surprised to find that the sales description was poorly written. Research showed that the dealer had lowered the price by £2,000 in the three months it was on the market. This suggests that the dealer didn’t do enough research on the Porsche 911’s specs, market trends, and what made this car stand out from other cars on the market.
When you looked at the photos, you could see that there were some things that people wanted that were not mentioned in the description. The car was painted black and had black leather and a black hood, which helped it sell well and keep its value. The photos showed that the condition was great. It looked like the kind of car I would buy if I were shopping.
The Tiptronic transmission could have been a problem. My marketing philosophy for Tiptronic is to actively market against people who buy things by hand. Put “Tiptronic” in the title and maybe briefly explain why Tiptronic is better than a manual transmission. Tiptronic is not the kiss of death, as I have said many times. I like automatic transmissions on newer cars because they are easy to use and many people look for them. But you must be able to move up and down the gears with controls on the steering wheel.
The MOT history showed nothing wrong, and the ad said that the car had been well taken care of. Lauren had the car for more than two years, but because her life had changed (she got dogs and a new SUV), she was ready to sell. She bought the car from a specialist who, as far as I knew, checked all cars with a borescope before putting them on the market. The ad had to include all of this.
Step 4: create your minimalist masterpiece
Your ad is a tool that has a job to do. The job is to find the right buyer and get them as far as possible from the end of stage two (consideration) to as far as possible in stage three (decision). The ad isn’t a place to talk about Porsche’s history, invite students to buy, talk about your many road trips, or say how much your partner loves the car and wishes you’d keep it. If what you are writing is not focused on the job, delete it. Create a minimalist masterpiece.
Separate the ad into parts. I usually work in the following ways:
- Explain what the car is and why you are selling it.
- There were clear descriptions of the car.
- Link the text and pictures so nothing is left hanging.
- Put the price in perspective (demonstrate buyer empathy)
- Describe any conditions for inspection, payment, or collection.
I had learned a lot about Lauren’s car, so I knew where to sell it. She had already put it up for sale online for a price that was a little less than what I suggested. Since she was happy with that price, we changed it a little (always take £50 off any amount, even if it’s in the thousands) and made it clear that no other offers would be taken into account. Here’s the text I thought would work:
This C4S Cabriolet with a 5-speed Tiptronic transmission was first registered in April 2008. As my detailed photos show, it is still in very good condition for its age. The car has been a joy to own for the last two years, but because of a change in lifestyle, it needs to go to a good home. Basalt Black Metallic is a popular color, and the car has a great service record and a great list of factory features, such as:
- Porsche Stability Management, or PSM
- PASM stands for Porsche Active Suspension Management.
- PSE: Porsche Sports Exhaust
- PCM 2 with Bose upgrade, Bluetooth, and color navigation
- Warm seats (so important on a Cabriolet)
- White dials and long leather straps (dash and console etc)
- Steering Wheel With Several Functions
- Cruise Control 19-inch wheels with electronic lights
- Both of the first keys
- Depreciation-proof Basalt It has black paint, black leather accents, and a black hood (triple black)
The car has a full-service history, and the service book has five stamps. It has all-around great Pirelli P-Zero tires. Recent maintenance includes:
- No problems were found with the borescope at 44,350 miles.
- Service May 2020: New battery, new bonnet release, new sump plug and washer, pollen filter, oil filter, and engine flush.
- Service April 2018: Full inspection, service for the air conditioner, change of brake fluid and spark plugs, replacement of rear brake discs and pads, and replacement of all six coil packs.
- Additional work was done in April 2018: new wiper blades, a towing eye, tire foam, a new front lower bib spoiler, new front air deflectors, and new air condensers for both sides.
As a woman who loves cars and treats them with care, I have taken good care of this one and put in a lot of work to get it ready for its next owner. Serious buyers will notice that it’s the cheapest 2008 S-body 997 Cabriolet with low mileage that’s for sale in the UK. It has a desirable “triple black” finish, which means that the color, trim, and hood are all black. It also has a great history and a full set of highly desirable options. If the right person buys it, this car will last a long time. It drives great, and the first person to see it will definitely buy it. There are no deals, and no one is wasting your time.
The result was a sale in less than a day
Based on what I said, Lauren changed her ad. The next day, I looked at her ad to see what had changed. I was surprised to see that the car had already been sold. I wrote her an email to find out more.
Lauren said, “The first person who saw the car gave me a £500 deposit and begged to buy it from me. There was no haggling.” “He said that he had been looking for one for a few years and that this was by far the best and cheapest one he had seen. He couldn’t believe how good it was. He only found one scratch on a wheel that needed to be fixed, but he said he’d gladly pay for that. He also said I was way too trusting and made me take the £500 to secure it. I don’t know if I said this, but when I got home from the car lot, the front window didn’t seem to be on its track. He said that it had happened to him before with a new car and was easy to fix.
“This was a nice change from all the time-wasters I’ve had to deal with in the past who tried to tell me how much I needed to lower the price. It helps when buyers know what they’re getting, and I’m sure most of them have been in the business of trying to buy something cheap so they can repackage it and sell it for more. “Thank you very much for your help. It made a big difference.”
Now, you could look at this story and say it was all luck because it happened at the right time, with the right buyer, and with the right ad, but there isn’t much luck involved in making this happen again and again (James Clear has written beautifully the concept of absolute vs relative luck). When we optimize everything we can, the results are always going to be better than when we leave some things unresolved, especially things that buyers care about.
This method of marketing directly to buyers who have finished the first step and are almost done with the second step works well. It brings in buyers who have done their research and are ready to send money, even if it’s just to scratch an itch and stop spending hours on the internet. If you want to play around with it, try it out on smaller things first and get better at it before you try it out on a car for sale. Tell me how you’re doing!