An expert step by step on selling a van or commercial vehicle

An expert step by step on selling a van or commercial vehicle. So you have someone coming to see a van. What now and how do you actually go about the sales process? Below you find a very simple sales process that works at every price point, with every potential purchaser. I have broken the process down in to 5 basic steps

  1. The Meet and Greet
  2. The Walk-Around
  3. The Test Drive
  4. The Negotiating and closing
  5. The Paperwork

The meet and greet

First impressions count. I normally wear a simple polo-shirt and dark jeans/trousers with clean shoes. I have worn this for selling vans worth £500 or tens of thousands of pounds. A simple clean look neither too smart or to casual. But largely anything smart casual will do. Simply smile, always shake hands and introduce yourself.

It’s best to keep it simple.

​The Walk-Around

Once you’ve introduced yourself and got the pleasantries out of the way. The potential buyer will normally head to the van and start looking around.

I normally just stand a few feet away from the drivers door. Then just simply let them look over the van. I don’t tell them anything or try and sell them anything, I just leave them to it. It is best not to try and sell them anything or blast them with details and information about the van. Just leave them to it.

It’s just that simple.

They will walk around and may ask a question or two. The questions are normally very simple I will list the most common below. 

  • When was it last serviced?
  • Can we see the service history?
  • Is it ok to look at the engine?
  • How long have you had the van?
  • Has it ever been in a crash?
  • Does it have both keys?
  • Are you a dealer

Try and answer them with as simply as you can. If you don’t know the answer just tell them that you don’t know. I was told on my first day selling vans to never lie to the customer. Advice that has served me very well over the years.

The most important thing to do is to say as little as possible. Just stand there and let them get on with it.

Remember 99% of people viewing a car will know little or nothing about vans. The friend they bring along with the flashlight and overalls, will again know nothing. He or she may well decide whether the sale goes ahead or not but you will have little on no influence on that decision anyway, so again its best to say nothing. 

Just leave them to it.

The Test Drive

Firstly as a flipper/private seller you need to decide if you are allowing test drives. Secondly and very importantly you need to establish who is covering the insurance. If you have some sort of motor traders policy then brilliant. If not you need to see proof of insurance from the potential new owner if they want a test drive.

Simple test drive rules:

1. Always ask to see their driving license and insurance.
2. Never allow a buyer to test drive the van alone.
3. Never leave them alone with the keys, and make sure you take them out of the ignition when you change seats on the test drive. If the van has a smart key always keep it with you at all times.

Whilst on the test drive again I generally say as little as possible (can you see a pattern here?). Just sit there and let them get on with it. What you should definitely not allow is any form of testing, as in emergency stops etc. If the want to know if the brakes are good tell them to get it inspected by a garage. Also I always insist they stick to the speed limits and drive sensibly. Remember it is your van and you are in charge.

The negotiating and closing 

After the test drive people tend to take another walk around the van. Again I really favour saying as little as possible at this point. If they are also staying quite its still best to say nothing. A few minutes silence is often a good thing. Just stand there and say nothing, let them have some time to think and talk first. 

After a few minutes they may simply indicate that they want the to buy the van, or are interested in buying the van, or simply say it’s not for them. It’s very hard to influence someone at this point or any point during the sales process. But hopefully your perfectly presented van would have done the hard lifting for you.

Often they will indicate they are interested, but want to negotiate on the price. If this happens again saying as little as possible just tell them to you to make an offer. At no point would I offer a figure to them. If they make an offer alway counter with a higher offer. You should never except their opening bid as they will always move up.

If you aren’t able to negotiate a price you are happy with then don’t sell the van. It is true that often the first deal is the best deal in this game. But it’s also true that there are plenty of fish in the sea. If the van is good and you have presented it well, don’t give it away.

They may simply be playing hardball and call you there next day and buy the van at the higher price.

But don’t be disheartened if they say it’s just not for them or they want to think about it. There is very little you can do to influence people.

If they want to go ahead just move straight to the next step.

The paperwork

This is a really important bit. Once the deal is done, you still have to put the deal in writing and include the following on an invoice:

1.  The date
2.  Price
3.  Make and model
4. Registration number
5. Vin number
6. The names and addresses of the buyer and seller

Make two copies – one for you and one for the buyer – and make sure all parties sign both.

Depending on where you live the transfer of ownership may vary. But in the UK you simply fill in the relevant parts of the V5C registration document and send it to the DVLA. Give the top part of the V5C to the new owner and you’re done. We cover the paperwork side of UK van sales in this article – ​How to transfer ownership of a car in the UK.


In the old day I would normally take payment by cash or cheque. But in the modern world I only except bank transfer and would advice you to do the same. Its simple effective and there really is no reason to accept any other form of payment.

Needless to say never release a van or submit the paperwork until you have cleared fund in your account!


Selling a van doesn’t have to be hard, and often the less the you do and say the better. But after a while you will grow in confidence and find the whole process easy. Everyones technique is different and in truth so is every sale. So relax smile and enjoy yourself and the sale will go much easier.