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With new vehicles debuting in showrooms, dealers are often eager to clear out the end of the previous year's models. (iStockphoto)
With new vehicles debuting in showrooms, dealers are often eager to clear out the end of the previous year's models. (iStockphoto)

Drive, She Said

How to read a car salesman’s mind Add to ...

The end of summer is traditionally a favoured time for many in the market to buy cars. With new vehicles debuting in showrooms, dealers are often eager to clear out the end of the previous year's models. If you're like most buyers, you will spend some time on the Internet researching your decision. You will probably have narrowed it down considerably, have a price point in mind, a list of what you need, what you want and what you'll settle for.

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I suggest you add one more website to your search: www.carsalesprofessional.com. It took me 10 seconds to find it (first up when I Googled “becoming a car salesman”); you know it's not too obscure. Why should you read it? Because there is a chance your car salesperson might also have read it. Who wouldn't want a playbook from the other team?

It's actually a very positive site, designed to assist sales people to increase their sales so they can acquire six-figure incomes. The site is very big on six-figure incomes. It tells salespeople how to maximize their income, and suggests (repeatedly) that they buy the book on offer. But the site itself is full of tips for sellers. Therefore, I strongly suggest buyers go there, too. Find out what kind of advice your car seller might have read.

I am firmly in the camp of Everybody Has to Eat. I have dealt with fair sellers, and total creeps. Like any other transaction, I believe fair work should be rewarded with fair pay. I have heard the way buyers talk about sellers, and how sellers talk about buyers. I don't know that there is a more adversarial dynamic in the marketplace than car sales.

To try to get inside the head of what makes some car salespeople tick, I perused this site. It was interesting to find out that if I'm dedicated to mainly getting the best price on a vehicle, I apparently will be considered a “mooch.” Actually, a mooch is also called the Logical Buyer, and the rest of us are basically buying on emotion. The site tells me that selling to a mooch is never fun. It is imperative that you “let [the mooch] know that you are on his side against the sales manager.”

Note: Good cop, bad cop may work on TV shows, but I am never impressed when a business believes a perceived disconnect between management and the floor is a good thing. If “we” have to be against the owner, I don't think I want to be your customer.

It is good to know that it has been suggested to a salesperson to “plant urgency seeds” in me the moment I enter the showroom. This means to compliment me on my choice, and keep reinforcing how well that vehicle has been selling. Oh, but do all this, constantly, without coming across as “cheesy.” The site recommends keeping up this urgency spiel throughout the test drive.

Note: There is nothing more annoying than someone talking at me when I am determining questions I have. I recommend you shut up during the test drive unless asked otherwise.

The site reminds salespeople that buyers lie, and you shouldn't believe them. It's actually a tip on its own: Buyers are Liars. “The car business already has a poor reputation and the salesman always gets blamed for that, but it really is perpetuated by the customer.” We can play chicken and egg here all day long, but the fact remains that many, many of us are driving around in cars we replace at regular intervals, so somehow, all the liars are meeting on some middle ground.

The site also notes that “many [buyers] have prepared for their experience by making up lies and excuses for not buying. ...” I rather like this. And here I thought most of my prep work had been about investigating fuel efficiency, resale values, warranties and maintenance costs. Silly me.

I am now aware there are Car Salesman Words. I did not put the capitals on that phrase. These words are “practically,” “nearly,” “very close,” “almost there” and “if I could.” In what amounts to the advice that I find most repulsive, there is a simple solution to a tentative buyer explaining that they can't afford $400 a month, but only $300: you just massage the numbers so they make a bigger down payment, or stretch the loan out over an extra year or two. Bingo! You've met their number!

There is a whole section entitled Are You Lying To The Car Buyer, though the site is quick to note that stretching the truth is not lying. The writer is almost saddened that buyers are far savvier then they once were, with that damned Internet supplying them with most of the facts and figures they need; you might as well not bother lying or a customer might not trust you. “This not something that most car salesman training programs spend much time going over, but this single car salesman tip can have a real impact in reaching a six-figure income.”

Ah, the Internet is indeed a valuable tool. Trusted salespeople I know are grateful for informed customers. Guess the others are busy reading that site.

lorraineonline.ca

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