Buying a Car? Here's Some Sales Advice

January 23, 2010
If you've decided to make the leap back into the car market new or used, it really doesn't matter there are a few things to be aware of when you walk through the door. You would think they are simple to think about and at a more rational time of your life you probably do think of them rationally, but we're talking about car-buying here, so there are some things to look for. We'll present them, in no particular order, but, if you look or listen hard enough, you'll hear or see them.

First, let's make sure of one thing, when you get to the dealership, you have neither your credit card nor your checkbook with you. You likely really do, but, for purposes of getting the deal you want on the car you want, you don't have them with you. Bring about $50 or $100 for a quick deposit, though, because you will need to show some good faith to the dealership before they'll hold the car for you.

How do we know this? We did it for six years and sales techniques really haven't changed all that much in the more than 50 years I've been hanging around car dealerships (my dad was friends with a now defunct dealer and I spent many Saturdays hanging out with my dad as he sold life insurance to new-car buyers and I just sort of stayed with the business, in one way or another the rest of my life).

Salesman's juggle

This is a variation on the old two-step, better known as the meet and greet and trial close. In this little scenario, you'll find a salesman will come up to you with a great smile and a handshake (firm) and he'll say something like:

"Welcome to Blab Motors, My Name is John and Your's Is?"

So you tell him, your name and then he'll go on and say something like:

"That's great, how can I help you today (or) what are you trying to accomplish today? And how can I help you? (It's pretty obvious you're not there to buy shoes since you've stopped at Blab because of an internet special you saw, but you're treated like you're about 3 or 4 years old, anyway)."

Then you'll be asked a series of questions such as:

"What are you looking for exactly? Do you need a two doors or four doors? Is all-wheel-drive important? Do you want leather upholstery or how about heated seats? How big an engine do you need?" You're being qualified. This little quiz will go on and on, until you're ready to hide the salesman under the nearest car and leave, but don't he's just doing his job of being an annoyance.

So, you answer his questions and he steers you to the car he thinks meets your needs. You find it's not exactly the model you want, so you ask to see something else (don't worry if you ask him to show you a dozen cars, this is his job, just as it's his job to separate you and your money). In fact, keep him moving and showing you cars (it sounds cruel, especially in winter when you can wait inside while the cars are brought up to you to look at and, perhaps, test drive. Like shoes, though, you don't buy the first pair you try on).

Okay, so he finds you a car that you're interested in, so he will (there's no doubt of it) ask:

"Want to take it out for a spin or a test drive?" Go ahead, it's all part of the shtick a salesman does.

Juggling continues

On the test drive, the salesman will try to show you all of the great features of the car. Most salespeople are so zealous to move vehicles and make a living (it's a tough market and it's a tough life for you so you have to be just as tough as the salesman) that they will oversell the car. They'll show you features and things you may not want to know about. So, if the salesman is talking too much, ask him to quiet down because you're concentrating and then tell him you'll ask him if you have anything you want to know!!

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