Car Dealer Tricks: Closing The Sale

November 4, 2010
When I was Internet Manager for a major car dealer, I learned that my customers hated the negotiating process more than any other aspect of buying a car. For many, they would prefer having a tooth pulled rather than go head-to-head with a car dealer negotiating the price of their next new or pre-owned vehicle.

If straight negotiations weren’t bad enough, my customers hated it when a “closer” was brought in to try and close the sale. They would spend an hour negotiating price, holding their own, only to have all that work negated when a Sales Manager joined the fray and started the entire process over from the beginning. It was frustrating for the customer. Often, a fresh, energetic face was enough to result in a customer throwing up their hands in surrender and simply accept the last offer on the table. The process would grind them down, wear them out, and force them to accept a deal they weren’t happy with.

The "Switch to Monthly Payments" Close

Closers use specific tactics to get negotiations moving in the dealership’s favor. Their first job is to review the basics of the deal to build a rapport with the customer and see if the possibility of compromise was missed by the salesperson.

The next step is to get the customer off their figure, or the low selling price (or high trade value) they won’t budge on. One way of doing this is to switch from the selling price--or trade value--to the monthly loan payment. Beware general questions such as, “What kind of monthly payment are you looking for?” or “If I could get your monthly payment down to $265 per month would we have deal?”

Often, an unrealistic figure is used to simply entice the buyer into switching from purchase price to monthly payments. Once your focus is there, it’s not that difficult to bump you up to a realistic figure.

The "Take Away" Close

Another tactic is the “take away” close. Let’s assume that you have agreed to talk about monthly payments. In order to finalize the deal, the closer says you need to come up to $350 per month. You won’t budge off $275. After a frustrating half an hour of head-to-head negotiating, the closer finally says, “It’s obvious that you can only afford $275 per month. Unfortunately, that's not enough to buy the car you’re looking at. We do have some very nice models in your price range. However, they don’t have the leather seats and moonroof you want, and the sound system is pretty basic, but it’s still a great little car.”

The closer knows that you really want the car you’ve been negotiating so hard to get. He “takes it away” by declaring that you can’t afford it and offers another car with disappointing features as an alternative. He knows you won’t accept the switch car, but is using this tactic as a last-ditch effort to move you off your figure.

What to Do?

What can you do to counter the tactics used by the closer? That’s tomorrow.

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