How Do You Beat a Car Salesperson?

Car salespeople can be some of the most aggressive salespeople on the planet, and they utilize techniques that most people are unfamiliar with to get you to sign on the dotted line. Even good salespeople use some of these methods to try and sell you your next car, but the good news is, if you are familiar with them ahead of time, you are more likely to beat the salesperson at his or her game. To do this, you have to be aware of the techniques they use, and below are a few of them that you can get familiar with before heading out to the dealership.

Bait and Switch

Most people know the familiar bait-and-switch technique. The salesperson tells you the car you’re looking for is available, then when you get to the dealership, you’re told that it has been sold but that they have something else just like it – only it’s priced higher. You may think it’s impossible to avoid this situation, but it’s a lot easier to avoid than you think. This is especially true in today’s world of the Internet. Why? Because you can check a dealer’s inventory daily and email them once you find one you would love to see if it’s available. If it’s available, you can zoom right over there and take a look at it.

Does this mean that you’re guaranteed not to suffer with this sales technique? Not necessarily, but it’s a lot less likely if you stay on top of things before you go to the dealership, and if you realize that this is a technique they may use on you.

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Focus on Monthly Payments More Than the Car Price

Sometimes, a salesperson starts the conversation by asking what you’re currently paying per month for your car. This is appealing to many car buyers because many of them concentrate more on what their monthly payment will be than they are on the price of the car. This is always to the salesperson’s advantage, because there are a lot of ways that person can lower your monthly payment and still have you paying more than you should for the vehicle itself.

To avoid this, always talk to the salesperson about the price of the vehicle and not what your monthly note will be. Remember that you can get the monthly note down if you like by extending the term of the loan or by increasing your down payment.

Beating Out the Clock

This method is simple: the salesperson keeps you on the car lot until you get tired or hungry, at which time you’re more likely to agree to a deal that may not be to your advantage. The longer you’re there, the more the salesperson can go back and forth with you about the price or even which car you agree to purchase. The simple way to avoid this is to let the salesperson know as soon as you arrive what you intend to do that day. For instance, tell him or her that you’re coming in just for a test drive and that you’ll worry about the numbers the next day.

If the salesperson starts going back and forth with a manager to negotiate a price for you, tell him or her just to email you or text the details to you when they’re ready. Remember that your time is just as valuable as the salesperson’s. In other words, let the salesperson know you have time to make your decision, not that you’re in a hurry to buy something now.

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“The Impending Event”

This technique is simple. The salesperson tells you that if you don’t purchase the car on that day, you’ll miss out on a great deal in an upcoming sale. They may even tell you that if you don’t buy it that day, someone else could come in and buy it after you’re gone. While the latter is always a possibility, it isn’t very likely, so you don’t have to be intimidated by these tactics. In short, the salesperson is simply trying to pressure you into buying the car that day, likely to meet a sales quota or because they want to go home having made a sale.

Your reaction to this method is simple – you have to be prepared to walk away from it to show the salesperson that you are the one in charge. While it may not work out in your favor, this is still your biggest chance of getting a great deal in the end.

The Hard Sell

Fewer sales people still use this tactic, but if you’re not careful, they could get you with it. What they basically do is follow you around the dealership and stay in your face, relying on the fact that most people will be too polite to tell them to get lost. If a salesperson won’t leave you alone and won’t act professional, the best thing to do is leave and go to another dealership. The fact is that there are plenty of car dealerships that have competent, professional salespeople who are there to help you buy the car that’s right for you – not to stay on top of you until you finally agree to buy a car from them.

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High-pressure salespeople are everywhere, but if you know what to look for, you can increase the likelihood that you’ll beat them at their tactics.

The “If” or “Porcupine” Method

In this method, the salesperson “sticks” the buyer with all sorts of “if” questions to get you to say yes. These questions include, “if I can get you into the red car, would you buy this car today,” and “what would it take to get you into this car today?” This is a high-pressure technique that you do not have to fall for. Tell the salesperson you are shopping around and that you’re working with a few dealerships, and tell them “no” when they ask you if you’re going to buy that day.

Of course, if you do fall in love with a vehicle and the price is right, you are certainly free to buy the car if you feel comfortable doing so. Just don’t feel pressured into buying something you’re not ready to buy.

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    Marko Mikulic

    Why do you love writing about cars? I love writing about cars as cars are a huge personal interest of mine. I was raised in a car enthusiast community and ever since I was young, I always wanted to do car-related work.

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