As just about anyone who has ever shopped for a car knows, there are more than a few car sales people who will use various "ploys" designed to move the customers from a shopper to a buyer–today! And, in the process, to control the sale and extract the maximum amount of profit. My position is that if you can recognize their ploys, you can counter with your own tactics.
Ploy # 1. The Tent Sale: Often dealers will park a bunch of cars under a tent and advertise that they are having a big tent sale. The impression is that a buyer can save a bundle on these cars.
Countertactic: Don’t believe it. All the balloons, clowns and hoopla are part of an effort to create the sense that there will never be another deal like this one. Understand that for the informed auto buyer, every day is a "sale" day.
Ploy # 2. Are You a Buyer . . . Today? One of the first questions many sales people will ask is designed to qualify you as a buyer or a looker. "How soon are you looking to buy a car?"
Countertactic: My advice is to be honest when asked this question. Let them know your buying plans. However, make it clear that you are not committed to buying at any one dealership and that you intend to shop to get the best price.
Ploy # 3. The Price Feeler: If the sales person determines that you’re a payment buyer, they will talk price only in terms of monthly payments.
"If I could get you out the door for $249 a month could we write a deal today?" If you answer "yes" or "I think so," you may have given up significant ground in the negotiation.
Countertactic: While you certainly want to know you’re monthly exposure, don’t say "yes" to this question even if the number sounds good. Why? That’s because the seller may be quoting you the payment for a five, or even seven-year finance program. Or he or she may be just testing to see if you’re ready to buy at any price. Your best answer is to respond with questions: "How many months are you quoting me?" and "What does that include? Taxes, transportation, title, registration?"
Ploy # 4. The Boss is the Enemy: One of the classic ploys is for the sales person to tell you that he is on your side working against "the money grubbing boss" who can be dealt with "if only you’ll just "meet us half way."
Countertactic: If you find that your sales person has to make more than two trips back and forth to the "bad guy" to try to win approval for your deal, take control and short circuit this charade. Tell the salesperson that if your deal is not approved on his or her next trip, you are going to leave.
Then, just to add a little insult to injury say: "What is the best way to 2334 Main Street?" which they will know is the address of their nearest competitor. Unless you’ve totally miscalculated, they will agree to your deal before you get out the door.
Ploy # 5. Disguise the Actual Cost: If the sales person perceives you as a payment buyer, then he or she is going to try to come up with a payment plan that meets your budget. To maintain the profit margin on the car they will adjust the payments by quoting you rates based on 48, 60 or even 72-month terms
If the sales person senses that you’re a difference buyer, i.e., you are looking for the difference between what you’ll get for your trade-in and the cost of the car, he or she will talk about "allowing" you a certain amount for your trade. However, he’ll never mention the actual appraisal or retail price of the car.
Countertactic: Do you homework. Know the value of your trade. Know the invoice price of the car. Decide on what you consider to be a fair profit. Decide on what monthly payment in what time frame works best for you. Then stick to it. It’s hard to confuse someone who has all the facts.
Ploy # 6. Time Pressure: When it gets down to the wire, you’d be amazed at how many contests, sales bargains, "one time only prices" come out of the woodwork as an enticement to make you commit to buying a car. Sometimes sales people will suggest that the prices are going up next week or that a major sales contest ends that night and they are only one deal away from winning.
Countertactic: Don’t be taken in by any time pressure ploy. Even if what the sales person says is legitimate, you should never make a purchase decision in order to beat the clock.
Ploy # 7. The Bump: One of the ploys used by a dealership to squeeze a few more dollars out of your pocket is for the sales person or even the sales manager to come back and announce that: "We’re so close. If you could just come up a little, the boss will go for it."
Often they will try to make "the bump" sound like just a few cents. "Do you mean to say that you would deny yourself the pleasure of driving this car for just pennies a day?" Keep in mind that those "pennies" will add up fast. A "bump" of 75 cents a day over a four-year finance period will amount to $1,095.
Countertactic: Say once, and only once, that they have your last offer and then start to leave. Sales people don’t deal well with people who refuse to negotiate. If they want to sell the car, they won’t let you leave.
© 2008, Young Money Media, LLC. All rights reserved.