Buying a car can be a pretty exciting time. Dealing with salesmen, not so much. Sometimes we just want to be left to browse, and do our own research. Most of us spend weeks or months doing our homework and planning our next vehicle. It’s been said that 83 percent of people search online for information and feedback about potential car purchases. It’s a big process, and a stressful one for many. After all, who wants to risk spending all that money on a lemon? Things are changing, most of all so that dealerships can evolve along with the Internet, but coping with a car salesman can just add to the stress.
The salesman has a job to do. He needs to convince us that the product will make life easier, improve our quality of life, save us time or money, or offer benefits that we cannot get anywhere else. Sales has been described as an art, a science and even a game. Car salesmen are human, though, and for the most part just want to do their job well, and make a good income.
Others, can be tricky, which is where the used car salesman stereotype originates. They might try to convince us to buy on impulse, or spend more than we really want to. Here are a couple of ways to remain in control of the situation, and withstand aggressive sales tactics, and ultimately go home with the perfect vehicle.
You might take note of a salesman’s language. Instead of greeting you with “can I help you to find something?” you might hear instead “are you looking for an SUV or a sedan today?” This type of language makes it difficult to simply tell him that you’re just looking around. It’s active language, meant to steer you in the direction of a purchase. The salesman has also opened the door to a relationship, and is probably now at your side, and not going anywhere.
As you tour the lot, if you ask a salesperson about a vehicle, you’re going to be told only of it’s best features. Don’t expect to learn about the negatives from him, but that’s what the Internet is for. Feel free to pull out your smartphone and do your research on the fly, while it’s all fresh in your mind. There are plenty of websites that will quickly give you the good and the bad, along with value, specs and reputation.
Along with language comes pricing. Let’s face it, if you ask a salesman for a vehicle’s price, hearing “seventeen, nine” sure sounds better than “seventeen thousand and nine hundred dollars,” doesn’t it? Never forget that these are real dollars, a great deal of money that needs to be paid one way or another.
Pricing can be tricky. A sticker price in the tens of thousands of dollars can seem so unreal that it doesn’t really register. Many of us don’t shop based on that number. Instead, we make our affordability decision based on what our payment will be. Hearing “$162.93 biweekly” sure sounds a lot better than “$25,000.” You’re still investing $25,000 though, so don’t get in over your head.
Pay attention to upsells. These are the extras that a dealer, and salesman make a lot from. On a used car, you may feel better protected with an extended warranty. However, you may not need leather protection for a car with vinyl seats.
A salesman might be clever as he persuades you to look closely at a particular vehicle. He may tell you that it’s a big seller, creating instant validation- after all, lots of other people chose this car, so it must be a good one. He might even tell you how great you look sitting behind the wheel. Who doesn’t love hearing that? Vanity will get us every time. Don’t fall for the flash, there are more important reasons to select a vehicle. Stay firm and buy only the car that makes sense to you on paper, not in the mirror.
Be prepared when going in. Know what your budget is, and stick to it. Ask your bank about any auto loan options, so that you’ll be better equipped to compare them with what the dealer is offering. It might be a good idea to check your credit score too. You’ll know ahead of time what financing options are available to you that way. Poor credit scores generally mean higher interest rates.
Finally, you can always say “no” and walk away. If you are uncomfortable, or unsure, step back. There will be plenty of other cars, and dealerships around when you are ready, and they will be thrilled to get your business.