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Buying a Used Car: Four Tactics for Overcoming Sales Associates

Step one foot onto a car dealer’s premises and what is likely to happen? You are likely to be descended upon by at least one sales associate ready to sell you the first thing you lay your eyes on. It’s no secret that plenty of car buyers find the whole purchase process very uncomfortable due to high-pressure sales tactics. However, you do not have to allow yourself to be manipulated into making a purchase you don’t want.

Car sales associates are well-trained individuals with a tool chest full of tactics proven to sell cars. We have put together a list of four counter tactics you can use to overcome aggressive sales associates. If you can learn to employ them, you can maintain the upper hand when buying a used car.

1. Be Firm and Forthright

Most of us arrive at the dealership looking for something to buy. However, we do not want the sales associate to know that, so we say we are just looking for now. Trained associates are smart enough to know that this is a sign of weakness they can exploit. So rather than saying you are just looking, try something like, “I fully intend to buy today, but not necessarily from you. I will let you know if I need further assistance.”

Opening your discussions with sales associates in this firm and forthright manner lets them know up front that you will not be manipulated or bullied. You will retain the upper hand moving forward.

2. Know Pricing before You Shop

Getting the best deal on a used car is a lot easier when you know about pricing BEFORE you start shopping. Take an afternoon to research car prices online, for any models you know you are interested in. Any purchase decision regarding a model you have not investigated should be put on hold until you can research prices. Also, be sure to research the value of your trade-in, if you have one. Dealers are notorious for either undervaluing your trade-in or inflating retail sales price. Knowing the price points on both sides of the equation keeps you in a position of strength.

3. Bargain on Price, Not Payment

Perhaps the most deceptive tactic among car sales associates is to negotiate with customers based on monthly payment. For example, one of the first questions they ask is how much you can afford to pay every month. This gives the sales associate the advantage in that he knows how much room he has to play with while still selling you the most expensive car you can afford. He/she might be able to tack on several thousand pounds just by working out an extra 12 months to pay the car off.

You can maintain a position of strength by knowing ahead of time the maximum amount you are willing to pay for any given model. When the sales associate asks how much you can afford, politely respond by saying you will bargain on selling price first. After an agreement is reached, you will then be willing to talk about monthly payments.

4. Identify Sales Associate Elusiveness

Lastly, sales associates are purposely elusive as a way of not allowing customers to be confident in their negotiating position. For example, a sales associate will usually tell a customer he/she has to approve a deal with his/her supervisor before paperwork can be signed. What customers may not know is that associates and supervisors are just wasting time to increase the pressure. They might even be listening from another room to see if customer conversations reveal further weakness.

Elusiveness is also displayed when customers ask sales associates about certain things that do not seem right. Where a used car is concerned, you might ask about what appears to be a small repair over the rear wheel well. The elusive sales associate will not only fail to give you a definite answer, but he/she will promise to look into it further. Such elusiveness suggests you are not getting the whole story.

It is unfortunate that used car purchases have to be so dodgy but that is reality. Before you buy a used car, take the time to learn how successful sales associates do their jobs. When you know their tactics, you can employ counter tactics to protect your interests.

Sources:

  1. The Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/money/2008/nov/08/working-life-used-car-salesman
  2. Jennings Ford Direct – http://www.jenningsforddirect.co.uk/part-exchange-faq/
  3. Channel 4 Mary Portas – http://www.channel4.com/programmes/mary-portas-secret-shopper

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