Negotiating Tactics

Car Salespeople ⇦ Negotiating Tactics ⇨ Salesmanager

Negotiating Tactics

For the same reason that they often aren’t keen on telling you, early on, how much they are likely to allow you for your part exchange – you will not get the best deal from them unless you are in a position to sign up there and then.

One of the common lines that they use on you is something like: “If I can get this deal for you, are you prepared to sign an order now?” Sometimes you will find that they even ask you to sign a piece of paper to say that you WILL sign an order for your new car IF you get the deal you want.

Don’t be afraid of doing this – obviously, assuming you do want to buy the car in question!

You will never, ever get a good deal if they think you are still “shopping around”.


Two reasons:

1. If they offered you their best deal and let you go, they know you will go to another dealer and all that dealer would have to do is better their deal by, say, £100 and you will sign up with the other dealer. They do most of the hard work and you buy a car elsewhere!

2. They want you to buy their car - but - they want to make as much profit from you as they can so they will want to do just enough, and no more, to get you to sign up.

So, rather than tell you their best deal (almost like giving you a “quote”) they rely on tricks like zero percent finance, and leading you on with any of the tactics we have seen, to make you think that THEY will give you the best deal. Only if they are certain that you are ready to do a deal with them, there and then, will they really “sharpen their pencil” and try to come up with a deal that you will agree to.

That’s certainly the most common situation but, very occasionally, you might find a dealer that IS happy to give you “a quote”, knowing you are going to walk. You can bet that it will be really good, so good that no other dealer can come close… in fact, too good! Once you have shopped around and then returned to this dealer, you will find that the car you wanted has “been sold”, or the salesperson you saw is on a day off, or they have found a fault with that particular car, or any other “reason” as to why they can’t actually do that deal… They will then wheel out a different car… and you are back to square one.

The beauty of knowing that you only get Trade price for your car is that there is a lot less need to shop around. You don’t need to hawk your car around loads of dealers trying to find the “best price” for it. You know what price you are going to get wherever you go. The only varying factor is how good an overall deal you can get… and what that boils down to is: how much discount you can get on the car you want to buy (don’t forget to check the finance rate etc though!).

So, by all means, visit different dealers’ and look at the cars first, just don’t let any sales patter or zero % finance deals draw you in – that is such a waste of your time. Only when you find the car you want to buy should you get involved because only then will you be in a position to say that you will buy the car there and then. When a dealer knows you are ready to buy a car NOW, they will do everything they can to do you the deal that gets you to sign the order.

In fact, if you DO get drawn in and start negotiating… and then leave that dealer, for whatever reason… and then return later to negotiate again – that is very bad from your point of view, as we have already seen.

Don’t do it – don’t start negotiating a deal until you have found the car you want, then follow the principles in this guide and go for it!

Show them you are ready to buy, now

When you have found the car you want and you start the negotiating process: getting involved with a salesperson, talking about prices etc - it really helps if they are easily convinced that you are ready to buy, because if they don’t think you are in a position to do a deal there and then they simply will not be prepared to do their “best” for you. So you must arrange things so that the salesperson knows you are in a position to do a deal there and then…

Clean your part exchange car and remove all your junk

This WON’T help you get a better price for it – you know all about the price you are going to get for your car! What this does is show the salesperson that you are ready. It is one of the first things that the salesperson will notice: a clean and tidy car shows you mean business. A dirty car, full of your possessions shows the opposite: that you have not yet got to the stage when you are really serious about changing your car.

Either take your partner with you...

Buying a car is usually the second most expensive purchase that we ever make and salespeople usually expect that it will be a joint decision between you and your partner. We are not being sexist here… although, in some ways, you could say that buying a family car is seen as the “man’s domain”. However, few women would want their partner buy a car without having their say on the matter – put another way, few men would dare (!) commit to buying a particular car without involving their partner. It also works the other way: most men would want to be involved when their partner buys a car and most women would want their partner involved.

Whichever way you look at it, and whatever your own thoughts on the matter, car salespeople expect buying a car to be a decision where both partners will be involved. Either as a man or a woman, if you go into a dealer on your own the salesperson is more likely to view you as a potential “be back” than a potential customer – they will assume that you have got to go away and discuss things with your partner before you will sign an order – and, from your point of view, starting off from this position is not good negotiating tactics.

Of course, you may be single and have no partner to consult with… SO TELL THE SALESPERSON! You may have a partner, but you are going to buy whatever car you want and it’s nothing to do with your partner… again, tell the salesperson. They will often ask you anyway. We were trained to find out the position by saying to a potential buyer (on his or her own): “You are a brave man thinking about buying a car without your wife?”, or visa-versa in the case of a woman on her own. The answer the buyer gives to that sort of question shows whether they would be willing to make a decision on their own. You will only have the chance of getting the best deal if they believe you are in a position to sign up there and then.

… or “use” them on the phone …

However, if your partner can’t come with you don’t worry, as long as you and your partner have agreed what car you are going to buy. This situation gives you a good opportunity to “use” them, at critical moments of negotiation, on the end of the phone. In the next section of this guide you will see how and why the salesperson will “use” the Salesmanager against you – so you “use” your partner (on the end of the phone) against them!

Many people find it difficult to “negotiate”, to say “no” to a deal which is being offered and ask for a better one. This is quite normal because we all buy things from shops and in a shop the price is displayed on the item and we pay that price. Buying a car is entirely different because there are so many variables – the price of your part exchange, the price of the car you are buying, the amount of discount that you can get, the finance rate etc. As we have seen, the dealer WILL want to sell you a car but they want to make as much profit from you as they possibly can so they WILL NOT offer you their “best deal” straight away. You need to be able to say “NO!” to their first offer of a deal and get them to do better. You then need to be able to say “No” to their second offer of a deal and get them to do better. Perhaps, again and again… You need to be able to push hard for a better and better deal – and you WILL get it!

So, let’s say that you are on your own, you have had your part exchange appraised, you have had a test drive and you are back in the showroom trying to get that good deal. At any time, you can ring your partner and have a conversation with them – but you must do this in front of the salesperson so that they can hear you. You can tell your partner what the car is like and that you like it, what is being offered and how much it will cost you to change. Your partner can/should then say to you “No, it’s too much”. You can then come off the phone, looking all disappointed, and tell the salesperson that your partner says that you can’t afford that much and that he/she has seen another car that he/she likes anyway. Whatever! It doesn’t actually matter what your partner has said – just that you can’t do a deal at that price. It simply gives the salesperson a stronger reason to do a better deal.

The salesperson might get you to ask your partner at what price WOULD you do a deal, or what monthly repayments you CAN afford. So you should ring them back and ask them. You can then come off the phone and come up with a figure that your partner has agreed to… make sure this figure is quite a bit lower than the salesperson is talking about, in fact, just a bit too low. That really puts the onus on the salesperson to do better... they won’t necessarily agree to exactly what you want but they should certainly try to get nearer to your/partner’s figure.

This may sound strange but it is a powerful psychological tool. You have someone in the background that you, and the salesperson, have to satisfy before you agree to sign an order. The salesperson can’t talk or reason directly with that person, they can only talk to you.

This is more effective than you would ever imagine because it is exactly what most car dealers will try do to you - and in doing this you are really “turning the tables” on them.

It must have happened to you before… you are dealing with a salesperson and they keep going off to talk to the salesmanager. It’s the “hard man – soft man” routine! The salesperson is the soft man: your “friend” who is trying everything to get you a good deal. The salesmanager is the hard man: he keeps telling the salesperson to tell you that they can’t do any better. The salesperson tells you that he has already “got into trouble” with the salesmanager for offering you such a good deal in the first place and he will get laughed at if he goes back to the salesmanager to try to get a better deal for you etc etc. Some of this must sound familiar to you – things like this happen all the time - and it’s all just part of the psychological trickery and manipulation.

It doesn’t even have to be the salesmanager that the salesperson consults, it could be another salesperson or, when they are really busy and no-one is available, the salesperson will just go into the back office alone, wait for a minute or two, and then go back to the potential customer and say that “the salesmanager” has said blah-blah-blah. This actually happens!

It’s the technique that is important here… the salesperson has someone else in the background that has to be satisfied before a deal can take place: you are dealing with two people, one of whom (the nasty, hard one!) you can’t actually talk to directly. More about this in the next section.

Well, you can do exactly the same. If you have run out of reasons why you can’t agree to a particular deal, reasons why you should push for a better deal: just pick up your mobile and phone your partner in front of the salesperson.

… or ring the speaking clock

It doesn’t actually matter what phone call you make, you could ring your empty house or the speaking clock! Just have a “conversation” with this “person” and have them say “No, it’s too much” or “I’ve seen another car” and/or “Only sign up if they do that deal at £x”.

That’s right – LIE… well… tell stories! I hope by now you will realise that car salespeople lie tell stories and make up things just to get you do a to deal, whilst getting as much profit from you as they can. Do the same – you will end up saving hundreds of pounds!

By the way, be careful when you use the above technique – phoning your partner. The salesperson will probably want to speak to your partner themselves and may well try to ring them, so make sure that you haven’t already given the salesperson your home phone number!

Anyway, we are still looking at ways to make sure the sales person knows you are able to sign up there and then…

If you are getting your own finance, get it in place first

If you are getting the finance yourself – make sure it’s organised BEFORE you go to do a deal. Get agreement in principal (or the hard cash!) from your bank or finance company so that you know, and can rely on the fact, that the money is there.

When you are with the salesperson and negotiating hard for the best deal, you don’t want even the slightest doubt in your mind about whether you will get the money or not! Apart from nagging at the back of your mind and putting you off, this will show in your attitude and behaviour and you will find it harder to negotiate in a convincing way.

Plus, if they realise that you have not organised the finance yet, they will try to sell you theirs which, as you have seen, adds a further complication into the dealing process.

You also need to know how to handle the salesman ~ salesmanager relationship...

Car Salespeople ⇦ Negotiating Tactics ⇨ Salesmanager