Where do we start with “tricks of the trade”?
The motor trade over the years, especially the used or second-hand (or as it likes to be known today the ‘previously enjoyed’) car sector has suffered, quite deservedly in some cases, with a tagline of suspicion, mistrust, and resentment.
Let’s start by looking at some of the root causes;
To start with, way back, when a lack of information meant customers lacked any real knowledge about the products on offer and whether they were getting a good deal, or indeed getting well treated when attempting to buy a used car. A customer may see a car advertised locally in the motoring section and call up saying they were interested and go check it out. At this point the only information they would get is from the Salesperson at the dealer they visited. Therefore with nothing to compare with, unless they were physically prepared to visit several other dealers, they often took the deal on offer. They only realised they had been ripped off when they came to trade in the car or realised it was not really the right car for their needs.
I remember one of the first powerful sound bites I used when closing a deal;
’Sir/Madam I would love to sell you this car, but more importantly I want to make sure it’s the right car for you!’
Of course I meant the right car that earned me the most commission! I was not really interested in whether the car was right or not as long as they bought it and I hit my targets!
Another well worn phrase you may have heard down the years is;
‘Have a look at it and judge it for yourself’
Again I am inferring that I am caring and interested in you making a good choice, as long as it’s my choice!
Basically targets needed to be hit and perhaps the most important thing is that the basic salary for a salesman could be as low as £3000 per year but with a great commission scheme and bonuses for hitting targets and selling add-ons. A few white lies and a bit of skulduggery here and there would not stand in the way of a salesman and his commission. I have known some guys say to customer’s things like;
‘You don’t need to worry about the colour you won’t see it when you’re driving’ and
‘Oh you need to speak to your wife before you commit, is she the decision maker at home?’
There is also;
‘You need to make a decision on the car now as otherwise my colleague will sell it’
I have actually used a set-up technique where if I was getting close to a closing but the customer just needed a little nudge I’d get one of my colleagues to come rushing up and ask if the car I have just taken my customer out in is still for sale as he has someone “hot to trot” and will buy it today! I could then say to my customer;
‘I don’t want to put you under pressure but you really need to decide now’.
Then there’s the old “reverse close”;
“Of course if it’s not really what you want then we can find you something else’
The customer invariably does not want to go through all this again on another car and usually folds at this point, another victim.
These are all cute selling methods, but the more sinister stuff happens when downright lies are told. I have seen salespeople convince a customer that a car has air-conditioning because the dial has a re-circulation switch on it!
I have seen guys say to customers we can touch the chips in for you at our bodyshop and then do it themselves with typewriter correction fluid or permanent marker.
A customer once came to pick up his car on the big day but, unbeknown to him, it had got damaged in the valet bay and was scratched down one side. The salesman just parked it so close to the wall that the customer couldn’t get around for a full inspection and in his joy at driving off in his new car didn’t see the damage. On his return, having discovered the damage, he was told that the car was fine when it went out but we could do a good deal for him on the repair costs!
Of course these things are much less likely to happen today, and with the internet and better protection for consumers the customer is not only well informed but if they don’t like the deal or the salesperson they can simply go elsewhere. The tricks performed by the modern salesperson are more likely to be along the lines of creating a perceived value in something which is essentially quite inexpensive to buy. So you will find yourself being asked more leading questions such as;
‘How much did you want to spend a month’ or ‘what monthly budget have you set yourself’ even though you hadn’t even mentioned finance.
You will also be shown examples of the great harm that will befall you and your car if you don’t take out gap insurance or paintwork protection, of course all great profit centres for the dealer.