Car salesmen will say anything to sell a car. It’s true, mostly, and it’s not their fault, at least not totally. After all, negotiating the purchase of a car is a game in which buyers are liars (and famous salesperson slogan) and salesmen are trying to take you (or so buyers think). Neither side is right – well, okay, maybe both sides are right. So in order to help our brother and sister car buyer out there, we’ve put together a list of top car salesmen lines, what they really mean and why you need to pay attention.
“If I sell it to you at that price, we’re not going to make any money.” Fact is, there’s so much money packed away in the price of a car that dealers practically trip over profits. For example: sticker price is often thousands above invoice, which is what the dealer actually pays for the vehicle, right? Wrong. The dealer pays less than invoice, thanks to cash rebates given to the dealership by the automaker. Called marketing support, the salesperson doesn’t have to tell you about it, so…go ahead and do the math. There’s also “dealer holdback,” a 2 percent or more cushion that gets paid back to the dealership. Many salespeople will start at MSRP, or sticker price, and if they get you to buy for that, well, that trip to Vegas just included a game of high stakes poker.Negotiate off of the invoice price, and if you are patient you may get close to it.
2. “Lemme see what my manager says.” Ahh. There’s nothing better than putting a prospective buyer on ice while also creating the illusion that the salesperson is on your side. It’s all part of the game, so be patient and relax, knowing that your friend is really trying to get you to spend more than you want, all while driving up your desire to buy the car. After all, when you spend six hours sitting in a plastic chair drinking bad coffee, you’re not likely to walk away. Hint: you should always be ready to walk. It’s the one thing a salesperson never wants, because they know you will not be coming back.
3. “If I can match that price, will you buy this car today?”(Let’s see what this clown’s starting price is…) Psst: he’s not going to match that price. What your salesman is doing is gathering information and figuring out how much more you’ll pay, based on your reaction to the question, your body language and, of course, your answer. Give a salesperson a concrete idea as to how much you’ll pay and they’ll set their game plan in motion, grinding on you until you move up, and up, from your original price. The goal here is to get you talking: the more you talk, the more you give away.
4. “How can I earn your business today?” He knows the answer. It’s for him to make your day and give you the deal of a lifetime. What he’s really asking, however, is this: How much money can I get you to spend on this car?” Just as in number 3, it’s all about your starting point: the real negotiation doesn’t start until you give them a dollar figure, or some indication as to what you’re willing to pay. How you answer, what you say and your reaction will give him a volume of information that he will use against you when it comes to negotiation.
5. “It’s all about the payments.”(I think I can get you to pay sticker or more…)This is the gold mine: Many salesmen don’t want you to think about the total price. Break it up into smaller payments, and, why all of a sudden it sounds like a good deal. Unfortunately, the contract lists the total price of the vehicle, including interest and fees, all of which you have to pay. Always negotiate the price of the car, not the payment!
6. “The only one like it left on the lot has (more equipment) is (more expensive) has (an ugly paint job)…” (I need to get rid of that glow-in-the-dark Civic, or I need to move that up market trim no one wants)
Sure. They don’t make many white Honda Civics. Nah. So you better jump at that last model, before it goes. Um…not so much. Fact is, there’s another dealership down the street or across town, and all dealerships are able to swap cars to get the kind you wish to buy. Be patient and walk out the door, use the Internet to find the exact car you want, or make sure the salesman can trade for the model of your dreams. Again, always be willing to walk out the door no matter how much time you’ve invested.
7. “This deal is only good today, so let’s get it done.”(Time to put on the pressure. Come on man, sign on the dotted line!) There’s actually a better deal starting tomorrow, but then you didn’t want to know about that, right? Remember that everything a salesperson says to you is uttered with one single driving purpose: Get you into a car. This includes rebates or other discounts. And even though manufacturer rebates don’t come out of a salesman’s pocket, you want to be informed before you go into the dealership so YOU know when that rebate ends, and if there are any other discounts available. If you’re informed, you’ll know about the marketing support cash automakers give to the dealer…that extra thousand dollar discount they could give you, but don’t have to tell you about…
8. “If I could get your payments under $______, would you buy today?”
(Let’s see what this clown’s starting price is…)This is a triple whammy: Answer this question and you tell the salesperson what your starting point is – you’re sure to pay more – what kind of financial situation you may be in, and, as a bonus, it gets you thinking about the payment and not the price. Do this, and you’re halfway home to paying sticker or more.
9. “How much were you planning to put down?”(Let’s see what this clown’s starting price is…)Similar to number 8, answer this question and you give away an entire portfolio of information, such as how much you have saved, what your credit is probably like, and whether or not the salesperson can get you to think payment and not price. If you say that you were thinking about putting no money down, they’ll grind you into a nub.
10. “We’ll just run your credit report to see if we can get you a better deal.” (How money savvy is this person?)Let them run the report. But if you’ve got bad credit, they’ll beat you over the head with it, make you believe that they can finance you for less and that they will help you – because no one else will loan a loser like you the cash for a car. If your credit is good, they know you have money – real or otherwise – and will negotiate based on primo interest rates, tricking you into negotiating payment instead of price. Everything is up for negotiation when it comes to buying a car, so while the finance guy may indeed offer you an excellent interest rate, be prepared with a pre-approved loan at the best rate you can get. If they can beat that…good for you!