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Auto Sales Tactics - Part 1

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Auto and Trucks
If you are considering purchasing a new car or truck (this applies to used vehicles also), you should be aware of a few things about the salesperson you are about to encounter. To get the sale and maximize profit, auto dealerships teach their sales force some variation of the "10 steps to the sale". This is part one of a three part series entitled "Auto Sales Tactics" which will cover steps 1-3 of the 10 step process. These articles will help you to be prepared for your next dealership experience.

The belief is that the steps to the sale are always the same and that as a salesperson you cannot skip a step or take shortcuts. If the salesperson finds that he or she is stuck on a particular step and can't get you to move on to the next one, they will most likely make a "turn". That is, turn you over to another person. The idea being that a fresh face or different personality will be able to move you on to the next step. A turn is not always a bad thing. You may truly dislike the person you are working with to the point of being unable to purchase the vehicle you actually want.

Lets take a look at steps 1-3:

1) Meet and greet - First impressions are important. A clean cut and neatly dressed salesperson should introduce him or her self with enthusiasm and a smile. For example, "Hi, my name is Bill. Welcome to ABC Motors. And your name is?" This step is obvious and you should expect no less. But if your first impression of the salesperson is negative you will probably not be purchasing a vehicle from this person. Would you buy a car from a guy with slicked back hair who is wearing sunglasses and smoking a cigarette? Probably not!

Most customers will inform their salesperson at the time of the meet and greet that "I'm only looking" or I'm not buying today". A good sales representative will assume that what you are really saying is, "I'm looking for the best deal and someone who I feel good about buying a car from!" In many cases this is true. But if your intent is only to gather information then don't get caught up in the moment and lose sight of your objective.

2) Building Rapport - Here the salesperson is trying to earn your trust and to sell him or her self to you the client. They might engage you in small talk in an attempt to find common ground. Maybe ask you about your family or notice a bumper sticker on your car and use that as a starting place for a conversation.

Of course, all the time they are trying to get into your head. You should be aware of the implications if what you are saying as it relates to the sales process. The salesperson wants to understand your personality type and discover what motivates you so that you can be moved successfully through the sales process. This is, in a way, part of the qualifying process, (step 4) which will be covered extensively in the next part of this series.

3) Sell the Dealership - The purpose here is obvious. To convince you that this is the best place to make your purchase and of course have your vehicle serviced in the future. You might hear something like, "It was really smart of you to come here. Most people shop all over town but eventually end up here". Don't allow your ego to be pumped up with garbage like this. Maintain your objectivity!

Some very good salespeople will actually go so far as to give you a guided tour of the facility and introduce you to the parts and service departments before you actually purchase a vehicle. This is an excellent tactic and really is a service to you also. From the point of view of the salesperson it is part of "assuming the sale" and on the client side you get a good overview of the place you may be doing business with for years to come if you do end up purchasing a vehicle there.

In part two of this series we will continue the "10 steps to the sale" with "qualifying." This is, from the salespersons point of view, the most important step in the process.