Secret Tricks of Car Salesmen

Car Talk: What's the biggest red flag about which buyers should be aware?

Deep Plaid: A false sense of sincerity. Most car shoppers pick up on this, though. If the salesman goes through a little extra trouble for the customer, then they know he's being sincere. In this business especially, you need to earn a customer's trust.

Car Talk: How about a few shopping tips?

Deep Plaid: First, don't fall in love with one specific model or color. If he's any good, your salesman will pick up on this immediately, and it will cost you dearly!

Second, I'd suggest you avoid shopping on Saturday. By the time Saturday rolls around, most salesmen have worked a long week, 40+ hours, and they're ready for a break. It's just not a great time to approach them.

Third - and this is just for new car shoppers - consummate your car deal during the last two days of the month. Why? Because the sales guys works on a monthly quota. You may well get a salesman who's closing in on a $1,000 bonus. All he might need is your purchase to make it happen. That gives you a lot of power, though you may never know it.

Here's what I suggest: look around during the middle of the month. By the end of the month, have your purchase narrowed down and your financing arranged. You'll be ready to close the deal and the salesman will know that you're serious. You'll be in a very strong position to negotiate.

Car Talk: Tell us about some of the training sessions you went to.

Deep Plaid: I went to all the seminars. They teach you everything from the big picture right down to important little details. I thought Chrysler always held the best training sessions, with excellent speakers, including Jackie B. Cooper, he was like the Rodney Dangerfield of car salesmen. We loved his training schools.

At the start of the day, you'd see a bunch of really nice prizes: color TV's, stereos. They'd tell you, "We're going to have a test at the end of the day. The ones who score the highest will get these prizes." There was a real incentive to pay attention.

Car Talk: What's an example of the "big picture" lessons?

Deep Plaid: Let me give you two examples from Chrysler.

In the late 80's, Chrysler spent millions of dollars researching women buyers. They were convinced they were missing a huge market. They taught us to stop patronizing women buyers. They wanted us to stop saying things like, "Where's your husband?" and begin treating all women car shoppers like serious prospects and real car buyers!

Then, Chrysler followed up on us. They used women shoppers. If one of them came to your dealership, and you treated her correctly, you'd get a bonus of anywhere from $500 to $5,000 from Chrysler. I met a salesman from Dallas who got a $1,000 bonus.

Here's another example. Jackie B.Cooper always used to say, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." It's corny, but it's true. When they know you care, and are sincere about their wants and needs, only then will you get the sale.

I always tried to stay in close touch with all my customers. I sent them Christmas cards and a note when someone in their family passed away. I'd even attend funerals. I wanted them to know I was genuinely concerned.

Car Talk: But, wait a minute! It sounds like you just wanted the next sale!

Deep Plaid: I was always thinking about how I was going to make the next sale. No doubt about! When you're working on commission, it's the only way you can survive.

But, you know, it was sincere. I truly cared about them. You won't do very well in sales, over the long term, if you don't really care about people and want to help them.