5 Car sales psychology tricks to watch out for

For many people the prospect of buying a new car is intimidating. Unlike most purchases where you can simply stand in line with your item and then hand over your credit card for payment, purchasing a car involves much more human interaction. That can be a major drawback to potential buyers, especially when sales tactics are used to pressure customers into making a purchase.

Car salespeople have a job to do and that job involves selling you a car. In order to keep their jobs and meet their sales quotas, salespeople will engage in various psychological tactics to help clinch the deal.

  • Playing out the clock: This ploy works to keep you at the dealership as long as possible until your resolve begins to weaken and the purchase of the vehicle starts to seem like a good idea. If you have children along, they could begin to get tired and cranky and all you want to do is sign on the dotted line and drive off with your new car. Weekends are the busiest time of week for dealerships; if possible try to go during the week. Calling ahead and scheduling a test drive can prevent having to wait around the dealership. Also, packing snacks and toys to occupy your children will help keep them entertained while you consider a purchase.
  • Customer profiling: In this tactic the salesperson will assess you in a matter of seconds and tailor their sales approach to cater to what they perceive you will like. While it is practical for a salesperson to ask a few leading questions about what you are looking for in a new vehicle in order to make recommendations, watch out for a salesperson attempting to pigeonhole you into a stereotype. This tactic is fairly easy to spot and can backfire if their pitch doesn’t line up with your personality type.
  • Impending event: In this scenario the salesperson warns that something will prevent you from buying the car if you don’t buy it right now. Perhaps they say that another couple is looking at the car right after you or that the “deal” they quoted is a very limited time offer. Remember that you are in control of the transaction and you can always find a comparable purchase at another location.
  • The deal breaker focus: This is a mode of questioning where the salesperson asks leading questions in an attempt to get you to purchase the car right now. They may say, “If I could get the payments below $XXX per month, would you be willing to buy this car right now?” This tactic is designed to capitalize on impulse purchases by reframing whatever is holding you back. It could be as simple as finding the same model in a different color if you preferred black over gray.
  • Adding on extras:If you have committed to buying a car, there is one final sales opportunity to watch out for. The trip to the financial office is the dealership’s last chance to sell you additional products or services so be prepared to listen to another pitch. The financial person may ask you about adding on the warranty protection or maintenance services. A common approach is to remind you how much money you are spending on the car and then prey upon your fears that something might happen to your car at a later date.

By recognizing when these tactics are being used, you can maintain control of the transaction and prevent succumbing to the pitfalls of a lousy vehicle purchase. Remember, you can always walk away from the purchase if anything about the dealership or salesperson makes you uncomfortable.

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