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either / or and "if I could, would you?" scenarios controlled.....
Published on April 9, 2004 By Sean Conners aka SConn1 In Business
Ok. we're in the box. Throughout the process, the salesperson has been peppering you with certain "closing" questions. Here, in the box, those questions will increase in frequency. Most of them will not seem like questions that you are giving commitments to, but they are.

Remember when I brought up a very common question that the sales manager or sales person may ask you. The question was "Pretty nice car, isn't it?" The important part of that question is "isn't it?" The way it is designed (and that can vary slightly) is to get a response, usually a positive one. If you pay attention, you will see that "isn't it?" or other similar phrase used over and over during the process. "Nice stereo, isn't it?" "That's a great color, don't ya think?" "Do you feel the power when you accelerate?" and so forth....every one is designed to get a response and implant a seed in your mind that will produce an overall more positive image of that car. The dealer hopes that will convert into a "yes" and you buy the car.

Also "in the box" you will get some other types of questions. You might also get these questions fired at you throughout the process. Sales people call these "trial closes." They are a barometer of how close you are to commit. Again, it is in your best interest to be honest, but in uderstanding how they are phrased to get a certain response from you, you can be honest and not fall into their traps.

The questions will be "either or" type of questions most commonly. An example would be "do you want the V8 or V6?" or "do you like the red or blue better?" And the question can be phrased to highlight anything on the car the salesperson wants. The important part is that in answering, you seemingly must commit to one of the options given. This is the same technique that I used with my son @ age 2 to prevent tantrums. It worked on him, and it works on adults as effectively.

Let's say it's really important to you (and you have admitted it) to have a great sound system. You have been looking at 2 cars, almost identical except one has the "premium sound" stereo and the other has the stock stereo, which is good, but not great. In order to "get you off" the one car and focus on 1 car only and really close the sale, he may ask you, acting like he has no knowledge of your interest..."do you need the good stereo or will the regular one do?"

90% of the people will concede that they need the better sound system. This allows the salesperson to steer you into the narrower field of 1 car instead of trying to simotaneously pitch 2 vehicles. He knows that when you go in the box, you will want numbers on both cars, and possibly more, if he cannot narrow it down to one car. If he goes to a manager asking for numbers on multiple cars, there is a good chance he will be met with a comment like " go back and sell them 1 car and i'll give you some numbers" or something much ruder. the salesperson will then return to the customer and explain that the manager is tied up and he will be able to get the information in just a few minutes.

In the meantime, he will go back to pitching the car, desperately trying to narrow it down to one so he can actually get some numbers. Most managers know that it is a complete waste of time to give out bunches of quotes on multiple cars to someone who they figure will just take the info home, where the numbers will be matched or beaten by someone else, or just lost or forgotten. And he has almost a century of car selling stats to back that up. Most people don't "come back" as promised. Unless they can somehow lure them back to the dealer with a persuasive follow up call, they know that the odds of you or anyone else coming back are low.

From your perspective, you figure that the dealer should be getting you whatever numbers you want. If you want 10 quotes, you should get them with a smile. And if they resist, they are just lying scumbags and you just won't buy there.

Well, despite your personal protest, they could care less. Again, statistically, they know that odds are that if you aren't interested in 1 particular car on their lot, that you have no real motivation to return. They know that despite whatever you say, that these numbers so generously given, will be either used as ammunition or a source of confusion. What they don't do is close sales. And that is why they are there, remember?

There is a way around this however. This will put your salesperson on their heels a little more, and almost force them to give you the multiple quotes you want. going back to our example of the sound system, you could answer like this..." i do prefer the premium sound, but i could live with the regular stereo for a short time and replace it down the road with a good aftermarket like an alpine." Now what you have done is shut down his "either or" option. You back up your first statement with something like..." i just wanna see which one is more cost effective in the end." Don't say cheaper or "which one has a better payment" or anything like that. The key word is "cost effective."

Cost effectiveness is different from initial expense. Now the salesperson actually has to think instead of giving textbook questions. He may try another either / or type question on another feature that you may have taken a shining to, but now he has lost his control of you. He expected you to choose one. When you choose one, that allows him to focus his sales pitch on that car. Now, with the other cars out of the way, he can hone in on why this car is the ONLY car for you.

Instead, you have forced him to continue pitching at least 2 cars and if you can keep that up all the way into the box, you will get the numbers you want on as many cars at you want. This time, when the salesperson walks in to ask for multiple quotes, he will feel like he has ammunition. When the manager tries to throw him back to you to sell some more, the salesperson will explain where he's stuck. he knows he asked the questions he was supposed to, and this is a "T.O." point. if the manager wants to get off his lazy ass, or more likely, the manager will give in and at least for now quote on multiple cars.

what you did back there is made the salesperson go into an area where he is not an expert. Stereos work great for this because most salespeople don't know much about car stereos that are not installed by the factory or installed by a vendor "aftermarket" on their lot. we'll discuss aftermarket options later, but for now, just know that most car salespeople live , eat and breathe cars so much that they don't know much about products that aren't offered on their lot.

He may try to steer you into one of their after market stereos. You can easily balk at this, saying you already have a system in mind. Even if you don't know anything about stereos, just know that a decent CD player, with a high ppowered amp from a good brand and some good speakers will run you under 500 bucks installed these days. If you just upgraded the head unit, under 300 is realistic without really shopping prices.

The base unit that dealers always use (cause they are cheap) will be just as expensive with inferior quality. These systems come in handy when a car has a tape deck and the customer just wants a cd player instead and doesn't want any hassles. But at retail prices of under 150 installed and that installation guaranteed, the 300 the dealer wants to charge you for the "like for like" exchange is way expensive and can be shot down easily.

the main point is, try not to commit to either of the options. Recognize both as being viable if possible (don't lie, but do think outside the box and the dealerships services) and keep the salesperson forced to keep options open to more than one car. This is huge ammunition to a buyer if they can pull it off, which, with a little thinking and the awareness of the salesperson's motive in the questions, is not hard at all.

The other big phrase used in the car business, especially in the box, is the "if I could, would you?" line. For example..."if i could lower the price by 200 dollars, would you buy today?" or "If I could get the manager to give you 4000 for your trade, do we have a deal?"

This question can have more than 1 motive, unlike the either / or scenario. Sometimes they are asking you for a commitment on something they already know they can do. For example, before he left the manager's tower, he may have been told, "if you can close them at this number do it, if you need to get 500 more for the trade to close it, then we'll do that. But the gross will come out of your end."

When he returned and gave you the numbers, and you balked, he used "if i could, would you?" to close the sale. He already knows that you are going to get your 500. But he also knows that if he gets up and says "let me see if I can do that" without getting your commitment, all he has is a lower number to negotiate with, not a sale. So, he gets your commitment and leaves. 5minutes later, he comes back, wiping his brow, saying that he can meet you halfway or caving to your demand, depending on several things. He may decide to hold some of the money because he has already calculated a commission, or just that he wants to look "strong" to the management (which means a lot and of course, will be explained later) or whatever reason.

For now, let's take the easier scenario where he just comes back and puts out his hand and says "you have a deal." This is a question you shouldn't be afraid of. Often times, it gets you what you want. It does also get them what they want, a sale.

If you didn't get your demands met, it could be that they were unreasonable and outside what the market bears, or it could be for a host of other reasons. Whatever it is, if they weren't met, you have a perfect excuse to leave without feeling guilty that you didn't give them every opportunity to sell you a car.

Sometimes the salesperson does not know the answer to the question beforehand. Sometimes he may actually have to go ask, or even beg to get a demand met for you. In defense of salespeople, and speaking from personal experience, many times, salespeople are much more of a "buyer's agent" than a "seller's agent" meaning they do fight for you more than you realize. Their goal is the sale.

And especially on new cars, where most dealers pay flat fees to the salespeople regardless of the selling price, the salesperson could care less really if the car makes or loses money for the dealer. They know that the manager will feel the wrath of too many weak deals from the owner long before he'll be chastized for it. They want you to get your deal and buy and help them make a living.

If the salesperson doesn't know the answer, and must ask for authorization from a manager to do things, he will be hit with 1 question from the manager..."if i do this, will they buy now?" If the answer is yes, then the manager is much more likely to cave in than if the salesperson says "well, they still haven't decided yet." This will most likely get the manager out of his chair. What he sees is a good customer being handled poorly by the consultant. There you will get direct answers to your questions. If the manager tries to play dumb or without power, call the bluff. Let him know that if he wants a commitment now, you need this to happen. Unless your demand is unreasonable, you should have it met or at least a good compromise should be offered.

If you are not ready to buy, don't falsely commit. But if you have a few extra bucks, you can offer to put down a deposit. As far as I know, ALL deposits are refundable here, unless explicitly stated beforehand. Even then, in many cases, the consumer can recover their deposit.

A deposit will hold a car, kind of. It will hold the commitment from the dealer. It supposedly holds the car, and on most lots, that is honored. Officially however, that car can still be sold to another customer. And occasionally it happens. You can complain, but the fact is that your deposit can be refunded and no harm legally at least, was done.

But if a dealer will take a deposit and a delivery date of tomorrow, you are in business. Now you have firm commitment paperwork to take to other dealers on what is at least in your mind, a pretty good deal. At least it should be. After all, they did meet your demands. But now, you can go test that without dealing with the sales process all over again. Now you cna walk into another dealer, or on the phone, ask for the manager and simply ask them if they can beat this deal. Then all weight will be on them to beat the deal. If the deal is strong and really has met the "bottom line" for that market, the best offer you will get is a match or a token beating of the intial deal.

But if the deal is high, you will get a much better offer. Of course, they will demand a "now" commitment. They are not going to accept a deposit and let you leave without signing a contract. By the way, that is when you actually own the car, when the papers are signed. Not when the car drives off the lot. Sometimes dealers will "spot" cars without paperwork being signed for whatever reason, such as waiting on a finance approval. They allow you to drive off with an appointment to come back and sign later or the next day. This is known as "puppy dogging" and was referenced in an earlier segment. But in this scenario, unlike the other one given earlier, you have the impression that you do own the car, but you don't legally.

But the 2nd dealer is not going to allow that to happen. They are smart enough to know that this will only begin a chain of him and the other dealer running around in circles to try to sell you a car. And in the end, is just as likely not to get the sale as he is to get it. But even if he gets it, it will cost him more money after doing more work.


To the 1st dealer, this is an embarrassment with little equal. And dealers love to steal deals in this way. For them, it is an easy transaction, despite being skinny. And just the knowledge that they literally took business from their competition carries a lot of weight egotistically speaking. This is the sales equivalent of intercepting a pass and running it back for a touchdown in football or a triple play in baseball.

Now you should have a good idea of the types of questions you will be asked and just how they are looking to close the sale. From the salesperson's perspective, if he has answered your questions, found a vehicle that meets your needs and done everything he can to make your visit a good one, he has earned the right to ask you to buy. And he's right, he has. That doesn't mean you have to say yes. But you probably shouldn't be offended by him trying to make a living at this point. If he is a good consultant, he hasn't ignored your wishes or been rude with you. He has done exactly what you expect of him.

In knowing the types of questions, like "either / or" type or "if i could, would you?" which almost all questioning is based in sales, you are now prepared to answer in ways that won't put you in a corner. Before, you were probably baffled at how you ended up settled on one car after only 40 minutes on the lot after you swore wouldn't happen when you left the house. But on the other hand, everything did seem right, even tho you were way off your original plan.

That was because you arrived. And even tho you swore you wouldn't let some salesperson follow you around and pester you,,,he did. Somehow, you wound up in a conversation that lead to this car. And now you are in a box, totally out of control, and about to sign on a car you had no intention of buying. Despite your strong will, you were simply outmatched by a more prepared adversary. He was ready for every one of your lines that you thought would work. After a while, the difference between what you wanted to do and what he wanted you to do became indistinguishable, even by you.

If you followed my advice from this series, you should know enough by now that when you got into the box, you were in control. And when you are in control going in there, maintaining it and being confident in your purchase when you do commit will be with much less confusion and frustration. You will know how to get that great deal without being a master negotiator. All you needed was a little preperation and some inside knowledge on what the enemy's attack plan is. With those 2 things and a dash of patience and common sense, you are now ready to choose a car and make a great deal for yourself.

More to come...including follow up information, getting a deal in other sales environments, how to pick up on the "salesperson" lingo when in the dealer or store, rip off and sleazy techniques and much more...

to catch up on this series, "Why We Hate Salespeople", go here...

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