For decades, the narrative of the shady used car salesman has been repeated. While this misconception is not entirely unfounded, it is greatly overstated. Running into a person who has a story about the time when their little sister’s best friend’s neighbor had to get involved in a car sales transaction because their kid was about to get into a bad deal makes a great story. Either the storyteller (and the person listening to the story) gets the satisfaction of “sticking it to the man”, or gets to commiserate about how they “got stuck by the man.”
In each case, the storyteller gets to tell a feel good, relatable story. What if I told you that most car salespeople are just everyday people like you and me? What if I told you that the person whom you are buying the car from wasn’t really looking to “stick it to you.”
The Narrative has Changed
High-pressure sales was definitely a thing. As I am relaying this story to you, I think back to those old commercials where goofy salesmen screamed, “COME DOWN RIGHT NOW!” with action splashes of cheap price tags on cars. Ads have changed, and so has the paradigm. Marketers in the automotive industry have learned that this high-pressure sales pitch drives customers away. The data now suggests that keeping a customer happy brings them back for a second sale, and that is better for their business. Customers no longer walk into a car lot to learn what cars are available, and what kind of pricing can be had. The internet now provides all that information for every lot in the consumer area. People who live in a metropolitan area may have a dozen choices of car dealers to work with, and they know that they can simply walk out of one, and find the same car in another lot.
High-Pressure Salesman vs. Vehicle Purchase Consultant
Now that the market paradigm has drastically changed, the salesman has been forced to change with the shift. Marketing departments are more consumer friendly, offering services that were never offered in the past. Dealerships are concentrating on post-sale satisfaction. The “car salesman” is now being educated to be a “vehicle purchase consultant”, which comes with a very different set of skills. Because the internet allows potential buyers to conduct the research outside the dealership, consumers enter the lot at the end of their buying process. The bulk of the consumers are entering the arena with an informed view, so even those who have not already taken the time to look for a car on the internet have the advantage now, since the sales consultants are trained to guide a purchase, not to push a sale.
Auto dealers know that the only way to keep a customer from running off to the next dealership is to treat them with respect and be authentic. Customers know what they want when they enter the lot and do not want to be pressured into a sale item. Gone are the days of deadline pricing and dragging customers into a booth and using bully tactics. The internet is full of reviews on dealerships, and the auto industry knows that high-pressure sales will lead to bad reviews and fewer customers on the lot. This is the best time ever to approach an automotive lot and buy your new car.
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