Don’t be afraid to test your car salesman

If you work with a good car salesperson the buying process can be fun and you will be more confident than you are. Make a good deal.

Unfortunately, most people think they should stick with the salesperson who catches them first, even if they start to feel pressured, intimidated, or misled. But, in fact, car buyers can and should take a test drive or check their seller – and be prepared to make a change if necessary.

“Qualify” your seller

“I can not imagine to buy a car from someone I didn’t think I could take care of, ”says Matt Jones, a former car salesman who is now the editor of consumer advice on auto site Edmunds.com. Plus, says Jones, a good salesperson can alert you to specials and “push the needle” when it comes to getting a better price.

“Most people don’t realize that they are in control of the salesperson they work with,” says Oren Weintraub, who negotiates and buys cars for his clients as president of Auto Authority in Tarzana, Calif. He recommends that buyers “qualify” sellers – a popular selling term – the same way they qualify you, asking probing questions about you, your job, and your budget.

Here’s what these car buying experts recommend you look for in a seller – and the red flags to watch out for.

What to look for

When checking out a seller, car buyers should look for those who:

  • Are highly recommended. Since the front desk at the dealership sees everything that is going on, Jones says you can call and “ask who the best, most knowledgeable car salesman is.” You can also view reviews on Yelp or visit the “About Us” page on the dealership’s site.

  • Respond quickly. Calling before you walk into the dealership gives you a chance to establish a rapport with your salesperson, Jones says. You can also text a question and see how quickly they respond – ideally within an hour. Then, if you want to go ahead, schedule a test drive and have them remove the car and get it ready, Weintraub explains.

  • Are expert auditors. Your auto salesperson must understand your needs and wants – and meet them. It might sound obvious, but a lot of salespeople are trying to sell you a more expensive car or whatever they have on the lot. As a test, ask them a question and listen carefully to the answer. If they answer your question directly, you’re on the right track.

  • Have excellent product knowledge. If you ask for the horsepower of a car and the salesperson responds, “I think it’s …” beware, says Weintraub. However, it is okay to say, “I’m not sure, but I’ll give you the answer right away.”

Red flags to watch out for

On the other hand, car buyers should avoid sellers who:

  • Use cheesy sales lines. “Are you here to buy a car today?” Classic lines like this, designed to trick you into making a specific response, should put you on your guard immediately, says Weintraub. A better approach is a polite welcome and introduction, as well as, “So how can I help you?”

  • Create a false emergency. Once you are physically in the field, salespeople try to turn you into a “buyer of today” using all the tricks in the book. A favorite is: “We asked three people to look at this car earlier today. It won’t be here if you go now.

  • Try to check your credit before a test drive. Some sellers say they are required to write a credit report before testing a car. This is not true. And that should be a reason to avoid this seller and, perhaps, the dealer. “Never let them manage your credit until you’re ready to buy a specific car,” advises Weintraub. However, asking to see your driver’s license before a test drive is a legitimate request.

  • Do not pay attention. If your salesperson is taking calls, texting, or joking with friends in the field, be careful. As Jones points out, “When you’re about to spend $ 35,000, the salesperson in front of you should be totally listening to you and your needs.”

Switch to a new seller

If your salesperson is showing any of these red flags, or you just don’t feel a rapport, it’s time to ask the sales manager.

“It’s never a bad idea to involve top management,” says Weintraub. “You can just explain that you are not clicking with your man and ask for a more knowledgeable salesperson.”

Jones adds, “It happens all the time and they are willing to deal with it rather than kidding you.”

At the end of the day, you should have a basic level of trust and confidence in your seller, because a massive amount of money is at stake, Weintraub says. But, of course, you must always remain vigilant. As the old saying goes, trust but verify.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.


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