How to Negotiate With a Car Salesperson
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Buying a car is one of the most exciting things that you can do. Whether it’s a brand new car or a used car, a daily driver or your dream sports car, there are few experiences that beat the thrill of signing on the dotted line, being given your set of keys, and taking off for the first few miles in a car that’s all yours.
But buying a car can also be, well, very stressful. Before you get to drive away in your dream ride, you have to go through the more arduous bits. And, unless your dream job is to be a lawyer, for many people the worst part of that process is negotiating the price of the car with a salesperson.
Negotiating a price is an uncomfortable process that pits your desire (to get the best price possible) directly against that of the car salesperson’s desire (to make the largest commission). It’s not a lot of fun, and it’s not easy. After all, most people don't have a lot of experience haggling. You don't go to the grocery store and try to pay less for eggs! So right away the salesperson, who does this for a living, has you at an advantage.
But don't worry! There are a lot of ways to make it smooth and successful on your end. Read on to find out how to negotiate with a car salesperson.
Do Your Research
Once you identify the car you want, you need to do your research and find out exactly what it’s worth. A lot of car salespeople bank on you being ignorant about the car. If you know how much it should be selling for, you won’t entertain them if they try to rip you off, and you’ll have the evidence to force them back in your direction.
This is especially true if you're negotiating with a car salesman for a used car. Make sure you get the vehicle history reports, know the trade value, and have checked out Kelly Blue Book (also known as KBB) before you settle on a final price.
Remember — knowledge is power! The more research you do before you even arrive at the dealership, the better off you'll be throughout the entire car buying process. If you know exactly what you're looking for and willing to pay, you'll be ready with a counter offer when you start negotiating. (Though you should start a little lower than your ideal price, since you'll likely end up meeting somewhere in the middle.)
Shop Around Based on Your Price
Car salespeople make money every time they sell a car, so it’s often in their best interest to sell you a model even if they have to come down in price. So once you’ve gotten a price from one salesperson, try calling another car dealership and asking if they can beat the price. You might not have even gotten an answer before the original salesperson starts to lower their initial offer. By shopping around, you put pressure on them rather than on you.
Remember, it's their job to find you the best deal to make the sale. And if they can't do it, you'll bring your business who someone who can do their job better!
Try Not to Get Too Attached
Try to remember that there are a lot of cars out there. It’s easy to feel like you found the only perfect car for you, but there are thousands out there that are just the same. So don’t get too attached to one car. If a salesperson won’t come down to your price, don’t give in out of a fear of losing the car; there’s always another.
The salesperson you're working with will do everything in their power to get you to fall in love with a car on their lot. They may encourage you to take a test drive so you can get a feel for the leather seats, the four-wheel drive, all the things you'll love about your new car. And yes, you should take any car you're thinking about buying for a test drive. But don't be seduced into thinking that's the only car for you!
Don't Be Afraid to Walk Away (Even For Just a for a Few Minutes)
Salespeople like to be in control. They control the environment and make you uncomfortable, then capitalize on it. So keep things on your terms. Don’t be afraid to end a conversation and leave for a while. Don’t be afraid to interrupt them because you have to go to the bathroom, or get something on your car. If they give you a price you don’t like, leave without saying another word. Convey that the ball is in your court.
Bookmark this article right now. If you start to feel flustered or out of control during negotiations, excuse yourself (they have to wait for you) and reread these steps. Take deep breaths. You've got this!
Negotiating can become emotional and stressful quickly. When you’re emotional, you don’t make good decisions. So if you find yourself getting emotional, stop the negotiations, leave, and try again tomorrow.
We’ve all been in the position where we’re prepared to say something bold, then we see someone in person and cower. (Without that phenomena, twitter wouldn't exist.) So skip that part, and negotiate remotely. After you’ve found the car you want, go home, and call the salesperson later. Negotiate by phone and you’ll find yourself stronger and more confident. Plus, it’s easier to fall for their tricks.
Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to negotiate the best price for the car you want to buy.