The Modern Day Horse Trader

How many times have you heard that someone who is shady, or has suspect business practices is “a used-car salesman”? The phrase “car salesman” has become synonymous with someone who can’t be trusted, and while it may be fitting for a handful, the vast majority of them aren’t trying to steal your purse and run into the night with it. A great deal of salesmen are working with the same purposes as the every man, to put food on their table and keep a roof over their heads. So why are car salesmen such a misunderstood species in the workforce?

Salesmen are often difficult for people to understand because, to a lot of people, they make their living by selling things that people can’t afford, don’t need, and don’t really want. The truth, however, is that salespeople exist for a reason, meaning there is a high enough demand for what they’re selling that their item can’t be deemed completely useless. Still, however, we will often shut off the lights in our homes and hide in order to avoid a door to door salesperson. Is the reputation warranted, or have we just convinced ourselves that it is?

The dichotomy that presents itself with buying a car is that we have a natural tendency to avoid a salesperson, but in order to get a new vehicle, we have to approach them, on purpose. Nine times out of ten, the most harrowing part of buying a new car is largely because of the sales process. We don’t want to be ripped off, and few people know how to negotiate a deal properly, so we tend to break into a cold sweat at the thought of having to do so. The question is why? Why do we do this to ourselves, and why have we convinced ourselves that speaking to a car salesman is similar to a dance with the devil?

Here’s the gist of the situation; we don’t trust salespeople, in general. This is not a feeling reserved only for those who sell cars, it’s all of them. A large part of the reason behind our distrust is because we get to know most of the ins and outs of the salesperson pay structure. We know you have a quota, and we know you work on commission. For some reason, this makes people suspicious of your motives. We can’t allow ourselves to believe that you could possibly want what is best for us when we’re part of your bottom line.

The quota thing is a difficult one for most people to process. We don’t want to be just another number, to anyone, much less when we’re talking about dropping a large sum of money. Knowing that a salesperson has a monthly quota that they have to meet, makes us feel like you don’t care about the gravity of the decision to buy a new car. What we don’t see is what happens behind the scenes. We don’t see that out of fifteen people that walk into a showroom and spend a great deal of that salesperson’s time, only a handful actually walk out the door with a car. This doesn’t speak to the caliber of salesperson either, sometimes a sale just never gets off the ground.

When anyone works off of commission, people become instantly convinced that you’re out to rob us blind. This mostly generates from extreme paranoia, but it’s something we believe nonetheless. One of the most common misconceptions about car salespeople is that they make money off of every single deal. This just isn’t the case, not every single car buyer purchases the additional items that really make a car salesperson his or her money. While there are certainly unnecessary add-ons that a salesperson will try to convince you that you need, there are equally as many imperative up-sells. The commission doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to steal from you, sometimes it just means you’ll have to listen more closely during the pitch.

Telling both sides of a story is an important factor in the effort to bridge the gap between car salespeople and people that are not ensconced in the automotive world. All too often we only see things from our own perspective and we end up being suspicious of people that truly are trying to help us find the best deal. It’s true that some salespeople have ulterior motives, but it’s not the rule. Before entering into an encounter with a car salesperson, consider things from their perspective as well, you may find it helpful in the negotiation process.

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