Top 5 Car Salesman Tactics You Don’t Want in Your Showroom

Notorious car salesman tactics will scare away your customers and kill your referral business. Want to stop that from happening? Start here.

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Do you hire salespeople who only keep their eyes on immediate commissions? Having a dealership filled with this type will quickly tarnish your reputation. They use sleazy methods of selling that offer short-term benefits and quick compensation. Soon the word spreads and your dealership becomes known for unwanted car salesman tactics. You want to do better than that, right?

To keep your business growing and its reputation solid, teach your team to sell with honest car salesman tactics. Your referral business will spiral upward, and customers will want to buy cars from you. Stay away from strategies that keep customers from walking into your showroom.

5 car salesman tactics that send customers running for the hills

1. Lying to the customer

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Lying is the worst mistake you can make when dealing with potential buyers. It’s never worth it. Car buyers will lie to your salespeople, but the motivations are completely different: they lie to protect themselves. Salespeople who lie do it for personal gain.

There is also a thin line between lying and non-transparency. If a prospect doesn’t ask questions about the vehicle, you have no obligation (or incentive) to explore potential issues. However, sitting on information can come back to bite you. If he realizes something is wrong with the car afterward, he’ll blame the you for not making him aware of the issue upfront.

Lying to the customer will only lead to problems down the road. Be honest and maintain integrity—that’s how to sell cars the right way.

2. Using the bait and switch tactic

Don’t allow your salespeople to quote unrealistic trade-in prices over the phone. Does it help to get the customer into the dealership? Sure, but that’s at the expense of a potentially hostile situation once the customer shows up and gets offered a different deal. Always give the car an appraisal before offering a trade-in deal. Pulling their chain will certainly give your dealership a bad reputation.

3. Bad-mouthing other dealerships to customers

This is one of those car salesman tactics that never works. Bad-mouthing your competition makes your salespeople look foolish. Customers become defensive after hearing gossip, and judge the character of the salesman. At that point, it’s difficult to build trust and even harder to continue the sale.02-Top 5 Car Salesman Tactics You Don’t Want in Your Showroom-01

Leave other dealerships out of the conversation. If a customer asks for an opinion about the dealer down the street, just default to neutral, confident responses, such as, “They’re the competition we love to beat.”

4. The good cop/bad cop strategy that everyone knows

The “pressure” of the showroom is one of the main reasons why customers don’t like going to dealerships. People can see right through the good cop/bad cop strategy. It’s one of most widely recognized car salesman tactics. If you try to pressure hard deals, your dealership will develop a reputation of unwanted aggressiveness.

If your salesperson is having trouble and asks the manager for help, go back to the customer and discuss options together.

5. Being too honest and sending away good prospects

Finally, it’s never a good idea to be a virtuous, “Mother Teresa” sort of salesman. Dealerships are not the place for that kind of behavior. Should you be honest? Yes. Should you tell customers that some vehicles are more affordable elsewhere? No.

New people (green peas, as they say) are more susceptible to this problem. They desperately want to get on the prospect’s good side, so they’ll say things that work against making a sale.

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We’re not saying you should use honest car salesman tactics just because it’s “the right thing to do.” You have to think about the negative effects these shady methods have on your business. It’s impossible to win a customer’s trust when they know you have a bad reputation. Once the word spreads, your referral and repeat business will disappear. Keep your eyes on the long-term strategy instead. Stay honest and loyal to your customers.

Do have any tactics you tell your salespeople to avoid? How important is honest salesmanship at your dealership? Share your thoughts! 

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.