With 20 years of experience behind us and thousands of deals successfully negotiated and closed, we’ve learned that separating research and test driving from negotiating and doing the price discussions over the phone works best. Face to face negotiations are unnecessary and time consuming.
Do your research, test drive your cars and determine your starting offer/target price. The following structure and scripts can be used in person or over the phone.
Now it’s time to work the phones. The idea of calling is to achieve a price lower than you already have through the online pricing work you’ve just done. Call dealers on the periphery of the area where you would naturally go to shop for a car. In a polite, businesslike fashion with a positive smile (on your face and in your voice) make an extremely low offer — anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500 below your target price. Regardless of how the salesperson responds, repeat your offer or tell them “I’d like to get a price as close to that as possible. Please call me back as soon as you can, I’d really like to buy the car right away.” Give them your phone number and fax number.
Once you’ve started the conversation, this first phone call should last under five minutes. Excuse yourself if it runs on — you’re a busy person. Then merrily call the next dealer. Be up-tempo, positive and indicate that you really want to buy a new car right away. Although you’ll be encouraged to stay on the phone longer, to qualify you as a real buyer, it’s a disservice to your position to stay on the phone longer. All that needs to be communicated is what you want to pay for a car and the niceties of the day. A little humor can break up everybody’s monotony and add some warm feelings. If a dealer feels good about you at the right moment you may save a lot of money.
Script #1- Initial Contact/First call
Shopper = New Car Buying Guide/You/The Buyer
SP = Salesperson
Replace the name of the car, your location, phone number and other requirements with our samples.
Shopper: Dial the Dealership.
Receptionist: “Hi, we’re having a great day at Buy-Today Motors.”
Shopper: “Hi, my name is Shopper …and I need to buy a car. What salesperson would you have your mom work with if she were buying a car at your dealership? By the way, how long have you worked there? Are there any salespeople that are really helpful and well-mannered?
Receptionist: “Three years, I’ll put you through to Sammy, …….oh..he’s on the line, here, let me put you through to Joe Shadee. He’s really a gentleman, he knows the cars well….”
Shopper: “Thank you, I’ll hold on….”
(Hold message, soothing, confidence inspiring purchase stimulating music. Be patient, 3-5 minutes is a common hold time for personal service.)
Shopper: “Hi, is this Joe Shadee? Hi, my name is Shopper and I live in Paducah, Kentucky. I’m going to give you my phone number, because I need to buy a RAV4, four-door, four-wheel drive, as soon as you can get me one. If you have a pen and paper handy, maybe I can give you my phone number and then list out what I’m looking for and you can get back to me on it. Is that okay with you?”
SP (Joe): “Oh, I’m over here in parts for a minute, if you hold on, I’ll transfer you to my desk, I’ll be right there.”
(More of that good ‘ol hold snoozic.)
SP: “Hi, I’m back.”
Shopper: “Hi, may I call you Joe?”
SP: “Sure, go right ahead!”
Shopper: “Please call me Shopper. First, let me give you my work phone number, it’s 555-555-5555. It’s best to call me during the day. Sometimes I’ll just have to give you a call back if I can’t get to the phone.”
[Don’t volunteer what you do for a living or where you work.]
Let me list for you what I want to buy. I need a RAV4 with four doors, automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. I don’t want any of that Toyo Guard body coating stuff, because I like to wax my own car and I’ll use Scotchguard, on the seats, you know. Also, I don’t want you putting any dealer labels on the car or license plate advertising frames or any of that, please……”
Shopper: “I want the all-weather guard equipment, the convenience package, the rugged package and I like those sport side bars, the upgrade package that gives me power windows, locks and of course, I’ve got to have the moon roof, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes and limited slip differential, the keyless entry and the 3000 security system, cruise control and the aluminum wheels, that include the 235 tires and the fender flares.”
SP: “Uh…huh…got that…okay..that’s the AL package.”
Shopper: “On the inside I want the upgraded speakers and the six-disc changer, in the back I want the cargo mat and the cargo net to hold things in place when I’m off-roading, oh,…did I say this has to be an automatic transmission? Because it needs to be.”
SP: “Is that everything? That’s a pretty loaded vehicle.”
Shopper: “Oh, I forgot to mention I want that removable luggage rack, that’s pretty neat. Also, I want it in Confetti Blue. How soon do you think you might have exactly what I want?”
SP: “Well, to get you this exact order it’s usually about 90 to 120 days. We don’t take factory orders. But I’m sure we can find something that you’ll like.”
Shopper: “I really want what I want and I’m willing to wait. I want to give you a deposit, but I’d like to agree to a price first. I’m glad to give you a deposit, today, tomorrow or as soon as you can call me back with a price. I’d like to be as close to $25,834. That’s what those price printouts say from the Internet. I know they’re off a little. But I want to buy my RAV4 as close to invoice as possible.”
SP: (Laughing) “Well, that’s a pretty tall order! We’ve usually been getting full retail for these.”
Shopper: “Well, I really need to get it right around that twenty-five-eight price I gave you. Please, do your best. Talk to your manager or whoever you have to. I really need to be below twenty six.”
SP: “Well, I can tell you right now they’re not going to do that. I mean it just doesn’t seem to make any sense to bring that to the manager, he’s not going to do that. Can’t you come up some?”
Shopper: “Please do your best. Ask Mr. Toyota if you have to.”
SP: “Well, Shopper that’s below our invoice price, we’d be losing money if we sold the car for that. I can’t ask my manager to do that?
Shopper: “Joe, please go talk to him. I want you to get a price as close to that as possible. Just see what he’ll do, because I do need to buy a car soon. And I do want to buy a Toyota RAV4, just like the one I described. Do you have all the specifications? Please talk with him. Look, I won’t make a deal until I talk with you. So please call me back as soon as you can. Go to your favorite manager, whoever you think will give you the price break. Call Japan if you have to, (tee he, tee he) but help me save the most money. I know you work hard for your money, too, so maybe I can try to close the deal soon.”
SP: “How are you planning to buy the car, lease or loan, Shopper?”
Shopper: “Well, I have my financing arranged. But maybe you can do better. We’ll talk about that after we establish the price. Anyway, give me a call later, Joe, good talking with you. Thanks for your time. I appreciate your consideration. Please get back to me. I’d really like to buy my new car from you.”
SP: “You’re asking a lot, but I’ll try to get back to you today. Are you going to be at this number?”
Shopper: “Yes, I will. Bye-bye.” (Hang up the phone. Click.)
SP: “Bye-bye, now.”
Script #2 – Call back from salesperson 24 hours later. (You may have to call.)
SP: “Hi, Shopper. I think I have some good news for you. I think we found a car you’ll like, because its equipped exactly as you like it, oddly enough. Although, usually that’s just not the case. And it’s got your favorite interior, grey, because I’m sure you know that’s the only one they offer.”
Shopper: “Great! Were you able to get to twenty-five-eight for me?”
Joe: “Well, we had to go a little bit higher, the best we can offer is $26,450. That’s about $1,200 over our cost and that’s a real good deal.”
Shopper: “How soon can you get my car? Do you have the 17-digit vehicle identification number for me?”
SP: “I’d be happy to give that to you if you want to place a deposit.”
Shopper: “Well, I haven’t finished all my shopping yet and I really wish your price was a bit lower. How about this SP? I’ll give you a call in 24 hours, before I finalize anything. Thank you for your effort. I appreciate it. I’ll talk to you later. Take care. Thank you.”
SP: “Mr. Stingee, one of the owners, just walked in to the dealership. Hold on. Let me talk with him and see if he’ll give a little further….”
Shopper: “Please, give me a call back. I can’t hold on right now. I need to get going. Can you call me or should I call you in a few hours?”
SP: “Call, me back in a half hour, if you like, I’ll be ready.”
Shopper: “Okay, I’ll probably call in a few hours. Bye-bye.”
Shopper’s thoughts after hanging up: “Gee, I wish he would have given me about $800 over invoice. That’s the price I really want to meet. I would have given him a Mastercard or Visa, right away to lock up the deal if he had given me that price. He could have faxed me a purchase order.”
The way to act on those thoughts is to now call the dealers closest to you. You have the negotiating experience, so when you think you’ve hit the best price, be ready to pounce with a deposit of $1,000 and a purchase order written up to include all your specifications. Deposits can be placed by telephone with a credit card, signed purchase orders can go back and forth by mail. But, whatever you do, don’t wait longer than 24 hours to pounce or the deal may disappear.
The difference between an expert and a novice is the expert knows when to pounce.
Regardless, don’t stay in the dealership or on the phone with the salesperson for more than 10 minutes or you’ll lose ground. This researcher’s observations are that positive negotiation can yield hundreds or thousands of dollars of cost savings.
Have a great time and keep your eye on the target — buying a new car. Don’t let anyone distract you from your goal — getting the lowest possible price. Have fun with the process and enjoy your new car!