• Dec 28, 2009
Despite their calm and collected appearance, car salesm... Despite their calm and collected appearance, car salesmen are under immense pressure and will often do or say anything to get you to buy a car. (Getty Images)

To a car salesman, selling cars is a game of strategy. And as in any strategic game, the more you know about your opponent, the better. When you are at a dealership, the car salesman will ask you lots of questions in order to learn as much about you as he can. So to even the score, here are five important facts that you should know about him:

1. He needs you more than you need him.

The car salesman is under a lot of stress. Since he works on commission, he doesn't eat or pay his rent if he doesn't sell a car. That's a lot to live with. In addition, his Sales Manager is constantly pressuring him to sell, sell, sell. So despite how cool and calm the salesman may appear on the surface, you can bet that underneath he's probably desperate to sell you a car.

2. He is not really in control.

The car salesman operates under the illusion that he is in control of the car-buying situation, that he's running the show. He's confident and smooth. Yet in actuality, you have the final say. And the car salesman knows this. He knows that, at any point, you can simply say "no" to his offers and "no" to his come-ons and just walk away. That's one of his biggest fears.

3. No matter what he says or does, it's probably all an act.

The car-buying situation is very theatrical. The car salesman is very much an actor. And it's safe to assume that much of his salesmanship and his lines and even his "sincerity" are, often, simply part of his performance. So do yourself a favor - don't fall for any of it.

4. He can't be fully trusted.

When you ask the car salesman a question, he may give you an honest answer. Or he may lie. Or he may say he doesn't know the answer because he really doesn't know. Or he may say he doesn't know because he wants you to think that he's not as smart as he really is. (That's a common ploy.) In other words, because the car salesman is under so much pressure to sell you a car, he may say anything to get you to buy. And he'll do it under the guise of being a nice, honest, sincere guy. So to protect yourself, it pays to never fully trust any car salesman no matter how friendly you may get with him and no matter how much you like him.

5. Aren't there any honest car salesmen?

Yes, of course there are -- just as there are honest politicians. But the problem is that there are so many unscrupulous car salesmen and the nature of their game is so tricky. And it's sometimes the ones who seem the most honest who are actually the trickiest. So play it safe. Be friendly with the car salesman. Treat him with respect. But never forget that his intention is to take as much money from you as possible.


Read More About Car Buying:

- Car Buyer Secrets
- Car Buyer School
- Car Buyer FAQs

Michael Royce is a consumer advocate and former car salesman. For more car-buying tips and advice, visit his Beat The Car Salesman website.



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