The Foursquare Write-up. Step Two: Trade-in

This section is where the commitment process begins. Even with the “foursquare,” remember the salesman’s goal is to have the customer commit to buying a car that day at any price. The traditional technique is to present the customer with three “hit-figures” and then take the customer’s offer. A “hit-figure” is a value that is artificially high or low and is designed to influence the customer’s offer. In the case of the trade-in, the “hit figure” will be very low, because the dealer will want to pay the least possible amount for the customer’s vehicle.

For example, the customer may believe that his trade-in is worth $10,000. Therefore, the salesmen will use a low “hit-¬figure” of $6,000. This amount will be so low that it will often upset the customer. This is the desired effect; they want to shock the customer. By using a low trade-in amount, the customer may begin to doubt his $10,000 value. Also, it provokes a response from the customer.

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The customer many respond by saying, “That’s ridiculous. My trade- is worth far more than that!” Now the salesman will usually justify his “hit-figure” by saying, “Well, that’s what we paid for the last vehicle that was the same model; yours may be much nicer.” Then he will write down the second “hit-figure” and might say, “If yours is nicer, maybe we can go as high as $6,200.”

Because this is such a small increase, the customer will still be appalled. However, by changing the value by such a small amount, it gives some validity to the initial $6,000. Usually by this time, the customer will begin to believe that there will be no way that he will ever be able to make a deal and that his $10,000 offer is impossible. Some “stronger” salespeople will even present the customer with a third “hit-figure.” At this point, the salesperson has presented the customer with three low trade-in values and now he will ask the customer what he would like to get for the trade.

The customer will then respond by submitting his value or offer. The system works for the car dealers, because it provides a framework for the upcoming negotiations by diminishing the customer’s offer. In other words, when the customer says that he would like to receive $10,000 for his trade-in, he may now feel it is an unrealistic expectation.

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