Be Backs

“I will be back” are four words that salespeople hate to hear.

When a customer says, “I will be back,” the salesman hears, “Thanks for your time and information, but I will probably buy a car somewhere else.”

When customers are feeling pressured to buy a car, it is not because salespeople are sharks or vultures; it is because they know that when a customer leaves, he is unlikely to return. The odds are so low that salesmen refer to waiting for the customers to return as being as futile as waiting for a magical “Be-Back-Bus.”

bebackbus12Keep in mind that almost all dealerships pay their salesmen entirely on commission. This means that the time the salesperson spends with a customer will either result in a commission or it will be a complete loss. This does not mean that a customer should only talk to a salesman if he is prepared to buy a car. However, it is helpful to be aware of the salesman’s mindset. Actually, most customers believe that they will return. Because buying a car can be an emotionally charged decision, once the “Ether” is separated from the process, customers will rarely go back to the same dealership before shopping around. The first salesperson whom the customer meets may be the reason that he buys the car. The salesman may have answered all of the customer’s questions and gotten him excited about the vehicle. However, when the customer “shops around,” the next salesperson that the customer encounters will probably sell him a car. That salesperson can begin where the previous salesperson left off and usually all they will have to do is close the deal. Also, customers can get tired of driving around from dealer to dealer, and after awhile, they just want to end the shopping process and buy. From the salesman’s point of view, it is better to be the second or third salesperson that the customer meets.

The Bubble

A trick that salesmen can use to get their customers to come back is to put them on a “bubble.” This is usually done when the customer is preparing to leave. A “bubble” refers to the way in which the salesman creates a motivating reason to get the customer to return. Most of the time, it is a less than truthful disclosure about price or payment. For example, if the customer has been looking at a car that costs approximately $400 per month, the salesman will “put the customer on a bubble” by saying, “Before you spend $200 a month, come back and see me.” Once the customer is on a “bubble,” he will float around from dealer to dealer, unable to get a $200 payment. Eventually, he will return to the original salesman and attempt to get the $200 payment. Although the salesman won’t be able to meet that payment, at least he will have another opportunity to sell a car.

Salesmen will also use this method on a “Phone-Pop.” Over the phone, they will quote a price they know a competitive dealer will not be able to match. Most dealerships will instruct their salesmen to say whatever it takes to get the customer to come to the dealership. This is why it is rarely effective to call around from dealer to dealer and try to establish the best price.


Another reason salesmen hate hearing, “I will be back” is that they run the risk that if the customer does actually return, he may not ask for the salesman when he arrives. In most dealerships, if the customer doesn’t ask for the same salesperson, he will not be eligible for any part of the commission. Even worse, because of the competitive nature of some sales departments, a different salesperson may “Kink” the first out of a deal, which means that a colleague may sell a car to another salesman’s customer when he returns rather than referring the customer back to the original salesman. With all of these potential pitfalls, customers may begin to see why salesmen act the way they do. When you say, “I will be back,” realize that the salesman does not believe he will ever see you again.

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