When customers buy cars, they always say “You know…I wasn’t planning on buying a today…I just came to look!”
You may ask yourself how normally careful people can make a major purchasing decision in just a few hours. The answer is “Ether.” Salespeople recognize that the excitement of owning a new car can influence the customer’s buying decision. If a customer is “in the ether,” he is more likely to spend money without considering his budget carefully. For a salesman, “ether” will enable a fast buying decision and maximize his commissions.
Of course, just the idea of owning a new car can create ether. However, salesmen can use visualizations to increase the dosage. These visualizations encourage the customer to take mental ownership of a new car. The best way for a salesman to provoke “mental ownership” is to insert the new car into the customer’s world. One trick that salesmen may use during the test-drive is to have the customer drive the car home to see if it will fit in his garage. When the customer parks the new car in his driveway, he may develop a mental image of ownership. Believe it or not, this can motivate the customer into a buying decision. For a car salesman, when the new car is in the driveway on the test-drive, the only thing that could be better is to have a neighbor walk by.
All of these sales methods aside, the car itself generates the “ether.” If it is the right vehicle for the customer, the car will produce the excitement during the test-drive. Car dealers have always relied on “ether” to sell cars and they teach their salesmen to exploit its benefits. However, they also realize that it does not last. Salespeople know that the excitement will soon start to dissipate. This requires that they begin the price negotiations quickly to increase their odds for a sale. This is why the negotiations always take place after the test-drive. Without excitement, the customer’s decision will be based almost entirely on the price of the car and the dealer’s chances for a large profit will diminish.
As you can see, car salesmen follow specific steps in the hope that their methods will provoke certain reactions in the customer. The test-drive step is needed for the customer to select a car, but more importantly, it is used to generate excitement and make the next step (price negotiation) easier. Understanding these steps and the psychology behind them is critical in negotiating your best deal. You can find all of these steps and methods in our Seven Steps to a Sale article.