The Commitment

The car salesperson’s main job is to get the customer committed to buy at any price.

Dealers realize that getting the customer committed to buy today is more than half the battle. Often there will be a trial commitment that must take place before the customer agrees to buy that day. This is used to verify that the customer has “landed” on the right car. For example, when the customer returns from the test-drive and is under the influence of “Ether,” the salesman may say, “If the numbers are agreeable, is this the vehicle you would like to own?” Notice that the salesman has taken the price out of the equation by asking, “If the numbers are agreeable...” This will limit the customer’s response to whether or not he likes the car. As long as the customer doesn’t say “No,” the salesperson has his first commitment.

If the customer objects to the car, then the salesman has to move to a different vehicle. Even when the customer replies to the salesman by saying, “Maybe,” or, “I’m not buying today,” that is still a sufficient commitment and the salesman can move to the next step.

Once the customer has committed to the car, then he must commit to buying the car at the right price. This is the main commitment. This main commitment is attempted during the “Write-Up” process, and it occurs right after the salesperson presents the customer with the typical cost of payment, down payment and price. This step is explained in detail in The Seven Steps of A Sale: The Close.

For example, the salesman might say, “Normally, with a typical down payment of five thousand dollars, your payment will be four hundred dollars per month.” Then the salesman will go through a series of carefully orchestrated adjustments on the payment, down-payment, and trade-in value to discover the customer’s offer.

Then the car salesman will attempt the “commitment”. For example, the salesperson might say, “So let me get this straight. If I was able to sell you the car and keep your payments where you requested them, with no money down, you would buy the car today...is that right?” If the customer says “Yes,” the salesman has received a successful commitment from him. If the customer says “No,” then the salesman has to go back and try to commit the customer by reducing the price and/or the payment. It’s the salesman’s job to isolate the objection and then reduce the price until the customer says “Yes.”

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous those prices are; the key to the sale is having a committed customer who agrees to buy that day. You may ask yourself: what is the purpose of getting a customer to agree on a ridiculously low price that most likely will not be enough to buy the car? The reason is that, even if the deal looks impossible, when the customer commits, he has converted himself from a “shopper” to a “buyer” and has developed mental ownership of the new car. Emotionally, this is when the customer buys the car, not during the price negotiations that follow. Once the salesman has this main commitment, all that remains to be done is to negotiate the price. If the customer is not prepared with accurate information, he will be at a huge disadvantage. Also, the more time that customers spend in the negotiation process, the more likely they are to make concessions on the price and payment. Many salespeople are skilled at dragging out the process and slowly wearing down the customer.

Keep in mind that some of the biggest commissions are made from customers who were “just looking.” However, they bought a car because the salesman created “ether” and committed them on an offer that seemed too good to be true.

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