I, a self-proclaimed salesman, just got one-call closed by sales rep Mr. T at a Honda dealership just outside Philadelphia. I went in to look around and Mr. T, whom I’ve never met, persuaded me to buy a 2016 Certified Pre-owned Honda CR-V with 36 miles on it. He made me buy strictly on emotions, I didn’t have the money, and I felt swindled. I realized I never want to buy from a salesman like myself. Especially a slimy salesman. Look below, I’m so embarrassed I took this picture with my eyes closed.
Just kidding. Really. In actual fact, this was one of the most exciting buying and negotiating experiences I’ve had. Also, Mr. T was great. A fantastic salesperson. I recommend him to anyone. Trustworthy, a family man, and brilliant.
Also, I really did consider buying prior to walking onto the lot this past Saturday. I absolutely loved being sold to and documented the whole experience. I actually snarkily said to my girlfriend at the end of lunch immediately prior, “well, after lunch, should we swing by the Honda dealership and grab a car real quick on our way home?” It was educational, exciting, and I couldn’t have imagined a better ending.
And yes, I was one-call closed. Although I was (happily) one-call closed, I must say, I did work in some of my own negotiating savvy when it was time to get serious and sign. While I told my salesman I was planning to buy that day, which, was my weakness from a negotiation perspective, the point of this story is I was able to work in a bit extra when it was time to make a decision …
After an hour and half of choosing years, colors, and going for a test drive, it was time to walk inside and talk prices. At this point, I want to buy, but I could easily walk away. It all depends on what’s on the table. I have a range of what I want to pay and can afford per month. We go over everything.
Mr. T gave me “his most aggressive price” on this vehicle I wanted. I hadn’t even tried to ask for any lowest price, best deal, or anything else. It was very easy for him until just before we shook hands. We went to shake on it and I said, “You know, can I phone a friend?” He said feel free. So I ,called a 5 year car sales vet – RPMC’s own, Karol Brehany. We had a great chat. We benched-marketed comparable prices, researched the vehicle, he asked me great questions, and found out I was pretty close to the best deal we could find, give or take a little based on the fact I did want to buy that day. This being said, Mr. T did come out several times during my conversation to check on me. I wasn’t sure if he was feeling nervous, but by the end, he asked if he should have the car out to get cleaned since it was the end of the day. Good question. I said yes.
After our conversation, I felt good, and decided I was fine with the price. But I thought there may be something else I can win for my time, money, and interest in a Honda that day. What can I really get here? Also, after having a vested interest in the topic of negotiating, I had to practice what I preach to my staff all the time. I came back after speaking with Karol and said to Mr. T, “well, after chatting with my friend, I was wondering, can you do any better on that aggressive price you mentioned? It appears there may be a better deal elsewhere.”
He said, “well, hmm, this CRV did just get here, and it’s this and that and etc…” this is where the negotiating really started. The whole time I stared him right in the eye. I poker faced and got serious.
He kept talking, and when he recognized my stare he immediately stopped and said, “let me go check if I can do anything better.” I hadn’t even said anything else.
He came back from wherever and said he couldn’t do anything on price. However, he was able to give me my first service on the car free. Interesting.
I said, “thank you so much, that’s very generous. However, you’re about to one-call close me. I am totally fine walking out of here, and am actually feeling I might. Based on my conversation with my friend, it sounds like I could get a better deal. Money is always an issue. I’m feeling a bit nervous about this decision. What can you really do that’s best for both of us- as I know this deal will be good for you too?”
After a pause he said, “okay, listen. I talked to my manager. Here’s what I can do- He said I can give you an extra $XXX off the top, plus your second service free. But that’s it.”
“Wow, okay, that’s great. Thank you…. Now, before I sign, I saw something about a free $XX Target gift card for stopping by. Can I get that too?”
“Sure,” he said.
“Cool. Hmmm, can I also be entered into the $5k raffle I saw?” I replied.
“Yes.” He continued. At this point, I’m thinking, what won’t he give me.
“Two Target gift cards?” I couldn’t stop. I had to keep going.
“Tell you what, Ryan, I’ll do one better. I’ll give you $XXX off your new car, your first 2 services free, 2 Target gift cards, and a $XX birddog check to your friend for helping out.”
“Wow!” I was thinking, what just happened. This is amazing. Is there anything else?
I pushed. “Thank you, but can you add a third Target gift card?”
“I don’t think so. I’d have to ask my boss. It’s getting late, and it’s Memorial Day weekend. Please. Do we have a deal?”
“Haha, Yes.” We shook on it. I went back and signed the paperwork with the business manager. Everything was going well but honestly, forget the damn $XXXXX car purchase, I couldn’t get over that extra gift card. I knew everyone at the dealership was winning with my purchase – especially because I walked in 2 hrs prior unannounced with no previous contact. Again, I had already decided I was fine with the purchase. Why not ask for more? Who needs each other more? Do they really need me, or do I really need them? What is the exact win-win here? I had to figure out a way to get more after this 5 figure purchase and doing them such a big favor.
After I left the business manager’s office, I had to see if there was anything else. Why? Because the car has nothing to do with anything at this point. This is simply about establishing value, meeting interests, getting to “yes,” and winning referrals.
As Mr T. greeted me on the way out and congratulated me on the purchase, I couldn’t help myself. I gregariously said- “Thank you, Mr. T, but I have to say, I think the cherry on top would be that 3rd gift card. Is there absolutely anything you could do? I just bought this car and met you two hrs ago.”
Without saying a thing, he turns around, walks into his office, and brings out a 3rd Target gift card. “Congrats, Ryan, I really think you are going to love this CR-V. It’s a great car. Here is my card and cell phone. Let’s catch up next week.”
The moral of this story is twofold. If you know how to buy, salesmen are your favorite people in the world. Just because a salesman is trying to get the most from you, doesn’t make him slimy. It’s his job to build value into any price, not always price cut. His job is to make sure you see the value in your purchase and you won’t regret it in the end. The slimy salesperson lies about product facts, features, and doesn’t follow through.
It’s the salesman’s job to get the highest price, all other things being equal. In this CRV situation, I probably gave up a few hundred or even a thousand dollars from the price because I didn’t walk away and look around. Based on my personal situation though, I didn’t have time for that. The money I would have saved was not worth the time I need to put elsewhere as I grow my business. The value for me was being able to find a reliable car quickly from someone I trust, at a good enough price that I won’t regret paying.
The final point here is there is always room to negotiate, always. Negotiation is a skill less developed by many and is a topic rarely talked about in schools. In fact, I’ve only heard of one school that has a class on negotiating, and it was a graduate level course nonetheless! Negotiating is done every day by every person, whether they realize it or not. Sales and negotiating go hand in hand, regardless of what side of the pen you are on. Whether you are selling someone on why you should sign or encouraging someone to sign, working towards best interests is the goal for everyone.
At RPMC, we are incessantly trying to adapt the sales conversation that connects humans to products and services in the 21st century. The conversation has changed, and so have people. There has to be trust before anything, as a past era has jaded most. The sales position is looked at as a disgrace, a bottom of the barrel option for most. We believe the salesperson should be respected just as much as the buyer, as both are necessary. We just have to make sure salespeople, as leaders, are sending the right message, meeting people where they are first before moving a business relationship forward.
Ryan P, Owner, RPMC