Mike Stevens | Nov 6, 2008

When I thought about this month’s article, I was talking with mum and thinking of my own experiences (mostly negative unfortunately) in dealing with car salespeople when I bought my car just over a year ago.

Actually, it was mum who said, “Come on, you need a new car. I don’t want to have to worry about you every time you drive that thing.”

At our first stop, it took the salesman more than 15 minutes to come over and even say “hello”. Now, I know a persistent salesperson in any industry, whether it be cars, clothes or the sales girl at ‘Guess’ (while browsing their new shoe collection when I should have been walking back to the office). They can be annoying coming straight up to you, and getting in your personal space trying to push the sell. But at least you expect them to come and say, “G’day, how are you?”

Not only did this one look quite disinterested, but when I asked the questions, “What kind of engine is it? What is the fuel consumption like?” the answer was “Good”. How does that answer my question?

However, it was a different story when dad came with me. He’d tagged along, simply for moral support when I went to actually buy the car, and to my amazement my questions were answered.

When I got to thinking about this, it posed the questions: Does the presence of a man make such a difference when buying a car? And if so, why?

On my hunt for answers, and thinking about my experiences a year earlier, I stopped in on three different car dealerships to get their thoughts; one in new cars, another used cars and the third luxury sport cars. Two out of the three were very helpful and willing to talk; one, I was directed to go through marketing, and we all know how long that would take.

At my first destination, after looking at a few cars on the lot outside for less than five minutes, I saw the silhouette of a man inside the dealership half-running, half-skipping to the door. He opened the door, slowed down to a stop about 20 metres in front of me and greeted me with a bow. I must admit I was slightly taken aback, but then saw the cheeky grin sweep across his face as I stepped over to him.

Very willing to answer some questions, we went inside, I got my recorder out and started with the questions.

“With your experience being a car sales person and knowing others, do you think car sales people treat women differently when buying a car?” I asked him.

His answer: “Not if they’re any good.”

Talking about his own dealership and the many and varied types of people that he and his team come into contact with, he said they had no choice but to treat everyone equally. Listening to him made me feel as though I had been gypped by the car sales people I had dealt with till then.

car-sales-quote

My second stop was just as positive with the salesman opening with a joke… something to do with horses. Anyway, again very willing to answer questions, his reply to the same first question was;

“Yes. Yes, we do treat women differently. And do you want to know why? Women are the decision makers in the family. I’m married, I know the deal. My wife makes all the decisions. When a wife and a husband and kids walk in, we sell to the wife, not the husband. And we’ve learnt over time that if we don’t treat the lady well, we lose that business.”

Something else I wanted to know was whether car sales people altered the information they gave to men compared to women.

Both sales guys were again very similar in their answers. Both said that you needed to talk to the person and respond to them, not what they are as male or female.

After grilling both of them about how they work, I asked if they had any tips for women buying a car. Here’s what they had to say.

Tip #1 – Don’t be shy. Not everyone walks into a dealership knowing exactly what they want. Go in open and willing to take on any, and all, advice given. Tell the sales person what you’re looking for, something small or something big, something fast or something economical… and then go from there.

Tip #2 – Set your budget. Know exactly what you have to spend and be confident in it.

Tip #3 – Don’t be a bare-faced liar. Plain and simple, if you are not actually out buying a car – just looking – be upfront about it. No-one likes to have their time wasted.

And if you are looking for something for your ‘aunt/uncle/brother/sister/friend’, also be upfront. Walk in and say this is what he/she wants, this is the budget, what can you recommend that I can suggest to him? This way the salesperson knows exactly what is going on and won’t push the sell on you as much as if you were buying the car.

And if you are the buyer, also be upfront. Being forthright works.

Tip #4 – Dress appropriately. Even when people say they don’t, everyone makes assumptions about your dress (and judges the book by its cover). When going to look at car, dress the part. Dress appropriately and you will get shown the respect of being looked in the eye and not the chest when speaking to a salesman.

Tip #5 – Do your research. Shop around, talk to people and look on the internet for cars. Dealer websites give you a great idea of the car so you can make a short list and go and see them in the metal. Going in with some knowledge will go along way toward making the final decision the right decision.

Until next time darlings…

Stefani M Jelić

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