The preconceived stereotype of a sleazy car salesman falls apart when dedication to service and professionalism shines through.

Car dealers have always battled against negative stereotypes. These perceptions stem from the shortcomings of the traditional car buying experience: negotiating prices, pressure strategies, dealing with pushy sales reps, etc. The auto industry, as a whole, has changed with the influence of digital technology, but the image of the sleazy car salesman often remains. So how do sales professionals break the spell and gain the trust they deserve?

It’s simple… dedication to professionalism and quality customer service is the best way. Salespeople who demonstrate a genuine desire to deliver positive buyer experiences will conquer and overcome preconceived notions. In this post, we’ve put together a list of behaviors that fall into the sleazy car salesman “persona” and provided solutions for professionals, like you, to use.

The blunders of a sleazy car salesman

1. Focusing on the sale, not on the customer.

Customers often expect to be pressured into buying. Their guards are up, and they are on the alert for salespeople who want to close the deal as soon as possible. Although many people know what they want before arriving at a dealership (most of the buying process happens online today), it’s possible they’ll need time to consider options.

Problem: Believing that every customer who leaves without a car may never come back, the sleazy car salesman tries his best to make a deal on the spot, in turn pushing the customer away.

Solution: Take the focus off the sale and get to know your customer. People want to buy from people they trust. If the customer is considering options and requesting quotes from various dealerships, make quality service your biggest selling point. When it’s clear they’re not ready to buy, focus on setting another appointment to take another test drive, instead.

2. Controlling the conversation process.

Customers believe they have unique needs. They want to deal with a professional who can understand those needs, and then figure out a way to meet them.

Problem: The sleazy car salesman believes he knows what the customer wants better than the customer does. From the first correspondence to the last meeting, he tells the customer what to do, why to buy, and where to sign the papers.

Solution: Let your customers make the decisions. Guide them towards purchases that suit their needs and fill the role of a trusted advisor. Some may need more direction than others, but generally, the customer like to feel in control.

3. Making promises and not delivering.

When it comes to financing, customers want to receive a good deal. Depending on credit history, income, assets, and bank statements, better options can be made available. Other times, it’s not possible to meet their budgetary requirements.

Problem: Instead of being upfront, the sleazy car salesman tells his customers exactly what they want to hear, regardless of what’s possible. The only thing that matters is getting a signature on the dotted line.

Solution: Be transparent. Honesty is the best policy for every relationship, especially in business. If a customer’s budget or credit history is problematic, work with them to find solutions and new options. At the end of the day, if you still can’t work out a deal, refer them to another dealership. Quality service will come back in referrals down the road.

4. Downplaying the cons, exaggerating the pros.

Buying a car is an important decision for consumers. They usually have a list of criteria to be considered for the purchase. For instance, a mother with young children will want the best safety features. Once she communicates her needs, she doesn’t want those needs to get in the way of weighing the pros and cons.

Problem: Once the sleazy car salesman finds a car that meets the specified needs of a customer, he downplays the blemishes and focuses on the benefits. He doesn’t mention that three different people have owned the car, or the true mileage is unknown.

Solution: Work to find a vehicle that meets their needs, but give the customer a full-view of the purchase. As mentioned earlier, transparency is key to developing trust. If you can communicate issues clearly and provide options to fix them, you’ll have a happier customer.


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