Engaging Effectively with a Car Salesperson – 15 Top Tips

When buying a new or pre-owned car from a UK dealership most of us don’t know how best to engage with a car salesperson in order secure the best possible deal. This article contains 15 simple but important tips to help you get the car you want … at the price you want.

  1. Whether you’re buying a new or pre-owned car, it’s important to do some research. Once you’ve decided on the type of car you want, find out how much a similar car is selling for then set the maximum price you’re prepared to pay and try to stick to it. Also, find out what the What Car? Target Price is – this is the maximum price payable for the car.
  2. Start low in your negotiations. Begin with an offer at the low end of your price range and then haggle with the sales person until you reach a price you’re both happy with.
  3. If you’re buying a new car from a dealership remember that their sales targets are set on a monthly basis and your car sale could affect their target. So plan your visit near the end of the month because this way you should be able to negotiate a bigger discount, either in the form of a lower price, or by the addition of free optional extras.
  4. Shop around. Visit a number of different dealers to see which one will offer you the best price. Ask them for a quote in writing – you can then take this to another dealership and see if they’re prepared to better the price.

  5. Car Sales Person

  6. Remember you’re there to buy a car not make friends. Adopt a professional approach and don’t let your emotions show. But don’t play it too cool – make sure the dealership knows you’re not just browsing or else they won’t try very hard. Don’t appear too keen to make a purchase. Make it clear right from the start that you’re a serious buyer, but only at the right price.
  7. Be friendly and approachable but not standoffish. Sales people try to build a rapport with their customers because then they’re more likely to buy. This approach works both ways – get the salesperson on your side and your chances of negotiating a bigger discount will improve.
  8. Do not pay more for the car than you have to and don’t be afraid to walk out of the dealership if the deal isn’t working for you – there are plenty of other cars and deals around.
  9. Be wary of the ‘bargain’ offers advertised in the showroom. If one of them grabs your attention, ask the salesperson as many questions as it takes to find out how good the offer really is.
  10. Get to know the make and model, engine capacity and the overall specification of the car you want to buy before you start negotiating. Take a few different models out on the road for a test drive before deciding which is best for you. Once you’ve decided on your ideal car, browse the manufacturer’s website to see if they’re offering any good deals.
  11. If the deal isn’t working for you, thank them for their time and just walk away to the next dealership you have on your list. Often they’ll have a sudden change of heart and come up a better discount or offer.
  12. Be polite but firm and don’t let a sales person talk you into buying a lower spec version of the car model you want. Negotiate strongly for the model and spec you want at a lower price. Also, never let dealers know if you’re a cash buyer. They make money on their own vehicle hire purchase (HP) and personal contract purchase (PCP) agreements. If they think you’ll choose their finance options, you’ll be able to negotiate a better deal. Once you have a deal in place, you can always decline their finance options.
  13. Take your time. If a salesperson thinks you’re in a hurry he’ll assume you’re not a serious buyer and won’t offer you any meaningful discounts.
  14. Before starting negotiations get the salesperson to print out a detailed quotation. Some dealerships load their opening offer price with extras like floor mats and extended warranties. When you start negotiating they’ll reduce the price by cutting back on these extras, which didn’t want to in the first place. Dealers are required to disclose what extras are included, so get a breakdown before you start negotiating.
  15. If the salesperson won’t reduce the price, ask for optional extras to be included for free. These could include an extended warranty, a built-in sat-nav system, car insurance or breakdown cover.
  16. If you’re asked how much per month you want to spend, don’t give them a figure. Tell them it doesn’t really matter because you may arrange finance, or write out a cheque, or pay in cash. The first thing to do is agree the out-the-door price of the car. Then ask for their financing quote, but have your own options in place in case the dealer’s figure proves too expensive.

So there you go … fifteen helpful tips to ensure you get the best possible car deal. Good luck!

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