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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Read in loud-abrasive-car-sales-commercial Voice: Are you in need of a new car? Well, if you are: let the Car NegotiaTORS assist you! With skill beyond imagination, these two will wear down even the most skilled of Car Salesmen!

That’d be us. Yep, now allow me to brag about our Car Negotiation Skills (CNS) that were put into play a few weeks ago when purchasing our minivan. First of all, we had to plan the first attack with all the right accoutrements: Token Cute Children (check – didn’t even have to rent ‘em; we supplied our own), Short Window of Time close to Closing Time (check), Seemingly Undecided on Whether or Not We Really Want To Buy (check – we TOTALLY knew we were buying), Token Cute Children that eventually turn into Cranky Children (check – cranky children can unnerve anyone), Perfectly Played Emotions to Tug on Salesman’s Heartstrings (check).

We first went to the dealership after church and lunch on Sunday afternoon. I had spent days compiling lists of newishly-used available Toyota Sienna’s and Kia Sedona’s, so we knew exactly what ‘merchandise’ each dealership had. We bought our ’98 Honda CRV (that we still have and love) at Renton Honda & Kia, so we thought we’d go there again.

After test-driving both cars – an ’08 Toyota Sienna and the ’09 Kia Sedona, we decided on the Kia. (Despite the fact that the Toyota was a beautiful dark blue that Matthew and I both voted for; our Kia is red and still very sassy and beautiful). We told the salesmen that we would need to leave at 3:30 since Matthew had his ‘Faith Formation’ class back at church. Yes, we are a church-going people. This should help in our proof that we are a good people who need a minivan that we can fill with Catholic babies…or something.

As soon as we said, we needed to leave (and the boys began to act perfectly cranky on cue), the salesdudes turned on their defenses. “Well, gosh, we’d love for you to be able to drive away with your new van today, let me just go check with the manager, actually I’ll have him come talk to you; we’ll see what we can do for you.”

Cue the jolly manager who likes to say things like, “I can see that you’re a family with good taste and that you’ve done your research. I also hear that you’ve got a bit of a time-crunch right now, so FOR YOU ONLY, I’m WILLING to make quite the deal. I NEVER do this, but I’d be willing to knock off a couple thousand and sell this BEAUTIFUL family minivan to you for the WHOLESALE price. I NEVER do that, but boy, I sure like you guys and….” Blahblahblah.

We act as thought, for a moment, we’re considering it, and then say, “Gee, thanks, but we’re just not buying today. We’ve got to go. We’ll be back tomorrow.” And we make a sudden exit.

The salesmen egos pop and rapidly deflate before our eyes. When we DO return the next day – as promised – we are greeted with huge grins and hearty handshakes.

“What?” I ask innocently. “You didn’t believe us? You didn’t think we’d come back?”

Both Salesman and Manager inform us that of the people that promise to return, statistically only 2% actually do. That’s right. Now we’ve proven ourselves a bit. We’re a good, kind, honest people. And then. Oh, right when they think, this will be an easy-sell to these nice, honest, Churchly-people; we unleash the madness – our mad Negotiating Skills, that is. For THREE HOURS we go back and forth with these guys. It’s a game of car-sale-negotiating tennis – an evenly matched, well-played, nail-biting battle.

One would think when watching us that Mike and I must be using some sort of baseball base coach cues, the way we so seamlessly trade from bad cop (negotiator) to good cop (negotiator). But our negotiating technique goes without words, without a need to communicate. We are a well-oiled machine; we are a car salesman’s worst nightmare. Mike and I teeter-totter back and forth playing with their emotions. At one point, I act ready to sign while Mike argues a bit more. Then, when Mike seems satisfied, I suddenly have doubts forcing them to drop the price yet again.

We’ve worn them down, the manager has said a few times, “Look, I’m sorry, but this is the best I can do. I’m already not making any money on this sale since we dropped it down to wholesale yesterday.” We argue a few other small points, and then he says, “Well, ya know, we’re just arguing about $100 now. Are we really just arguing about a little bit of money now?”

This is when I whip out the waterworks, with eyes welling up, just enough, I say, “Well, it’s not just a little bit of money to us. We’re adopting a child. That’s an expensive thing. We need every little bit of money we can get.” He quickly back pedals after my saying that he’s basically keeping us from supplying an orphan with a loving home. He throws in two free full tanks of gas and finally, FINALLY we – happily change back into ourselves – and shake on it. Afterwards, as we delve into the paperwork, our salesman, Tony, compliments us on our tough fight. With a grin, he shakes his head as he hands us the keys. Well played. Well played.

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