If you walk onto a dealership lot, your first point of contact, even before the receptionist, may be a salesperson. There are plenty of capable and ethical car salespeople, but the profession continues to struggle with a stereotype that is, unfortunately, sometimes true. Shoppers often see themselves as being at odds with car salespeople: You want the lowest price possible; they want to make the most money on the car. Ultimately, though, both of you want you to leave the lot with the car that's right for you. It's good to keep that in mind.
The salesperson will show you the vehicle, arrange and usually go along on a test drive, and start the negotiation for purchase. In many cases, salespeople will also begin the financing process by taking information for a credit application. Knowledgeable salespeople are helpful in pointing out certain features on the car, but they shouldn't be your only source of information. Take full advantage of Edmunds model reviews and road tests so you have plenty of information before you arrive at the dealership.
The Internet Sales Manager
Let's say you're car shopping via your smartphone or computer. In that case, your first point of contact may be the dealership's internet sales manager. (It might also be the BCD rep, as noted earlier.) If you want to keep your shopping as simple as possible, we suggest you work with the internet sales manager. As the name implies, these are the people who are in charge of selling cars via the internet. They communicate with customers through phone calls, texts and email, but they also meet face to face with shoppers to arrange test drives and car delivery
. In our experience, working with the internet manager is key to getting the best deal with the least hassle.
When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership this way, you can usually arrange to have it delivered to your home. This is more convenient and helps you skip a visit to the finance and insurance office, where the finance and insurance staff sells additional products in what can sometimes be a high-pressure environment.
The Assistant Sales Manager (The Closer)
A step above the salesperson on the management ladder is the assistant sales manager. He (and most assistant sales managers continue to be men) usually steps in when it is time to talk numbers. It's his job to close the deal, hence the nickname. He's there to gain a firm purchase commitment from you and to ensure the dealership is getting the deal it wants. Although these folks have the term "manager" in their titles, they don't have ultimate power to decide the price.
When you make an offer on a car, the assistant sales manager usually takes it back to the sales manager in the "tower." That's the name for the sales manager's office, which looks out over the showroom floor. The assistant sales manager is a mediator, shuttling between the sales manager and the consumer. He tries to avoid looking like the "bad guy" since he's just relaying the message from the sales manager, a person you'll seldom see.
The Sales Manager
The sales manager is the person behind the curtain. When it comes to deciding how much a dealership wants to get for a car, most of the power rests with the sales manager. For many buyers, it can be frustrating not to deal with this person face to face. The only way to influence the sales manager is to remain firm in your negotiations with the salesperson and closer and not be afraid to walk away from a deal that is going in circles or taking way too long to conclude.