Selling on Fear

My latest car purchase experience was a business lesson.

I had the pleasure of buying a new truck this week. Well, new to me. Going into the negotiation I felt nervous before we even sat down to talk money. Why is it that I, a customer, would go to a dealership with the intent to buy something and leave with a huge amount of buyers remorse and doubt?

I have to say that I've never left a car dealership without feeling like I was taken.

If you don't move now, it will be gone later today

I had found the truck that I wanted. It had all the features that I wanted, was in good shape, the right color, and had just a few more miles than I wanted but still acceptable. This is an impulse play, designed to make me bite quickly on the price without doing more research. I almost bit immediately, but I did the right thing and left for a few hours to gather my thoughts on the price, mileage, and compare.

You're trade has no market, so just take the offer

The first offer for my trade was $2500 below the Kelly Blue Book suggested trade in value. Talk about a slap in the face. I was told that unfortunately trucks like mine were not selling at auction so they could not pay the suggested value for it. Again, I played it cool and just told him what I wanted for my truck based on its condition and mileage.

You want a truck with that many miles and no extended warranty?

I just finished with the salesman and was told how he sees trucks come in on trade all the time with 150k+ miles on them with no issues. He assured me that surely my new truck could run that far. Then, I went into the business office to be told that he would never buy a truck with that many miles on it. He proceeded to tell me that I simply must buy his $3800 warranty. I understand the extended warranty pitch, but he was legitimately angry that I declined.

I felt like I had made a good deal. I was able to get the price I wanted for my trade, the price I wanted on the new truck, and even made it out without the extended warranty. However, I left with a lump in my stomach that I had been tricked. I have a lingering feeling that the truck will break down and cost me every bit of the $3800 warranty that I passed on.

Worst of all, the dealership did not earn a customer for life. They earned a customer who needed a truck that they had. I feel no obligation to return for my next truck, tires, or even an oil change. I despise selling on fear. If you are buying something because someone is telling you that you cannot do with out it, you can do without it.


Fear does sell, but it does not build loyalty.

Selling on Fear
Kyle Robinson January 23, 2012
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