Lessons In Influence From The Time I Was “Owned” By A Used Car Salesman

by | Jan 23, 2019 | General Business

Sure enough, my wife and I had just fallen victim to a shady sales tactic commonly used to close car sales! Wow, how could we have been so blind to what was really going on?

Just like so many people every few years or so, we were in the market for a new (used) car. We looked around various car websites to find a few options, and then we hit the road to complete some test drives.

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The Start Of “Joe’s” Sales Game

When we got to the first dealership, we knew exactly which car we wanted to look at. We told the sales guy (let’s call our sales guy Joe) the vehicle we were talking about, and he started right into his sales game.

“We’ve had quite a few people call about that car already this morning, it sure seems popular.” We didn’t really think anything of that comment, but it was Joe’s subtle way to influence us through scarcity and urgency. Hey, this car wasn’t going to be around for long, so we better make a decision soon. There is no doubt that Joe was lying – come on, we were interested in a used Toyota at a Ford Dealership.

Oh well, we still proceeded to get in the car and go for a test drive. My wife and I really did like the car. We didn’t need to be sold on anything about it, it had the various features that we were looking for.

My Game Was No Match For “Joe’s” Game 

Let’s fast forward to when we got back to the dealership. We walked inside the building, and we went to Joe’s office. I always get uneasy about this. Like most people, the last thing I want to do is haggle over the price of the car.

Joe asked us what we thought about the car. We told him that we liked it, but we had another test drive scheduled at a dealership down the street. Joe knew that if he let us leave the building, we most likely would not be back. I thought we had all the leverage at this point. But, my game was no match for his.

He told us to think it over for a few minutes, and then he left the office. My wife and I talked about it. We really liked the car, but something just didn’t feel right about buying the first car we looked at. That scarcity and urgency tactic from earlier was looming large in our minds. If we left, would the car sell to someone else before we could come back? 

The Shady Close That I Couldn’t Resist 

About five minutes later, Joe came back into his office. Not more than 1-2 minutes after him, another sales guy came walking into the room. This is when the real shadiness of their game started…

“Hey Joe, I’ve got another couple out here interested in taking the Toyota for a test drive. Can you toss me the keys?” Joe tossed over the keys to this other sales guy, and the other sales guy walked away.

Joe told us not to worry though, “You were the first ones here, so if you want the car, you have first dibs.” This shifted the urgency tactic into overdrive. Now, we had to make a decision. If we left without buying the car, it for sure would be gone. After all, someone is there right now going for a test drive.

Joe left the office again because he knew all he needed to do was let us talk ourselves into it with this scarcity and urgency on our minds. And, he was right! Joe came back in a few minutes later, and we were ready to buy the car.

Was there someone else at the dealership interested in the same car at the same time? Absolutely not! Joe and the other sales guy had played us. And, we fell for it. 

What Would I Do If I Could Get A Mulligan? 

If I could replay that moment, I would have done two things differently:

  1. I would have walked out of the office to follow the other sales guy to confirm that he was not really taking anybody else for a test drive. I’m sure I would do this under the guise of going to the bathroom or something 🙂
  2. Then, if I was right that we were being played, I would have called out Joe for lying to us. Then, my wife and I would have left the dealership with our money still in hand.

Of course, I can’t replay it, but I can learn from my past experience. 

The Power Of Influence Is Strong  

Understanding the power of influence is so important! You can use influence in an ethical and mutually beneficial way to persuade others, and you can learn to protect yourself from the shady Joe’s of the world.

A book that I’ve read multiple times has helped me tremendously…

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert B. Cialdini

The book simplifies and explains the 6 Universal Principles of Influence:

  1. Reciprocity
  2. Consistency
  3. Social Proof
  4. Liking
  5. Authority
  6. Scarcity

I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy.

Every single day we are influencing others or being influenced. Both inside and outside of our businesses. This includes our children, spouse, employees, co-workers, salespeople, and so on. Having an understanding of the factors that impact this influence will greatly improve your awareness.

You can also get the audio book on Audible if you don’t have time to read the hard copy. I rarely read hard copy books these days, and instead, I’ve become more of an audio book kind of person.

Enjoy the book—I know you will! 

Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing. When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.

Ryan Glick

Co-Founder, Pixelayn Innovations

Ryan has been heavily involved in the world of Information Technology and entrepreneurship since the early 2000s. From small business consulting to Fortune 500 IT leadership, Ryan has a wide array of industry knowledge. He earned his BBA from the University of Iowa in 2004 majoring in Management Information Systems and later earned his MBA from the University of Iowa in 2009 with a focus on Management and Marketing. When he's not spending time with his wife and three young children, you'll find Ryan pounding away at his keyboard, spinning on his Peloton, or listening to a good audiobook or podcast.

Connect with Ryan on Twitter or Instagram.

Ryan Glick

Co-Founder, Pixelayn Innovations