Combat the Closing Techniques - The Power Of Suggestions

Combating the Closing Techniques is a new series at Eliminate the Muda! This series explores the tactics companies and salespeople use to separate us from our cash. For background, you may want to read the post that originated this concept, Marketing or Manipulation, featured on Financial Samurai.

The Car Spy

Jimmy was driving down the road in his new convertible, happy as could be, the wind blowing though his hair. He was among the first in town to drive a new iSport. What a sweet car this was with 18-inch chrome wheels and a sexy pinstripe down the side.

He had just turned off the highway on his way home as he began to consider how excited his wife was going to be when she saw the converti…. ooops! Wait just a minute, how is his wife going to feel about this new car?

When he left for the dealership he had assured his wife he wasn’t actually going to pull the trigger on the purchase. Suddenly Jimmy was trying to figure out how a quick trip to just look at wagons ended up with him behind the wheel of a totally impractical red sports car.

This article was featured in the Carnival of Personal Finance hosted by CreditCards.com. Please check out this carnival for many other great articles about personal finance.


Enter The Power Of Suggestion

Unfortunately, this morning Jimmy did not take the time to consider the fact that he was entering the enemy’s territory and prepare a strategy. We all know that home field always has the advantage.

When the conversation began with the salesman it was innocent enough. Jimmy quickly complied with requests for name, rank and serial number. This easy compliance was a signal to the salesman that Jimmy was open to suggestion and ready to be played like a Stradivarius.

Johnny, the salesman, made a point of asking several questions to get an idea of what Jimmy’s values and desires are. Johnny learned that Jimmy is a white collar employee working hard to get noticed and move up the corporate ladder. He also inquired about Jimmy’s past vehicles and learned that most were mid-sized sport cars and coupes, and always silver.

In the course of the conversation Johnny found opportunities to comment to Jimmy that “being young and professional, Jimmy, you have picked the right brand. Your colleagues will be impressed when you arrive at the office in your new ride.”

As the conversation continued, Johnny made several other comments like “successful people drive successful cars”, “smart money buys smart cars, the cars with high resell values” and “all the executives I sell cars to want two-door coupes and convertibles.”

The Suggestions Have Been Planted

Eventually came time to go out and look at the cars on the lot beginning with the wagons. Johnny wants to give Jimmy lots of time for the suggestions to sink in. They look at the wagons for awhile before Johnny steers Jimmy over to the trucks and SUV’s. Johnny knows that Jimmy doesn’t want these but he does want Jimmy’s mind off of the low profit wagons. Once they spend a few minutes with the trucks Johnny steers Jimmy over to the newly introduced, high margin iSport model.

Jimmy, we know already, has an affinity for sports cars. His eyes open up with dreams of the old days when he was single and the joy of driving a car with a tight suspension and good handling.

Johnny seizes the opportunity and goes in for the kill sell, among the statements he makes he includes:

  • “Jimmy, this is the newest car on the market and it is H-O-T hot, you said you wanted a car that reflects success and this one is it!”
  • “When you pull this new car into the parking lot at the office, you know everyone will be so impressed.”
  • “Jimmy, you wanted to make a smart purchase. You are right, these automobiles have the highest resell value on the market today”
  • “This car is it, all the executives are lining up to buy this car.”
  • “The convertible is the most prized of them all, just imagine how envious your coworkers and neighbors will be when you drive up in your new iSport. You will be the talk of the town. “

The last statement seals the deal, “Jimmy today is your lucky day, there are very few of these available but just before you walked in I learned we obtained one extra unit from the factory, a silver iSport convertible.

Fighting Back

To prevent falling for the Power of Suggestion Close the best defense is a good offense. You must walk in with the understanding that you are competing with a salesman. With this technique knowledge provides the power.

In the early stages of the sales process many salespeople are trained to get key information to “qualify” you as a legitimate customer. It is a desired process but it is not a law. They don’t need any personal information to provide you with the features, benefits and pricing of any product.

What you want to hear from a salesperson is factual information. What is the cut, color, clarity and karat weight of the diamond; how long will the aluminum siding last or what does the warranty cover.

What you don’t want to hear is how good you will look or feel with their product or how the perceptions of your neighbors or co-workers will improve your life. If this is what you get, you are being set up.

Use The Power Of Suggestion To Your Advantage

Inform the salesperson how their time will be rewarded if you are treated fairly and your needs are met. Let the salesperson know early that when you are taken care of you become a loyal customer. Advise them that you like providing referrals when you know that your friends will get competitive pricing.

After you have negotiated everything you can, unleash the power of suggestion. Tell them; “This is a really good deal and I am tempted but this doesn’t quite meet my needs, can you shave 2% off or give me _______?” Express your willingness to commit to a long-term relationship if they can show you how committed they are. Show the salesperson your phone list of hundreds of friends and suggest how much more business they may get.

Readers: Have you ever arrived home with a purchase you never intended on making? Where else in life could you use the Power of Suggestion technique to your advantage?

For more, read: Combat the Closing Technique – The Puppy Dog Close

If you like to be challenged to see things with a fresh perspective, if you like to learn new ideas and different concepts, sign up for my RSS feed or enter your email address here to receive updates directly to your in-box.

photo by The Car Spy

15 comments to Combat the Closing Techniques – The Power Of Suggestions

  • I’ve never been pressured in a sale that I didn’t want to make! I attribute part of the ability to avoid their “jedi mind tricks” (like you will look good in this car, you want to buy it) because I’ve been around people that 1.) were salespeople, and 2.) were to smart and resisted the sales tactics.

    When you have good adult parents/mentors as a child, some of it naturally rubs off ๐Ÿ™‚

    Great article, people should take this to heart! This will prevent them from driving a red/silver HOT convertible home ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’d also like to add this little nugget!
    Take a good frugal friend like me with you when you go looking! Then, off to the side (and alone), ask for our opinion. Also ask which vehicle we would purchase of the various choices. I’ve save a few friends from buying sports cars that they didn’t need this way before. Later, my friends thank me (most of the time ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
    .-= Don@MoneyReasons.com´s last blog ..Wealth Tip #4: Invest Money Saved on Food and Other Products =-.

  • Just want to be the first to comment! Saw this article and thought how nicely it tied into my recent post – too bad you beat me to the punch (thanks for the comment, I’ll reply later).

    I’ll give this a thorough read later today and leave something insightful.

    Congrats on the nomination – I voted for ya!
    .-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Maximizing Value, The Opposite of Earn More Spend Less =-.

  • Well stated. Salesmen are well trained to key into what will make a person say “yes.” I haven’t car shopped in a while, but the last time I did, I did my research online first. I went with a print out of what I wanted and got pretty close to that. However, your article would have helped me negotiate a better price! I’m still not very good at that.
    .-= Little House´s last blog ..How to Find the Best Place =-.

  • First, two editorial notes:
    Under Fighting Back – “best defense is an offense”
    Under Use the Power – “their time will be rewarded”

    I like how you’ve highlighted the point that feelings are masqueraded as facts. It would be an interesting study to poll retirees and find out if, and how, banking/investment advertisements affected their decisions on which establishments they decided on.

    Also enjoyed, the “commit now, pull out later”ย bit. I’ve been using this technique more often to get the deals I want. What you end up doing is reversing the power of suggestion to have the salesman think they’re going to make the sale, and then backing out as a way to negotiate your end more.
    .-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Maximizing Value, The Opposite of Earn More Spend Less =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @Don – Great additional points, it always help to have smart people on your Board of Directors

    @FinEngr – Thanks for the nod but more importantly the critique – I need all the help I can get. As for advertising, that is another subject. A poll would be interesting but I believe there is a growing body of evidence already available that suggests word of mouth and viral marketing is much more effective than traditional commercials.

    @LittleHouse – Everything is negotiable, especially cars. Don’t hesitate to walk out when you think you have gotten them as low as you can go. They know just because you walk away it doesn’t mean you won’t buy. It will cause them to simply try harder.

  • @ Little House

    First, don’t sweat it. You did your research and got close to what you wanted, so that’s better than most.

    Now you got me thinking about a side issue. You know, so many poo-poo the “small stuff”. They’ll claim they only worry about the BIG ticket items, but how often do you – go to school, buy a car, or buy a home in your life? Seldom.

    Drawing from a non-financial reference, running magazines ALWAYS recommend starting off small and building up to a big race.

    So, take the smaller day-day transactions as a dry run to practice your negotiating skills for when the “big day” comes. According to your site, it looks like it could be soon!
    .-= FinEngr´s last blog ..Maximizing Value, The Opposite of Earn More Spend Less =-.

  • CJ Bowker

    2 things came to mind as I read this. Maybe I’m naive but I think more modern salespeople ask questions as a way to help. They really want to find out what you want and what’s the best fit for you because they understand that today, you’re going to tell people how the sales process went and how you feel about it. That’s the most important part to a modern salesperson is how great of an impression they leave on the client/customer and hoping/wanting them to tell others about how great of an experience they had. Cars might not be the best example for this.
    The second is pressure that we put on ourselves. Buying a car is a great example of this. We don’t do it often so when we do do it we sort of want to get it over with. This puts the salesperson in a position of strength because you don’t want to walk away. It is important to go into bit ticket purchases saying “it’s not a big deal if you buy it or not” or “today I’m just researching, I’m not out to buy”. This will give you a better way to deal with pressure selling.
    .-= CJ Bowker´s last blog ..Empathy is all I wanted =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @CJ – I do agree with your comment with the caveat that we are discussing “modern” salespeople. This posts are intended to show the lengths that companies and salespeople will go to make the sale but they are surely not representative of all salespeople.
    I work with a lot of sales associates. I would guess that about 60% are just order takers, they don’t really make an effort to become skilled in sales. Of the remaining, about 10% are trying to figure it out how to do it 60% will do whatever it takes, they see it as a game with rules to be broken. The remaining 30% are what you define as modern professionals that are looking to build a long-term and productive relationship with their customers. This is the approach that I advocate because this is the only way to build a sustainable sales career.

  • I wasn’t intending on buying a car and I did after driving back home from my buddies house one day. It wasn’t any car, but a car 12X the value of my existing car at the time. I knew I wanted the car, but never planned to buy it. Oops.

    This is why I lock ALL my money into CDs or private equity investments so I don’t blow everything up.

    The power of suggestion is important… in that if you suggest in a long term relationship, you will get a better deal.
    .-= Financial Samurai´s last blog ..The Curse Of Making Too Much Money And Not Pursuing Your Dreams =-.

  • The LeanLifeCoach

    @Samurai – Great idea, lock up the money where you can’t get to it! I like it… let’s see a salesman get past that issue!

  • Don Williamson

    One thing not mentioned is that the wife and him had talked it over and was made clear not to buy a sports car. Why not? He’s not giving up the house or food and financialy they were doing good! Who makes the decisions in the house? THE WIFE, his ego now is challenged and not getting the car would be the final straw, skirt scared and the home will never be his! She will control everything and it will not be a pretty site!!!

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