Confessions of a former Used Car Salesman:
The “Hit Figure”…how buyers are manipulated and deliberately panicked to get commitment to overpay for a car.
For those of you who don’t think that Car Sales is a sophisticated profession with a very nuanced skillset, you’re definitely going to want to read this…especially if you plan on ever buying another car someday.
Commitment is an emotion, not a thought. People truly believe that they’re making “smart” decisions and using their brains to figure all factors into their decisions, but the reality is that we make decisions based upon how the environment, perceived or real, makes us feel. People do truly believe that they are thinking “logically”, but what it really is is something called Confirmation Bias. Logic depends on its inputs to render a conclusion, but if you’re not aware of all the actual inputs, then it’s impossible for you to make an actual “logical” decision. So, our brains just kinda “punt” decisions when we FEEL good about them.
So…just THINK about it…when you hear the word “commitment” what do you immediately think of? Maybe you thought about marriage, eh? How about buying a house, or even just where you’d like to settle down for the rest of your life? Were those thinking moments, or did they just FEEL right for you?
There is a running theme on my blog here about emotions being chemicals in our body, and while that is true, I don’t want to muddy the point of this post with chemistry.
I’ve done a lot of things in my life (most recently a blogger, apparently) and aside from many years in the Public Schools teaching, I’ve also worked in the Private Sector, specifically selling cars. Now, I know that pretty much everyone hates buying cars, but that’s only because people feel out of control and powerless in the process, which really is the truth, because it’s real. The Dealership, the good ones anyway, and I mean the true professionals, absolutely maintain their power throughout the whole Sales Process, and you, the buyer, are basically just left bobbing and weaving like a candle in the wind.
The “Hit Figure” is just one trick they use.
To be blunt, the “Hit Figure” is a term very specific to Car Sales and what it is is the FIRST OFFER on your Trade-in that the Sales Manager gives to your Salesperson, to then present to you, the buyer, at their desk. If you’ve had this experience, then you probably know where this is going. See, that first offer is ALWAYS ridiculously tiny compared to, not just what you were hoping for, but, if you did your research, it’s tiny in comparison to what Kelly Blue Book has on your car, even for one in the worst condition.
Now most people think that the dealership is trying to rip them off, and while that might be true, that’s NOT the reason for such a tiny first offer on your Trade-in. The real reason is that it’s actually supposed to hurt your feelings and make you deliberately angry. This always works, because people have love affairs with their cars with all the history they’ve spent in them, and they always over-value them in their heads (we all do it). So, when they see the tiny figure, it’s just plain insulting….and that’s exactly what it’s designed to be.
When we get angry, we make really stupid decisions. But that anger is really just a chemical that was released into your bloodstream and it’s extremely difficult to get out, or burn off, without you spending that energy with a lot of yelling, smashing, and even crying. However, in our well-mannered society, we don’t like to SHOW that we’ve just lost our shit, because, socially, it just makes us look stupid. So, in that moment, the buyer kinda just freaks, and gets confused, frustrated, and they (you), the buyers, really are in a kind of “fog of war” state of mind.
The figure you see above is called a “4-Square” and it’s basically a way for the sales guy to work the deal. You can think of it as scratch paper, but it organizes the important factors in the deal, such as Price of the car, your Down Payment, the Monthly Payment that you want, and, then the Trade-in value. The whole idea with the “Hit Figure”, which is always done first, is to get you, the buyer, amped up and freaked so that you won’t be thinking clearly, and it’ll allow the sales guy to whip around the paper and get your eyes off of the overall price of the car. And the guys who are truly skilled with it will have all kinds of scratchy scratch scratch written all over the place. I mean these things are supposed to look like a total mess, which, of course, contributes to the whole “fog of war” state, that the buyer is put into. See figure below. Mine were always even FAR WORSE than that. lol!
Actually, there are a bunch of things going on during the deal, which, if you like, anyone out there can send me an email on the specifics, but for the purpose of THIS post, I just want you to understand that in any negotiation, it’s in the interest of the seller to get the buyer amped up into a “fog of war” state, so they’ll make bad decisions throughout the rest of the negotiation.
The best car salespeople will actually be able to put their buyer throughout this whole emotional roller coaster Sales Process and then everyone “hugs it out” (not really hugging) in the end while you drive away with your new car, feeling totally awesome by the whole experience. You’ll drive away believing you got a good deal and were treated fairly, to the extent that you’ll then proudly go around to all your friends and family, showing off your new car, telling them all about your great experience at that dealership. Sounds awesome, right? Of COURSE you got a great deal…right? I mean no one wants to go around with their NEW CAR and tell all their friends that they just got their heads ripped off at the car dealership…that would make them look stupid, and right in front of their friends.
NO ONE wants to LOOK STUPID in front of their friends. And it’s not like they can take the car back, right? So…people lie…they lie to themselves, and they lie to their friends. And that makes everyone feel better.
The TRUTH is that you just got CONned, what, in Car Sales lingo, is called a “Swat”….yep, you just got Swatted! lol I’m totally lmao right now, does that make me a bad person? lol ….hey, don’t hate the player, hate the game….we all gotta eat, man.
The whole process was designed to string you along and, with each step, to increase your COMMITMENT to buy.
Remember, COMMITMENT is an emotion..not a thought.
ESSENTIAL POINT ==> This is also exactly the same process….the same series of emotions…the same outcome…that you go through every day when you watch your News shows.
The News “Reporter” gets you amped up and angry with the “if it bleeds, it leads” story, then, over the course of the rest of the show, puts you on an emotional roller coaster which, in the end, makes you FEEL like a real winner and super CONfident in everything you just “learned” from the “information” that they told you. Then, of course, you immediately go around to everyone you know, especially on, now, social media, or even texting, or sitting around the dinner table, or at family get-togethers like Thanksgiving and Christmas, etc. yammering on about ALL the new “information” that you just “learned” from the show.
And, if anyone attempts to question you about it, then you immediately get even more angry and get right into fight mode with them…
…anger ..is an emotion……it’s the emotion that gets COMMITMENT from you.
But the TRUTH is that none of it is/was real….….and you just got CONned.
All you’re really doing is giving that News show and its advertisers FREE advertising on social media, and by word-of-mouth and whatnot. It is a sort of brainwashing, actually.
I bet you’re feeling really super smart right now, eh? Yeah, no, you’re feeling pretty damn stupid…I get it.
When people realize that they just got CONned, they never tell anyone…because that would make them look stupid, and in front of their friends…how utterly embarrassing, right?
This is why the truly great Cons keep getting away with their cons…because no one goes around talking about being so stupid to just get conned by the Con Man (or Woman).
This is also why the News Media can get away with brainwashing kids to riot and destroy whole cities because they’ve been led to truly believe they are “fighting Fascism”. Or why so many millions of people can be brainwashed to believe, and be so CONfident in their belief, that vaccines are harmful and that they should never trust actual Scientific sources, such as the CDC.
Follow me for other recipes on how to get (emotional) commitment from people to sell them an over-priced XYZ, by making them FEEL so CONfident in their beliefs.
– Your Friendly Neighborhood Science Teacher