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The psychology of car-buying

Posted by Christopher Shea  May 4, 2009 02:22 PM

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So which will it be, Sir?

When a car dealer asks a browsing male customer, "Do you have to consult anyone else on this decision -- or are you able to pull the trigger if you see a car you like?" is the salesperson:

1. Merely soliciting information, to avoid wasting time on someone who cannot buy on that particular visit -- as well as making use of consistent survey data showing that women (or significant others in general) heavily influence family car choices?

2. Insinuating that a male who needs to ask his partner if he can buy a car is unmanly, in hopes that the customer will attempt to "prove" the salesman wrong with a decisive purchase?

3. Some combination of 1 and 2?

The question is so universal (they even use the same language) that it must be part of Car Sales 101, but I'm not sure what psychological buttons they're trying to push. Answers from psychologists or management professors are especially welcome.

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