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Consumers' Ideal Automotive Salesperson Is a Negotiator to Help Get the Best Deal

Consumers' Ideal Automotive Salesperson Is a Negotiator to Help Get the Best Deal

By Jeff Youngs, May 21, 2015

In the eyes of consumers, a salesperson's most important role in the new-vehicle purchasing process is that of negotiator, according to 46% of purchasers of new vehicles in the United States. Those purchasers prefer their salesperson serve as a negotiator to help them get the best deal on a vehicle, rather than serving as educator[1] or facilitator, according to the May 2015 PowerRater Consumer Pulse. Consumer Pulse is a monthly analysis developed jointly by J.D. Power and DealerRater. Another 42% of new-vehicle buyers prefer that their salesperson act primarily as an educator, while 12% prefer them as facilitators.

The percentage of U.S. buyers who prefer their salesperson to be a negotiator is slightly higher among mass-market vehicle buyers (47%) than among luxury vehicle buyers (43%). At the brand level, buyers of Nissan (53%) and Kia (53%) vehicles are among the most likely to want their salesperson to be a negotiator, whereas buyers of Subaru (35%) and Audi (40%) are among the least likely to want their salesperson to be a negotiator.

"Given that people so often turn to the Internet and smartphone apps to research vehicles--and can even see what others have paid for a similarly spec'd vehicle--the results of our analysis were somewhat surprising; but it's clear that consumers still want salespeople to be part of the overall purchase process," said Gary Tucker, chief executive officer of DealerRater.

According to the 2014 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study, 55% of new-vehicle buyers indicate they received a lower price through negotiations.[2] Study data also suggests that satisfaction with the overall purchase experience is lower among new-vehicle shoppers who attempt to negotiate a better deal than among those who don't (793 vs. 844, respectively, on a 1,000-point scale).

"Dealers would do well to examine their approach to customer negotiations to close this satisfaction gap and to avoid misconceptions and frustrations with in-store interactions as well as preserve loyalty and advocacy for the product being sold, person selling the product, the place where the consumer buys the product and its overall price," said Tucker. "Employee review pages are a great example of how we've seen dealers achieve this. By making connections and establishing trust with the salesperson before going into the store, anxiety is lessened and the overall sales process goes faster and smoother."

Younger Buyers More Likely to Negotiate Vehicle Price
"Among the generations,[3] Gen Y buyers negotiate the vehicle price 72% of the time, while Pre-Boomers negotiate only 61% of the time," said Chris Sutton, vice president, U.S. automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. "Gen X negotiates 66% of the time and Boomers 64% of the time. In an increasingly digital world where everything's at our fingertips, savvier consumers are armed with a lot more information to bring into a negotiation than was readily available in past generations," Sutton said.

[1] Educators provide insights and information about vehicle models, trim levels, options, and features; facilitators provide relational information about the dealership
[2] This is a multiple-response question in 2014 SSI
[3] J.D. Power defines generational groups as Pre-Boomers (born before 1946); Boomers (1946-1964); Gen X (1965-1976); Gen Y (1977-1994); and Gen Z (1995-2004)

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