Sales tips from the motor trade
Car dealers need to sell cars: it’s their livelihood. For you, shifting your unwanted motor is something that comes around what? Every couple of years at most? But for them, it’s an art. The better they get, the richer they become, writes Ray Castle of motors.co.uk.
Whether the sale happens from a big second-hand car lot or at the drive of your house, the story’s the same. There’s no magic to success – but if you get yourself organised and pay attention to detail you’ll win through.
We’re here to help. Follow the motors.co.uk guide to selling the way the pros do and you’ll get there faster – promise.
Get the car looking really clean
Wash the outside thoroughly, including the wheels. If they’re grubby, use special cleaner to loosen brake dust and grime. Tackle marks from road tar or bird poo. Don’t forget to wash inside the door shuts and the wheel arches, too. If the results aren’t pristine, do it again.
Inside, empty out all your clutter. And we do mean all - your car should look as neat as on the day it first left the showroom. Take out the mats and vacuum then thoroughly then do the same with the carpets. Tackle any stains on floor and seats with carpet cleaner and a damp rag. Wipe all the dash plastics and buff the windows clean. Leave the windows open to air the car and, if needed, banish bad smells with a fabric freshener spray.
If all that sounds too much bother, pay a car cleaning company to do the work.
Don’t go overboard, though, painting the tyres with dressing and polishing the body to a peerless gleam. Buyers think twice about cars that look ‘over-prepared’.
Gather together registration documents, MoT certificates (if needed), garage receipts and service book. Put them into a neat folder ready to show buyers: it’s bound to impress
Price it right
Look on motors.co.uk for cars just like yours and compare prices. If you want top dollar and aren’t in a hurry to sell, pitch the asking price at the top end of what you’ve seen. If you’ve asked too much, you can easily reduce the price and use this as a selling point. Otherwise, go for a mid-range figure.
Don’t ask as much as dealers do, though, because they add in the cost of prepping the car and will add some form of warranty, too.
Keep a diary and schedule appointments
When buyers call take their names and phone numbers and make a date for a specific time. Don’t book two or more buyers to arrive at the same time – it’ll be confusing for you and off-putting for them.
If no buyers call, drop the price
Decide what’s the least you’ll sell for and reduce towards that, in small instalments. Quite often a modest £250 discount is enough to get the phone ringing.
Don’t be too pushy...
Launch into a sales spiel the moment buyers show up and you’ll put them on the defensive. Be friendly and ready to show them the car, answering any questions they may have truthfully and with a smile. Allow time for them to look as much as they want.
...but mention the car’s good points
If the service history is complete from day one, show them proof. If the tyres are new, point them out. Don’t feel obliged to draw attention to any marks on the paint or other drawbacks. And if the buyer gets picky, don’t apologise. Just smile and say: ‘it’s second-hand – of course it has faults.’
Be ready to haggle...
Who knows: your buyer may be so smitten with your car that they’ll offer what you’ve asked. But you shouldn’t count on this. Keep a figure in mind below which you won’t sell and stick to it. If they tell you that your car isn’t worth the price, stay polite and don’t respond. Simply restate the amount you want. If a silence develops, don’t feel you must jump in and fill it. Often by saying nothing you can gain advantage because the buyer will sense that you’re happy and, if they’re keen, improve their offer.
... don’t be a pushover, though
If the sum offered isn’t high, enough, never be afraid to say ‘no’. It’s easy to fear that if you lose this buyer you mayn’t see another. That’s not true and, once the buyer before you realises that you mean business, it’s possible that they’ll improve their offer. Always remember that, no matter how forceful the buyer may be, you’re in charge. If a deadlock develops, a way out may be to re-state the car’s good points: low mileage, service history, one owner ...whatever applies.
Don’t hand over the car until the money’s safely banked
It’s natural to feel cock-a-hoop that you’ve made a sale. But don’t let your excitement cloud your judgement while making sure that you get paid for the car.
The safest way to move money is by bank transfer. Drive to a branch of your buyer’s bank and wait with them while they pay the agreed amount directly into your account. Then ring your bank to check that the funds have arrived, and the job’s done. Alternatively, if your buyer wants to pay cash, drive together to your bank. Accept the cash only once inside the doors and pay it directly to your account.
Banker’s drafts or building society cheques can be forged, but your bank may not discover this for some days after you’ve paid it in. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not ‘as good as cash’. And if any buyer offers a cheque for above the amount and requests a cash refund, politely decline. This is a commonly used scam and the payment will almost certainly be a fake.
The bottom line is this. Don’t hand over your car, its keys and documents if you’ve the slightest doubt about the validity of payment. Better to disappoint a buyer than be robbed.
For more great car buying advice and to view and buy new and second-hand cars, click on to motors.co.uk. Surf the web using your mobile phone? Go to motors.co.uk's mobile site or text ‘motors’ to 65056 and we’ll send you a link. If you’ve an iPhone, you can download the motors.co.uk app for free. Go to the ‘utilities’ section of the iTunes store.