December 11, 2006

A car salesman's secrets:

A reader wrote last February:


I sold cars on assorted lots during my summers off from college. What you're saying [in debunking Malcolm Gladwell's theory that car salesmen are unconsciously offering higher prices to blacks and women] is true.

As a matter of fact, because of this phenomena of black men wanting to appear to be big spenders, I reflexively used what is called a "negative sell" approach. When a black man would tell me what car he was interested in, I'd "try" to dissuade him. "That's kind of an expensive model. Not everyone can swing that. Maybe you should take a look at a Ford Focus? Obviously, it isn't like the car you're interested in, but they're easier to finance."

Most often, he would say, "Oh no! I can afford what I want, no problem." I'd reply with plenty of enthusiasm, and show his car of choice. Back in the office, if he gave me any objections, I'd remind him that I told him it might be a little too expensive for him to handle, and he told me it would be no problem. That usually squelched any lowballing efforts.

Where did I learn this? Through experience, and the advice of mentors who had been selling cars for decades. Nothing unconscious about it. We all just wanted to make money. What race a fellow was being irrelevant except as it may pertain to getting them out with one of our cars under their butts. If I'd been told blacks enjoy English tea and crumpets, and I found it to be true, all my black customers would be sipping Earl Grey.

Race did not matter to me. Making the sale did. Matter of fact, professional sales is all about psychological self-discipline. Generally for a professional salesman, being a racist is not cost effective. Being observant of human behavior, and accurately identifying how to exploit it... is.


It's striking how often those who denounce me for noticing some racial difference so often assume that I must be saying it's 100% genetic in origin. For example, to my mind, where a group falls on the urge to drive a hard bargain vs. to be seen as a big spender appears to be far too variable over time, place, and situation to be purely genetic. Earlier this year, I quoted one of America's most insightful social observers on his own tribe's cheapness:


"We're talking about an ethnic cultural trait. And the simple fact is that the urge to drive a hard bargain famously varies between ethnic groups. As Dave Barry notes in his new book Dave Barry's Money Secrets (Like: Why Is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?):


"I'm the world's worst car buyer. I come from a long line of Presbyterians, who get their name from the Greek words pre, meaning 'people,' and sbyterian, meaning 'who always pay retail.' … My idea of an opening tactical salvo is to look at the car's sticker price and say to the salesperson, 'This looks like a good deal! Are you sure you're making enough profit on this?'"


Quite true today, but I suspect that a few centuries ago, Barry's Scottish Presbyterian ancestors were viewed by English Anglicans as tight-fisted cheapskates.

Groups can change. The point, however, is that change is frequently slow enough that clear patterns can be discerned and exploited by the knowing.

It doesn't do black car buyers any good for Malcolm Gladwell to tell them that car salesmen are not consciously trying to get them to pay higher prices. Blacks are better off knowing the truth -- that they are being intentionally discriminated against by dealers who use their own typical behavioral patterns to extract more money from them.

Blacks should get mad at this situation and take steps to end it. Buy Saturn's that come with a no-haggling single price. Practice not falling for dealers' playing tricks on delicate egos about their financial situations. Complain. Criticize other blacks who fall for gimmicks like the ones described above. Do something.


The truth shall set you free.



My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

13 comments:

Glaivester said...

Hey! I just commented on Steve Sailer's website.

To quote the immortal Keanu:

WHOA.

The Best [ Ghostface ] said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Big Head said...

As observed in the wild, the key to successful predation is sizing up the prey. It is not the black and white stripes on the young zebra that draw the attention of the lion, it is its easy-to-overpower size.

I've shopped for cars. Never once did I leave my home without considering my how my appearance and demeanor might be interpreted by a salesperson. No flashy watch or stylish jacket -- no sense in getting them salivating. Instead, I dressed like dad did for the hardware store. I'm not an idiot. I realized that I was about to enter a killing zone; that I would be sized up, circled, and, if I let my guard down, devoured.

Like anything else, your skin color will be an issue only if you let it. Go in fully informed, with your weakest impulses in check, and ready to run for your life. That's how you even the odds and get what you want without losing your hide.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer - so much to say...so little intelligence, understanding and empathy...

Because of you, we need to dig in and work a little harder to make the work less racist, less hateful and less narrow-minded. It's OK; we're up to the task.

Glaivester said...

anonymous -

So many insults, so few facts.

SFG said...

I don't buy this Front Page excuse. I think Steve didn't turn comments on because he knew he was going to have 50 comments like anonymous's on every post once people realized they could sling mud at him.

The dude's got enemies. Just give 'em a little time...

Anonymous said...

The dude's got enemies. Just give 'em a little time...

Give 'em a little time and all the enemies will look like idiots.

Anonymous said...

The blacks are dumb. Plain and simple. Their worship of "bling bling" is the reason they over-pay at car dealerships. No nead to sugar-coat it.

The average negro has an IQ of less than 85. You do the math.

P.S. I am not racist; I just state the facts. Those "PC" types who don't like it can go to hell.

SFG said...

Saying people are 'just stupid' is one of the easiest ways to avoid trying to understand them. While I don't necessarily buy Sailer on genetic origins of the black-white IQ gap, he does seem to try to understand the other guy's point of view most of the time.

Anonymous said...

Sailer, you're sort of like Hitler--evil, and with a pack of people worse off because of you.

Look at some of these posts. Awful.

Anonymous said...

So if a black man wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase walked in, you would read him as ostentatious and quote him a higher price, just because he is black?

I suppose all Arabs should be racially profiled as well...

And there is no logical connection between skin color and a desire to spend more money. Do blacks in Africa wish to spend more money on cars? In England? Jamaica? What about Brazil?

I think this is the gist of why Gladwell finds such arguments to be so "obviously" racist because they otherwise make no sense. He doesn't look down on his readers, he assumes they are thoughtful and intellectually honest.

The Best [ Ghostface ] said...

.

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