Coffee and Conversation Anyone? Pull up a chair!
If you came of age when the Vans Warped Tour was a summertime tradition and everyone got iPods for Christmas, you know that texting wasn't really a thing like it is now.
Email was a normal part of life, yet the way it was used was still limited.
Forget about those fancy "contact us" or "chat now" options. Those weren't things we came across (at least as teenagers) when trying to get help for something.
I remember how people had pseudonyms and euphemisms for their email, and Gmail was invite-only. Hotmail and Yahoo were the popular ones, though today I still see people rocking @ aol.com or @ surewest.net.
Today, consumers have everything at their beck and call when it comes to contact methods. You can even send a message to a company's social media page. Or, if you really want to clamor for their attention, tag them on Twitter or something. Nothing makes a company go into damage control mode more than public shaming!
Anyway, as much as phone calls have gone by the wayside as texting and electronic communication have taken over, there is still a very valid reason to brush up on your phone skills.
"You Used to Call Me on My Cell Phone"
Think about it, when was the last time you received a cheery "thinking of you" voicemail from a friend? It seems voicemails these days are meant for business-related phone tag so everyone can cover their ends and say "See I called you back!"
We are social creatures, and that means sometimes you have to mix it up to get the outcome you want.
For example, when you need to discuss something with your boss or a colleague, do you feel better after when you do it by email or a quick video chat?
Sure, there is not enough time in the day to replace all emails with a live conversation, and often an email will do just fine in certain instances.
What does this have to do with $2,900?
I flip cars as a hobby, and my most recent search was a painful one. Car prices have been stubbornly high, for a long time thanks to that popular word inflation, and pickings were slim when it came to wanting a car near me.
I didn't think that I would be able to get a discount on anything, especially as dealers were audacious enough to slap "dealer markups" above the MSRP.
This is on top of most dealers, in recent years, and implemented a "no-haggle price" policy similar to Carmax, in an effort to entice customers who shy away from negotiation. Sorry, I still like a good deal.
Thankfully, websites like CarGurus and TrueCar have popped up to leverage technology with the aggregation of sales data to help consumers find out what a fair price is for the car they are looking for.
In addition, one reason I really like CarGurus is that they have a nifty "Negotiation" chart that shows the price and date it was first listed for sale, and then when each subsequent price change occurred.
"No Haggle" really just means "We're not budging to earn your business"
This is useful, as dealers typically get more aggressive and frequent with price drops as inventory lingers. Surprisingly enough, I even saw dealers increase the price after a week or two. Either this market is crazy or some dealers are getting way too emboldened by this chip shortage.
However, I noticed that even when I used the contact form or "request more info" on the dealer webpage, they weren't as responsive, told me to call, or wouldn't budge on price, even after they cut the price multiple times.
Then, I changed it up. I got on the phone, often with an internet sales manager, and broke the ice usually about where the dealer was located, how long they've been there, and any crazy stories about buyers coming in recently.
"If you want this car, you better come and get it before someone else does!"
Finally, I was able to find a car that met my criteria and was a good value. After watching it for a few weeks and noticing price drops, I contacted the dealership. No response. Then some lady texted me as if I had asked for a test drive. Then another person texted me that my offer was too low. So I waited another day and called.
We shared our similarity in growing up in the same town, and then I shared with the sales manager that another similar model was selling for the same price, but less mileage.
I forwarded the links, and even though the car I was comparing it to didn't have navigation, she asked if I would accept a $1,000 discount. I declined and told her to let me know if anything changes. Then on Labor Day, I knew many dealers wanted to max out their quotas, so I offered again. They agreed to a $2,000 discount if I bought the car that day.
Fortunately enough, that same morning one of their managers dropped the price of the car by $900 (apparently he wasn't in the know about their conversation with me) so thankfully I checked that morning at the dealership.
Trust, but verify carries a whole new meaning
As I've mentioned before, you want to make sure you can get agreements in writing, which is why email is something preferable.
However, you can still follow up phone calls with an email, summarizing the conversation. And that's exactly what I did.
So, when they compared what they offered me with the price of the car, they gave in and discounted the car to $2,900 off the internet price. A 5-minute phone call saved thousands of dollars, just by exercising the fundamentals of social connection and negotiation!
5 minutes on the phone? I'd rather spend that time searching for the right emoji
So, anytime you're not getting anywhere by email, the person is unresponsive, or maybe too overwhelmed by an overflowing inbox, try the phone.
Our phones can remotely start cars, lock our houses, track our friends, and provide us with any answer we want to know on the spot. Yet we've ceased to use them for the very reason they were created; talking to another human on the phone.
Be nice, be thoughtful, and put yourself in their shoes. Before you know it, you might be walking out of that call with a favorable outcome, and maybe even a new friend.