A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks

Think of "The Scream" tactic as a riff on the good cop/bad cop scenario. The gist of it is that the buyer wants a certain car or a certain price that the dealer doesn't have or can't match. At the same time, the buyer says that they're not ready to buy at the moment. Instead of sending the buyer on their way without any hope of getting what they want — which, in truth, isn't available — the salesperson plants a seed that what the buyer wants may be available when he or she is ready to buy and suggests that they contact the dealer before they make any decisions at another dealer.

"Then, you sit back and wait for the phone call," says Lancaster. "If the customer calls you for an unbelievable price, you tell them that you remember what they want and they need to come in to complete the deal. They come down to the dealership believing that you're going to meet their price, get their car, etc., and THEN you tell them the bad news."

That's where the namesake "scream" comes in. Angry that they came back to a dealer that isn't willing to give them what they want when it was suggested that they would, the buyer, in theory, takes their frustration out on the salesperson — or the bad cop, if you will. And that's when the good cop — the manager, in most cases — comes in to seal the deal.

Lancaster continues, "The manager comes over, apologizes, then explains how the customer wanted a price that wasn't realistic (or a car that isn't available), that $XX is the very best price there is, offers to throw in a freebie, and makes the deal. If the salesperson is sufficiently scolded, and the manager is good at calming people down, it can work OK."

The problem with this scenario, as Lancaster points out, is that the buyer no longer trusts the salesperson, which means that they'll never come back to them again. "It's great in the short term, but really damaging to the dealership in the long term, so a lot of dealers won't permit it."