One of the less obvious car salesman tricks is the use of the contrast principle.
Honestly – and thinking out loud here – you might even be on the lookout for this same idea being used in relation to another car.
If I were a car salesman I would be friendly and develop a rapport first. But then I would take you to see our showroom car. It would be the best car we make with every accessory imaginable.
Of course, all this has nothing to do with selling you the $120,000 showroom car.
It’s about putting the $120,000 figure in your head in a tangible and visual way – so that the $50,000 car that I am about to suggest seems cheap in comparison.
The takeaway here is that sometimes, not all car salesman tricks are obvious. And the order of things is not always an accident.
Automobile dealers use the contrast principle by waiting until the price for a new car has been negotiated before suggesting one option after another that might be added. In the wake of a fifteen-thousand-dollar deal, the hundred or so dollars required for a nicety like an FM radio seems almost trivial in comparison. The same will be true of the added expense of accessories like tinted windows, dual side-view mirrors, whitewall tires, or special trim that the salesman might suggest in sequence. The trick is to bring up the extras independently of one another, so that each small price will seem petty when compared to the already-determined much larger one. As the veteran car buyer can attest, many a budget-sized final price figure has ballooned from the addition of all those seemingly little options.
-Robert Cialdini, Influence