A topic I recently discussed with friends generated a lot of recognition. We were talking about car sales people.
As professionals who travel around, we get our fair share of mileage per year. Thus, we are more often in the market than the average car buyer.
Surprisingly, in our small group of five, we all shared similar experiences. In an industry where manufacturers go as far as determining what tiles are needed in the showroom, little effort seems to go into determining the role of the salesperson. Resulting in bumpy customer journeys.
These were some of the anecdotes of bad customer journeys that were shared during our discussion;
On instilling confidence:
- Being ready to buy, browsing the showroom for 30 minutes and nobody walking up to help. Even having to wait for attention at the counter because the receptionist is busy with paperwork. Without the necessary confidence in the levels of customer service, this prospect walked away.
- Two persons reported arrogant salespeople who were convinced that there was nowhere else close by to purchase their brand. One person bought the car with a dealer in a different town. Another went to a different brand.
On guiding to delighters:
- Encounters with mind reading salespeople are also on the anecdote list. Sales professionals who felt your needs without asking. One person shared his story on a sales guy who continuously pushed for an estate version of a model. This to better suit his family needs. The person ended up with another dealer, because he wanted a fun car and didn’t enjoy the guilt feeling he was talked into.
- Strong annoyance was expressed towards pushy sales people who guided towards the models that only satisfied their bonus targets. One person stepped to another dealer as the sales person became unpolite after failing to convince him to buy a different model.
On offering a deal, value for money
- One individual recalled a sales guy who offered an in-showroom deal that was higher than the pricelist on the internet.
- Not understanding what brings value to the customer, leads to price haggling on the core product between different dealers. Although this does not necessarily drive customers away, it does represent a missed opportunity for the dealer. Finding the value placed by the customer on the dealer’s service, the professionalism of the workshop and throwing in a high customer value option, might win you the deal without deep discounts.
Fair to say that there are some pretty good car sales people out there, unfortunately they were scarce in our encounters. Our sample was limited to the Belgian market and is statistically not relevant, it is the perceived truth by five semi-experienced car buyers who all bought new cars in the last twelve to eighteen months. So please treat it as such.
As a manufacturer, you might want to dig somewhat deeper into these anecdotes. They all seem to indicate that the large investment made in a compelling customer journey that led to a certain brand preference, were thwarted in the last stage before purchase. Prospects that knew what they wanted, were driven away by sales people not understanding the new sales paradigm.
The digital age has made the customer better informed than ever, but great sales people will still make a difference. Organizations who don’t recognize this new reality and arm their sales force accordingly, run the risk of losing out because their sales force became disablers instead of enablers.
If you have any stories of your own, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments section.