Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Auto Dealers taught by Microsoft Sales Course

After my experience today in trying to obtain a van to lease I am convinced that auto dealers learn their sales techniques from Microsoft.

Why do I say that? Because it started with a conversation on the phone.

We would like to lease this van, model type, color, whatever, how does it look on monthly lease prices? Answer came with a dollar figure we could live with. Great, send it to me in writing. They did, so off we went today to swap the old van.

So far it all sounds good, just like any other sales conversation.

We get to the dealer, they do their song and dance and announce a price that is $100 more a month. Funny how that happens, but sad really if Honda and their dealers cared about customers. But maybe they learn from Microsoft that you suck people in and then change the terms on them.

I asked what happened to the quoted price. Was told that the sales person had no right to provide a price. Ok, so let me get this straight, you hire sales people not to give prices to customers that want to buy your cars? Interesting.

So his job is to lie to customers to get them to come in so you can bait and swap them? Sound familiar? Microsoft will come to a company tell them the product will do everything they ask, nothing special required. But there is this minor issue that there are no such options in version X, but buy this one now and when the new version comes out we will let you upgrade. Yes, really nice.

The Internet Sales Manager needs to go to ethics training. When I asked if he respected his staff and stood behind them, he said "of course". I asked why he would tell a customer that the sales person they talked to lied and should not be trusted, yet why should we trust him? Ok, this line happens in every sales organization at one time or another but really, he answered me with a straight face. I did warn him, he was a good deal older than I am, that the Internet has powerful friends and many ears.

As it turns out they did not have the car we wanted, oh we could get the color, but it came with a bunch of accessories which we do not require but the dealer had put them in or on 95% of all the vehicles. I reckon this is the License, with a CAL type deal, even if no one ever uses Onenote. Eventually we found one car that would work and the dealer still refused to honor the written offer from their own sales person. In the end we compromised to an amount that we knew others had signed off on. No I am not happy about it, stick to your word as a company, for better or worse, own up to the fact that you messed up.

Then it was time to sign the 1,000's of pages in documents. They then asked if we wanted to pay in advance for maintenance and towing benefits. Normally I would say no but as this is not my car left it up to my wife and she wanted it. Fine, another $9 month, but no fee for general service. This is the Microsoft Software Assurance offer, but we know the car will go in for maintenance, unlike say Microsoft who may not have any new versions of software out for years at a time. This also felt like the way the Microsoft consultants come to you at 4pm on a Friday and say they need more money, time, hardware to make stuff work or they have to drop the project.

On our side we did go to leave and they gave in to the price we wanted, but not the quoted price. Numerous customers have been in that situation and it is never fun especially if you got budget approval for less.

Some people will say IBM does this as well, but I have faith in the sales people I know not to act this way. Something I do not have for Microsoft sales people or a specific Honda dealer in Pompano.

Everything else went well and efficiently showing that not everything learned from Microsoft is bad. Of course I don't expect to hear from them until the lease runs out again, that is something they did not learn from Microsoft who continuously calls on customers weekly if not monthly.


  1. This happened to me and my wife at a Toyota dealership - the car that we wanted and was quoted mysteriously was not available. Luckily we had a friend who worked for a Toyota dealership a few provinces over, who looked up on their computer, and said "just go across town to the other Toyota dealer."

    The other dealer had the car we wanted in stock....the sales person at the first dealership just wanted to sell the add-ons by claiming that he couldn't get a car without them.

    Everytime I go to a car dealership I feel like I'm a baby seal about to be clubbed.

  2. Yep, I was that baby seal. Probably why I have my Camaro for 10 years, just can't be bothered to go into a dealer, to replace a perfectly good car.