Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sales 101 - All Customers are Potential Customers

Sunday I took my 9 year old son with me as we went out to look at some cars. The '02 Camaro has just a few more things to get done it than I would like plus, because of my birthday, the registration is up for renewal this month. Sad to say but 11 years might be the limit on this one.

So off we go contenders. First stop, as it happens, was a Hyundai dealership. The ubiquitous Sonata seems like it might be in line with our needs and price. After all I haven't paid for the Camaro for a long time and the idea of paying for a car again is not the exciting.

As we drove up to the dealer,, my son said, "ohh I like the red one", I thought I raised him better than that. (I hang my head in shame) Anyway so we look at the car by the front door and I point out to my son where to find the details about the car and point out we need a 3 seater in the back.

We proceeded to go inside the showroom to look at what was new and some configuration options and to find a brochure on the Sonata. While I am not partial to a hybrid, the ROI is not there for me, if it is close in price I would think about it. In any event, not one sales person came over to talk to us. None. We walked all around and the group of them congregating by a desk obviously had met their quota for this month or year. Evidently, and rightly so, I was not going to buy a car, today, so they did not want to waste their time them. All 8 of them. However, since I had cash in pocket, in case a decent deal was available, I could have made a deal. But none of these pillars of salesmanship cared.

My son and I discussed this and I explained the premise of an incentive to him. We discussed how these people were either grossly underpaid or grossly overpaid. Either way, they have zero incentive to help a customer. One which happens to have a few thousdand friends online who love stories like these to use as BAD EXAMPLES OF BUSINESS.

There was no care if I were to return, nor obviously that I should have any good impression of Hybundai or the owner of the dealership. Yes, I can go to another Hyundai dealership, if I REALLY want a Hyundai, but you know, something tells me I may not be so happy in a car from a dealership that doesn't care about the customer.

So after 5-10 minutes of boredom and no interest by the staff, we got back in the Camaro put the top down and drove a little further down 441 to a Volkswagen dealer. this was a muich better case study for business.

I wanted to drive a Jetta and a Passat, if anyone cared to talk to us. Within a few minutes of getting out of the car and looking at one or 2 cars on the way to the showroom we met Michael who was very friendly to both of us. We talked about what I needed, what price points and my son asked if it came in red. Naturally Michael had a few cars to choose from and we ended up driving 3. The 3rd was Michael's effort to get me into a different option, a Tiguan, which is what sales people should do, give you other choices you may not have thought about.

While I pointed out the differences in cars and why one drove differently than the other, it became clearer to my son what a mistake the other had made. Michael got my son some water and talked to him like he was getting the car. I was clear upfront about not getting a car and even though he did the ABC(Always Be Closing) routine on me we did get quite far in my view of the Passat being more what I was looking for. Well I want my '62 'vette back, but for the family purposes....

In keeping true to form, one complains to 10 times as many people as one applauds, but in this case it is equal. What you readers do with this, is not my interest but for all of you in sales, including myself, what do you do to represent your brand? Do you do it well? Do you scoff at potential customers as deadbeats? If your attitude would change because I, as a customer, walked in wearing a suit and tie, then I probably do not want to work with you.

Neither of these experiences were very social on the business front per se. No email address request, just my physical address. No, follow us for Tweet of the day car deals or Like us on Facebook. Just old time get to know each other social face to face.

Lessons learned by my son include:
Incentives work on your staff, when they make sense
Be nice to everyone, when possible, you have no idea who they are or who they work with or for
Your business, if it has a TV on, should be showing something relevant to your sales purpose
Your staff is your brand, make sure they care about your brand
Red cars are not better, they just look that way

If the owners want my help in encouraging their staff, I am happy to do so, my fees are reasonable and I barter.


  1. Good insights. As someone who just got back from Connect, it was interesting to watch the dynamics among the consultants and bloggers, many of whom are my friends.

    At the risk of sounding like I'm whining, this was my experience :-) While a few of them showed interest in what I was doing technology-wise, for the most part they were content to stay in their cliques of friends.

    In theory, besides being someone they know from online interaction, I am also a potential client. In the end, after it was apparent that they just wanted to be left alone with their friends, I was happy to hang out with the more sociable in the lot and get to know them better. I am happy to send business THEIR way.


  2. Relevant point, Dan! Keith's scenario translates well beyond a showroom and can be applied to conferences, networking events, etc.

    (Although red shoes sometimes really ARE better. Just saying.)


  3. Dan, I can appreciate where you are coming from one tends to hang out with their crowd. But in time, many of us open up more and more, we have to else we can not survive.
    I know many people online and sometimes it takes me a few interactions to get my thick head who someone is and what they do. Not being great at faces and names, this is something I struggle with every year at the show.
    Luckily for me, more people recognize me and introduce themselves at the show.
    Hopefully I am in the latter group that is more social, but if not, I apologize to you, and anyone else, it was not my intention. Usually I am only pressed for time/meetings rarely because I am hanging out with anyone.
    As to my post, it was an enlightening experience.

  4. Colleen,
    Yes it is beyond the dealership, it can permeate every part of your business.
    I'll ask Paul :-)