Friday, June 8, 2007

Salesmanship

I am often reminded of what good salesmanship is when I experience poor salesmanship. This happened to me the other day at a car dealership. I was there to get my car repaired, so stopped into the showroom to take a peek. There was a new car I had been dreaming about, and had already done some research for "the future". A salesman, whom I'll call "Joe", walked up to me and commented how nice the car was. I told him I was "just looking", as I had my car in the shop. I agreed it was a beautiful car, and asked what model it was. He told me it was the "M". Being my sarcastic and sometimes blunt self, I said, "Oh, the version with the bad gas mileage". Joe then strolled up to the windshield sticker and read it to me, with a straight face "12 around town 17 highway, so you should really get 22 highway". I said that was nonsensical, the other version was better with gas. I peered into the car and saw an odd cupholder that protruded towards the passenger seat, just waiting to get busted by my husband's knee. I commented about it. Joe initially tried to defend it and said it was a cool design, but finally offered it could be removed. He then proceeded to tell me about the the costs of the different models and walked away.

What's wrong with this story? First, the salesman should have asked me questions! He should have had a clue I may have been a more serious buyer, because it was evident I had done some research. He may have found out more about me and what attracted me to the car. He should have established some rapport. He may have asked what my delay was in getting this car I really wanted. He should have answered that important objection-- the real objection to overcome. Instead, he countered every single objection, like about the cupholder. One of the basic principles of salesmanship is that small objections often indicate interest. A good salesperson does not have to counter every one of them. Especially if it is evident there is genuine interest. A good salesperson should look for the real objection. He never even got there with me. Instead, he told me about the different prices and models, and I had not even asked. I already knew which car I wanted. He lost a potential sale. Interestingly, the very next day I got a phone call from the dealer from whom I originally purchased my current vehicle. He simply said, we noticed your note is almost up, call us if we can do anything for you. You can bet on whom I'll call when I am ready to "go for it".

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