How not to Sell an $18,000 P.2

Car Sales, Customer Service

Source: Flickr Creative Commons Martinak15

When we lasted visited our story, Joan and I were heading back to our home town from a day of work and meetings, still missing that key ingredient to making an informed decision for our impending car purchase.

Having determined that the one dealership in London did not have the model we were interested in, we head out to the second dealership, conveniently located along the route home. What I haven’t shared to this point, is that we have a 3 year old dog at home, that insists upon sharing his dissatisfaction with us if we’re out too long or he’s not feed at a respectable hour. With the weight of the day and the impending mess at home, we were anxious to get the test drive under our collective belts, get home, relax and discuss the purchase.

We arrived with anticipation at the dealership, and to be fair, explained that we would not be purchasing today, but wanted to test drive a particular model. The person who greeted us was less than welcoming and we were ushered to a sales representative. Our representative, even after being told what we wanted, insisted on going through the process (even handing us a pamphlet of the car we’d already thoroughly checked out). After a firm but determined reiteration that we were here for a test drive, we were told they’d check. Minutes later our rep confirmed what we already knew, that they had the models on site and he’d have one brought in from the back for us. Twenty minutes later, we were in our car and heading home, still without having a test drive. During that period we were ignored, nor given any updates on the status of our request, despite the rep walking past us a number of times.

There was one more hope, on the route we were taking was another city, Woodstock, that had the same car manufacturer. We’d make a quick stop there and inquire. We arrived and finally were given the opportunity to test drive a vehicle. Having done our test drive, the rep proceeded to try and sell.  We’d gone so far we agreed to wait to chat to the Business Manager to discuss the options, etc., twenty minutes later, we learned the business manager was still tied up. We left explaining we’d use the online application available. To make a long story shorter, we ended up purchasing the vehicle, only after the online application failed, making two additional trips to the dealership to fill out the paperwork and so forth, and then finally picking up the car – the Friday before Joan was slated to start her new job on the Monday. What should have been a 3 – 4 day process at the absolute most, ended up being a 2+ week odyssey that resulted in our getting the make and model, but not the colour. The car was brought in from another nearby dealership (likely one we’d already visited). If not for the warranty, the few additional bells and whistles and favorable financing options, we’d have walked away ages ago to the trusted and know brand. In fact, the process is on going. One of the dealerships, the one with the booked test drive and had the car in the mall when we arrived, continues to send us messages about our missed opportunities on their latest offers. Laughable.

The purpose of these posts is not to vent, but to illustrate the need for organizations to integrate their online and real world businesses. Even when a “dealership/franchise” opportunity exists, if the proper processes where in place, imagine how much easier this journey could have worked.  From our initial contact, the car manufacturer could have assisted in the process, by identifying available models on the lot (I’m sure they have the info from an inventory management perspective). The systems could have been tied to provide a test drive format (booking) as was offered, even if it meant bringing the vehicle in from another dealership to the one physically closest to us. How the manufacturer and dealerships split the commissions or swapped vehicles (as was our case), could have and should have been seamless to the buyer. We didn’t need to be sold, other than the performance of the vehicle in our hands. All we needed to know, based on our research, was whether or not Joan would be comfortable in her daily 2 hours of travel, to and fro from work and home. There was absolutely nothing that the representatives brought to the process. The front end could have captured more information on our “pain points” and aided in a wonderful experience. In current literature, you’ll read a lot about collaboration and social and business customer relationship management systems and how to improve the customer experience. These tools aren’t meant to replace the human interaction but enhance them.

Imagine, if when we started our journey and shared our information, we were asked to fill out a quick evaluation to identify what we knew and understood about their vehicle and options. The questionnaire would identify opportunities for meaningful discussion with the rep, not the walk around and reiteration of features we already knew about. Clearly we’d have been much more impressed and not felt like our time was being wasted.  We also would likely have raved about a system that seemed individualized, even for an international car manufacturer. Isn’t that after all what the process is all about.

In her book “The Zen of Social Media Marketing”, Shama Kabani, discusses the A.C.T. principle.  Kabani explains that the A stands for Attract, the C for Consume/Convert and the T for Transform. During this process, we had been attracted to the brand from our online research. We consumed the abundant information available from the manufacturer, industry thought leaders and friends with their experience with the brand. It was during the “convert” stage, that the process feel apart. Because of our experience, they have lost the opportunity to transform us into brand advocates. In fact, if anyone asks me for a recommendation, the trusted brand with the used car and their valiant efforts to get us in one, is who gets the nod.

Understanding the “buyer persona” is fundamental to doing business well today. Listed below are some great resources for you to consider. I hope you find your sweet spot. I know that if a prospect approached me with, I’ve done my research, I like what I see, I need to check out this one element and then I’ll be happy to do business with you – I’ll feel like I’ve done my marketing correctly.

Resources

What is the Buyer Persona — Adelle Revella Buyer Persona Institute.

Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve CX — Adam Richardson Havard Business Review 2010

Optimize – How to attract and engage more customers — Lee Odden, John Wiley and Son’s 2011

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2 thoughts on “How not to Sell an $18,000 P.2

  1. What a disappointing breakdown in a system that should be masterfully integrated for any company that wishes to be competitive in today’s marketplace! I’m glad you and Joan ultimately received what you set out to purchase ( save the color issue). But it’s unfortunate that your road to fruition was so convoluted.

    • Thanks Jeanine. It was amazing and more from my perspective a great lost opportunity. If it had been me alone, would have bailed on the transaction much sooner. We got the car, but have not referred them to a single person.

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