#5 A Non-Responsive Internet Dept (Part 2)

Shopping for the Right Salesperson

Second in a series of two posts on a dealership interaction: In the previous post, I indicated that after two emails requesting a lease payment on an in-stock compact SUV, the dealership I had contacted still had not fully provided the information I requested. What to do? On the plus side, the dealership was quick in responding and after the second request, it provided the sought-after monthly lease payment based upon the parameters I gave. On the negative side: The response was incomplete, extraneous information was provided, and it took two requests to get what we needed.
My wife Lisa and I decided to visit the dealership. We had never driven this compact SUV and needed to rule it in…or out…of our consideration set. Another email exchange with the internet salesperson and a follow-up call the next morning set a mid-day Saturday appointment. We were advised that upon arrival, there would be an XYZ Limited waiting for us to inspect and drive.
Arriving on time, we were greeted near customer parking by a salesperson who was pleasant, but clearly dejected that we had an appointment to see someone other than him. He walked us to the front desk where the receptionist summoned the internet salesperson, who arrived promptly. After a brief welcome, our internet salesperson was all business: something to the effect of “I have an XYZ Limited right outside; let’s go look at it and drive it.” Bang! We were on a mission. Our salesperson walked steps ahead of us, never asking us a question and said nothing unless I asked a question.
Lisa and I conducted a quick vehicle examination while the salesperson waited nearby, providing short answers to the couple of questions we asked. The test drive was next, and the salesperson jumped in back. I thought I could get the salesperson to open up a little and asked how long he/she had been working at the dealership. The response? “Years.” At that point, I seriously considered suggesting Dale Carnegie’s famous book, but I restrained my impulse to be a Sociology 101 tutor.
The test drive was basically a square of right turns: enough to assess the vehicle’s throttle response, sway in turns, braking, and level of road noise. We asked a couple of questions which were competently answered. When we were done, our salesperson walked us back inside, answered a question about leases, and introduced us to the sales manager as we were on our way out. That gentleman inquired more about my current lease (which ends in six weeks) and pressed us to consider getting out of it early and buying today, or within the next few days.
I expected a bit of a press regarding buying today/soon and countered with the fact that we had not completed all our vehicle research and comparisons yet to even know if this compact SUV is “the one.” After a bit more of a press (“We’ll make your last two current lease payments….”), we parted friends and I promised we’d be back if we buy an XYZ Limited.
Within 24 hours, our salesperson sent us a form-letter email thanking us for coming in and asking for our business. So very few salespeople follow up these days, I was happy to see the gesture. Then, within another 48 hours, I received two follow-up calls from dealership personnel who identified themselves as sales managers. There was more of a push to consider ending our current lease early with a dealership promise to “eat the cost.” Once again, I pushed away saying that if we go with an XYZ Limited, we’ll be in contact soon.
For your consideration and comment: The internet salesperson was competent, did everything promised, had decent vehicle knowledge, but had no rapport-building skills at all. What should a manager do about that? Once again, because there were virtually no questions asked of us, there was no understanding of why we wanted a compact SUV or how we’d use it. Therefore, the vehicle was never positioned and sold to us in our usage context, and the encounter was almost entirely transactional. Is that okay? If not, how would you change that?

About the Author

Mark Krach is vice president at automätik, an organization dedicated to “Eradicating boring training from the face of the Earth.” He has nearly 30 years’ experience in the automotive industry—having worked for a manufacturer, a dealership, and as an automotive training writer and facilitator all over the U.S. and Europe.