Recently, my wife informed me that we are due another baby at Christmas. It was a bit of a surprise but we were, understandably, delighted.
Also delighted were several of my friends and family who seemed to revel in telling us that the relative calm, order and harmony we have with one baby will be destroyed by having two. I’m determined that it won’t but I’ll have to come back to you on that one! More importantly, this gives us a window of six months or so to get a few things done that will be rather more difficult immediately afterwards such as an extension on the house, maybe some bi-folding doors and a new kitchen.
I also decided that we should “do something” about the cars too. I have been thinking about this for a while as my car is wholly inappropriate for family life and my wife’s, while perfect for day-to-day use, is not really big enough for two kids and all of the paraphernalia that comes with them. So, we have three options… change mine, change hers, or change both. Changing both is unnecessary and I am a Yorkshireman so we’re really looking at option one or option two. The most likely of these is changing hers for something larger and about six months old and this thought motivated me to visit a local garage to view a car that I had seen advertised.
Parking my car in the glorious sunshine I got out and wandered around the car lot. After a couple of rounds of the lot and being unable to see the car I ventured into the showroom. The car was nowhere to be found. After about 10 minutes and much wandering I tried to find a salesperson but he/she was not easily found either. After a total of about 15 minutes one finally wandered out. This is an accurate account of our conversation…
Salesperson: “Help you?” He grunted and shrugged his shoulders. Me: “I was looking for a car I saw advertised. I cannot see it here. Is it sold?” Salesperson: “Yes.” He looked away as if to walk off. Clearly, that was the end of the conversation from his perspective. Me: (Now doing his job for him) “Do you get that kind of car in often?” Salesperson: “No, but we are getting one in next week.” Me: (Somewhat incredulously) “Right! So what’s the spec on that one?” Salesperson: “Same.” Again shutting up and looking away. Me: “What day will it be coming in.” Salesperson: “Not sure.” Me: (By now totally hacked off) “Thanks.” Leaves.
Honestly, I barely know where to start with this one. Does he not want to make any sales? Does he not want to sell more cars? Does he not want any business? Is he a total moron? Or is he so rich that he needs no commission?
What happened to politely greeting me? Finding out my name? Understanding where I found out about them from? Asking why I was changing the car? Finding out why that kind of car interested me? Working out if he could show me something else? Taking my details? Offering to call me next week when the car came in? Pre-arranging a test drive? I could go on but it’s just common sense if you want to sell more cars. Isn’t it?
There are some who will say that it’s all about training and that the salesperson was not at fault. I was watching Undercover Boss the other night and one of the directors of a motoring manufacturer went undercover within their business and one of his jaunts was to see a sales team in a showroom. One of the salespeople in the branch was sent two “fake” prospects as a test and she failed to build basic rapport (names, why they were there, what they were looking for, why that was I important to them etc) nor did she seem to have any basic knowledge about the cars themselves. None.
Now, one of the things that I like about Undercover Boss is that it is positive. Sneaking up on your people in this way and filming them is not going to build much trust and morale if you are going to rip them apart afterwards on prime time TV so they focused on how she had not had any sales training and how she had had to learn her “product knowledge” with her father at home. But, let’s be honest here, she was a graduate with seven months in the job and she knew seemingly nothing about the cars. Surely, she was aware that her knowledge was insufficient if she wanted to sell more cars? How difficult is it to know about mpg and boot sizes, etc, for a graduate who has being doing the role for the best part of a year? Not too difficult, I’d say. I reckon a couple of weeks to get your head around it would be more realistic. Probably less.
Clearly, the car manufacturer should have been ensuring that all of their salespeople got amazing training but responsibility for your success always lies with you not with someone else and if they’re not fulfilling their part of the bargain then it is your responsibility to sort yourself out.
A son of a friend sells cars locally in Yorkshire for a well-known manufacturer and a national chain. He has been doing it less than a year. Prior to this he had never sold anything to anyone, let alone cars. He is also approaching 40 so he is not a spring chicken either and his work history is, at best, chequered prior to this job. In the last six months he has been top salesperson nationally (twice), won two national competitions and been consistently, week-on-week, top salesperson at his branch. To my knowledge, and on top of his commission, he has won an iPad, a holiday, some cash, a blue-tooth player, a spa weekend… and a cuddly toy.
I asked him what he did to sell more cars than many far more experienced car salespeople and become so successful, so fast. He said, “Work hard. Care about your customers. Listen to what they need. Give them what they want. Give them more than they want. Always follow through.”
I’m pretty sure that could be applied to any industry, any business or any job.
About the author: Gavin Ingham is a writer, inspirational speaker, sales conference catalyst, and founder of the "I am 10" movement: www.gaviningham.com/sales-training