Last night I went looking at cars. Though I had already decided on a VW Jetta TDI (diesel), I promised my Dad I’d look at the Hyundai line (he’s a Consumer Reports follower). I walked in to the dealership and immediately went into the rope-a-dope defensive position as the wolves circled the fresh meat. One rep asked if he could help. I asked him which of these vehicles would most comfortably house my 6’6” frame. “This one!” offered a different rep and I sauntered that way.
The minute I sat down and pulled my legs in, the feature dumping began: “You know, this car goes 0-60 in 5.7 seconds. It’s only a 4 cylinder, but it has 190 horsepower. The model you are in is the SE. It has a sunroof and blah blah as well as a navigation blah blah. Plus, blah blah blah and blah blah blah.”
As a sales trainer, I am cursed. Imagine being a food critic and walking into a restaurant. You immediately see everything they ought to be doing. The food is good, but not great. The waiter said this, but he should have said that. You are tough to please. That’s how I feel when I am on the customer end of a selling situation. This feature-dumping bonehead had no chance.
I hopped out of the car and said, “How do you know any of those things matter to me? You have not asked one question yet.”
You’d have thought I’d thrown cold water in his face.
“Like what?” he asked.
“How about, ‘What are you looking for in a car? What are you driving now and what do you like about it? What is the most important aspect to a vehicle? How have your car needs changed?’ ”
Needless to say, I lost a friend.
Very quickly, Tony the sales manager (is it a requirement that they are all named Tony?) came to his rescue and the ship was righted. Mr. Feature Dump sulked in the corner, hopefully learning a lesson but likely just pissed at the customer.
The TV show, “What’s My LIne?” used to do a skit where the entire conversation had to be done in question format. That kind of schtick would be good for a sales rep. You learn nothing with your mouth open and asking questions forces you to be in listen-only mode. Maybe Tony will get through to him.
As for the car, I am not likely to buy a vehicle with a $5,000 “market adjustment fee” tacked on to the sticker. When I saw it (and after I stopped laughing), I had a question of my own for Tony: "Are you kidding me?"
Note: The next Sales Challenge starts Thursday, June 3 at noon ET. Go to www.TheSalesChallenge.com for more information or call Bill at (781) 934-7036.