Ease up on the rigid sales process or risk driving buyers away

A sales process is not unique to car retailing; there are many examples of direct selling where there will be a laser focussed approach to ensuring prospective customers are being handled to the satisfaction of the business management.

In recent years, however, the following of “a process” has started to become slightly fanatical in the car retailing business and in some cases could result in actually scaring customers away.

You can’t escape the fact that any business selling products or services these days will strive hard to feed their large and hungry customer databases. As far as the company’s marketing departments are concerned the database is essential for them to be able to constantly update existing customers and reach out to potential ones.

Having recently bought my daughter some clothes online I was surprised that to have my order processed successfully I virtually had to submit a DNA sample to buy a £30 item of clothing. If it wasn’t for the fact that my daughter had been draining me for weeks about buying this particular item, then I would have logged off way before they asked for my date of birth and inside leg measurement.

I am now, of course, preparing for the expected onslaught of kids clothing companies sending me details of their wares and will need to ensure that my 13 yr old does not go near my laptop or she will insist I buy her every item, or perhaps that is the point.

The fact is that whilst I consider myself quite forward thinking and embrace progress I can quite clearly see why more and more people are leaving the bit about speaking to a sales person or customer assistant right to the last moment (or avoiding it all together) for fear of having to tell their entire life story to every different one they meet, only to never get called back anyway.

Whilst it is important to record customer details and qualify their wants, needs and budget surely this could be done in a more flexible way and without the need to try and profile every customer to extract every last thing about them.

I am happy to give my contact details and e-mail address and some details about what I am interested in and how I will make my purchase, including my budget, but any more than that I would start to feel a little pressurised and probably begin to back off, which is surely counterproductive.

I still believe that “people buy people” and even my dealings in the trade mean I will often not deal with people I don’t particularly like so the onus on having great staff that do what they say is going to be more vital than ever. If more time than ever is to be spent by prospective buyers researching online before committing to visiting a showroom, dealers may only get one chance and a small window of opportunity to convince customers to buy from them rather than their competitors.

I think it would make common sense to ease off the stringent process. If a prospective car buyer has come to the showroom then they are interested in buying a car so if they don’t want to give all their details and are just making an initial enquiry why scare them off with a heavy handed process which I am told in some cases could take an hour.

I feel tired just thinking about it

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