As an insider of many years standing I have been a student, a senior salesman, a sales controller, a manager, a coach, a disciplinarian, a friend, a brand manager, a sage, a brother, an entrepreneur and a fountain of knowledge and one message that I consistently convey is the importance of qualification.During these tough times with customers and salespeople both feeling confused and vulnerable qualification is vital for both parties, let me explain.
If a customer doesn’t really know what car they would like to buy and doesn’t understand how wide the choice is how can they be sure that the next car they buy will be suitable? And how does a salesperson know when talking to a customer if the car he is presenting is really what the customer needs. Both are suspicious of each other; the customer because he believes that the salesperson will just try to sell them the easiest car for them and the salesperson because they believe that all buyers are liars and that by giving too much information away the customer will use this as a tool to negotiate with a competitor who has done little or no work to gain a sale. Both of these scenarios are happening every hour of every day up and down the country. So what is the result? Well, as I am constantly finding, being offered very late (sometimes only weeks old) low mileage cars that customers want to get out of at a massive cost to them. As we have pointed out in previous articles choosing the wrong car is not like choosing the wrong house the value WILL go down it’s a fact, so making a bad choice or not preparing properly can result in pain all round.
In many showrooms up and down the world customers will think they know what they want and sales people will think they know what the customer wants but where is the harm in asking some simple questions which will benefit all parties and at the very least establish what a customer doesn’t want!
So here goes;
Have you set yourself a budget?
Do you have a car to trade in?
Is that car on finance?
Is the car for business or a family car or is it a second car?
How many miles a year do you do?
Petrol or Diesel?
3 door or 5 door?
Do you have a particular colour choice?
Are you using our bank or your bank?
What are your must haves?
What is the maximum mileage you would accept?
And on and on it could go,
So what is wrong with any of these questions? Will this cause you any anxiety? Let’s be honest they are really common sense.
I have always had a bugbear with customers in London (bear with me on this)The average annual mileage nationally is reckoned to be 12-15k per annum, in London it is more like 6k if that, for the obvious reasons. So why is it if a salesperson offers a low mileage user a car with say 35k but 1 yr old but at a much reduced price to reflect this do these customers not understand that by taking this car at £2-3k less than a low mileage example, after another 2 years the mileage will be back to where it should have been and therefore relatively worth more again because of the lower mileage use, don’t they see that as a great deal?
Perception, if I only do 5k per year how can anyone do more? There must be a catch!
The fact is if the sales person did more qualifying and the customer gave more information about their requirements then surely more of the right cars would be sold to the right people at hopefully the right price.
As usual if we don’t make it complicated it can be fairly straight forward, although I will leave you with this; sometimes you can qualify as much as you like but nature intervenes. I have seen hundreds of twenty something’s drive away from the showroom in their 3dr hot hatches with leather, sat nav, big music blaring and with no regard for fuel or maintenance costs just a gorgeous young girl to impress sitting dutifully next to them.
Then, of course I see them again 8 months later with a pained desperate look on their faces as they look at a sensible low maintenance cheaper 5 door option that can easily fit a buggy and car seat in for the new addition and in that instance realise, that the game is up and the fun is over as impending parenthood kicks in!