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My worst sales experience, as a client.

I went to try this BMW…


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Dovydas Van Gucht

3 years ago | 5 min read

It was a beautiful summer afternoon. Birds chirping, the sun caressing my skin and me driving toward the BMW dealership.

I had scheduled a test-drive one week earlier and was excited to finally test a BMW and see what all the fuss was about. I came to the dealership with my assistant Vilius and what followed was one of the worst sales experience I ever had (if you can call it sales at all).

First impression

Making the right first impression is crucial. I personally love meeting people and making them feel like they are the most important person in the world at that time being. 
My clients are the ones that bring bread on my table, thus seeing them makes me happy, meeting new ones is fun— and people feel that joy. When making the first impression, you set up the mood for the rest of the interaction. 
Make your life easier by starting with a smile and the right attitude.

We walked into the dealership with excitement — I was never a BMW fan, but I decided that today my opinion might change and I might become a fanboy. With a big smile, I step through the door and there — nothing.

No greeting, no questions asked, no sales manager — just a showroom and sales reps running around not giving us a single glance. Then I spotted an administrator a bit further down the showroom. I came down to her desk and asked for Ralph (let’s call him Ralph for the sake of the story).

She showed me one of the sales reps and went back to her computer screen.

We walked towards the guy, who suddenly stood up and walked right past us. We stood there for a good 3–5min. just looking for guidance.

After a little while, Ralph came back and finally greeted us. No lengthy talks or introductions — he just gave me to sign some papers and we were out to drive the car.

My first impression was terrible, but I understood that he was probably having a bad day and shit happens — now let’s see how the sales process goes, how will Ralph present this impressive car.

The drive

The first step towards sales is getting to know the client — what they are looking for, what are their goals, and so on. If done correctly the client will feel a connection and the seller will be able to clearly identify their needs and offer the best product. In my experience — anybody, who wants to grow their sales, must become experts in understanding their clients first.

While walking towards the car, Ralph asked nothing — absolutely nothing. Worst — when I asked about the car and why do people love them, he looked disinterested.

He didn’t care nor about us, nor about the car. From my perspective of a salesperson that felt terrible — how can you not be excited about your product? It’s an amazing sports BMW!

I’m a sales guy and talking is what I do for a living. So sitting quietly in a car, during a test-drive, on a sunny summer’s day was just unimaginable to me.

Yet that was the reality — Ralph just didn’t talk. Therefore I asked him questions, trying to break the ice and make this entire experience less awkward. I was met with short answers and apathy.

Ralph’s mind just wasn’t in this car and he wanted for this test-drive to end ASAP. At some point, his emotions spread to me, and I just decided that I’m not interested in the car at all and just want to go back to my SUV and drive the hell away from that dealership.

Talking about the car itself — it was okay, perhaps it was great, but I couldn’t experience it because I wasn’t being sold on the car. Maybe it had some amazing features or a terrific story behind it — it probably did, I don’t know.

Back to the dealership

I personally always ask for feedback from my clients. They are the best way to improve, understand the client, and step up your game. Without getting any feedback — we just make assumptions about why the client didn’t buy, what went wrong, and more. Feedback is gold and it’s free!

When we came back to the dealership — we signed the papers and then Ralph suddenly realized that he’s a sales rep. He asked my opinion about the car — I couldn’t say much, because I didn’t know anything about it — he didn’t tell me anything during the entire half an hour test drive.

Afterward, he handed me his business card and remarked that if I’ll have any questions, I can call him. At that point, I didn’t want to have any business with him at all but took the card out of politeness.

He had over 30min to sell me on the car, on himself, and make me excited, now it was over and my opinion of BMW went all the way south. The cars might be amazing, but never will I go to that dealership again.

What I’ve learned

You’re never selling to one person. I might not be the target audience of the dealership, but my orbit is filled with people who are.

The experience was so unpleasant that I told it to my surroundings and now they won’t go there either — nobody wants to repeat someone’s bad experience.

Focus on the person you’re with. Be present, be with your client. All the problems and worries that are on your mind won’t disappear just by thinking about them — you’ll focus on them later. If you’re with a client, be with them and be 100%. People feel it.

Learn about your clients. If you want to have a good conversation, most of the time it’s enough to ask questions. This will make the clients feel acknowledged and you’ll know way more about them. You’d be surprised how interesting people are, once you get to know them!

Do more than others. Before this test drive, I tried a brand new Volvo SUV and although I didn’t buy it, the experience was fantastic. I got full attention, coffee offered, and a follow-up call. Those are details, but they made me positive that when buying my next car, I’ll go to Volvo first.

Love your product. If you’re not excited about your own product and don’t think it’s great — your client won’t be either. The first step towards selling any product is selling yourself on it. Once you love your product, sales will grow.

I’ve worked with guys like Ralph before. You’ll always meet them near the coffee machine complaining about how sales are low, how clients are indecisive etc.

The worst part is that in their mind nothing is their fault and therefore they never take responsibility. Don’t be a Ralph — care about your clients, prospects, and surroundings. Not only will you feel better, but your sales results will do too. Cheers!

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Dovydas Van Gucht


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