I recently made the decision to lease a new car. So, I wrote down a list of essential requirements: (1) to be able to safely travel from point A to point B, (2) to do so with a good deal of comfort - most usual distance 250 km - most usual duration duration of trips: 2.5 h, (3) good sound system, (4) decent gas consumption, (5) decent envrionmental performance.
All this sounded pretty simple until I started visiting car dealers:
- the first one looked at me head to toe and I suspect did not feel inspired by my casual attire on a weekday. So he dealt with me in a slightly demeaning fashion. Did not like it. Would not buy from him if I decided to go for that car manufacturer.
And I know it is utterly subjective, but that's what sales is all about: a subjective relationship between two persons that will or will not transact. And yeah, there are "objective" ways of deciding, with scorecards and the whole lot, but ultimately... it's all about people.
- the second one knew what model of car I should get before even hearing my above requirements, but proceeded to listening to what I had to say with a distracted expression on his face. When he failed to find the car in his catalogue he called a colleague to get some help. That's when he discovered that the model he had in mind was no longer manufactured and started ranting about it with his colleague on the phone... in front of his would-be customer.
Sad, but that's not where it ends. I asked him to tell me why he "immediately" thought of model X for me and he said: "well, because it has that great looking dashboard with chromed rims around the rev counter and speedometer... and of course it also has the cruise control that you wanted". Did I have reason to feel my requirements were understood?
- the third never managed to follow-up on our initial appointment until I sent a fax complaining for not getting his leasing proposal and for his failure to organize a simple test drive. He immediately sent me a leasing offer. Would I make such an important decision (for me it is important) without trying the product first?
- a fourth one just took the configuration I had made on the car maker's site on the web looked at it and gave me the keys to try a similar model. To him selling a car was tantamount to processing a file in a bureaucratic fashion and he would not bother listen to requirements or accompany me to tell me about the greatness of the car he was about to lease to me. Dan Sullivan, an executive coach, says that "a bureaucrat is an expensive microchip"
I was not impressed. But I kept looking.
And finallly, I was blown away by a young sales person who took the time to listen to my needs, asked good questions, offered proper advice in a language I can understand (I am not a car specialist / fan)... Then he entered the paramters for the car configuration we had agreed upon and issued a formal leasing offer on the spot for me to take away and reflect upon. After that he came with me for the test drive, probed how I felt, showed me functions I would not have tried otherwise... The next day I gave him feedback asking for a different engine and he faxed me two leasing offers, one that was exactly what I had requested for and the second that was slightly amended in a way he thought was better for me. And he was right: it was a better deal for me.
Initiative, common sense, listening, undertsanding, empathy, enthusiasm, confidence, determination to make a damn difference for the customer...
That's a G-R-E-A-T sales person.