How do you handle hot prospects?

  19 August 2018

Three weeks ago, my wife’s car was stolen off the drive of our house. Don’t worry, I’m not after the sympathy vote (though, thanks for that); I’m just trying to explain why I’m suddenly a hot prospect, calling into dealerships with the insurance money in my back pocket.

So far the experiences have been mixed. Lots of sympathy, a couple of cups of coffee but no new (used) car. Perhaps that’s because the car we’re looking for is at the older end of franchised retail stock. But I suspect it’s more because the sales teams we’re talking to don’t have a process in place to handle customers like us.

Their first response is to try to sell us something from stock, even though it’s not what we’re looking for. Three-door? No thanks. Bigger model? No thanks. Priced high? No thanks again. When I suggest that what we want might be a part-exchange coming in over the next few weeks (and we’re prepared to wait), there’s a realisation they’re not going to sell a car that day and interest wanes.

The sales team take our details and “we’ll get back to you”. Only one has actually said: “I’ll keep an eye on what’s coming through the system and let you know”. Nobody has said: “I’ll find one for you.”

I’ve heard similar stories from friends and colleagues. Surely the trick of good selling is understanding the ‘wants and needs’ of the customer and then knowing when they’re in the market. I think we’ve been fairly clear about both.

The point here is not to criticise the dealerships we’ve visited; let’s wait and see what they find. But it makes me question whether the industry has the processes in place to handle walk-in prospects – or is everybody focused on selling that car, out there, on the forecourt, now? A more long term view might pay dividends.

Rupert Saunders
Managing Director
Auto Retail Network

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