VIP treatment?

  12 January 2015

The phone rang.  It was an auto retailer I’d bought from, a year ago. “Hi, it’s Paul here. In our January sale, we’re shedding the pounds and fighting the price flab so you don’t have to. I’d like to invite you to a VIP event…”

And there, in a couple of sentences, he’d given a master class in how not to sell over the phone. I thanked him politely for the call but added that I had no intention of buying a car in the foreseeable future (true).

Quick as a heartbeat, came back his reply: “not even if we could find you exactly the right car, at the right price?” I thanked him again and said no. At which point he gave up, to move to his next prospect.

I should mention that the retailer had made a hash of the collection process when I’d bought from them. Even though it was a cash sale, money paid in advance, with no part-ex or other strings, they’d delivered the car late and not troubled to warn me beforehand of any likely delay. Not a huge deal, but enough to make me think twice before buying from them again.

Since taking ownership the car had been fine. But, aside from a follow-up call from the salesman shortly afterwards, and a call a week ago to remind me that the vehicle needed an MoT test, I’d had no other contact.

Which was fine by me. However, selling is all about building relationships. Instead of launching into a full-on sales spiel that treats customers as nothing more than a name on a list, a simple call to check whether all was well followed by a polite enquiry about my future car-owning plans would have been better received by these ears at least.

If any seller wants his customer to feel like a ‘VIP’ he knows how to achieve this. And it certainly won’t be by staging a sales event and lazily titling it as for ‘VIPs’. It fools nobody. Finally, giving sales people the task of parroting such a cheesy script down the phone – and taking the brickbats that will inevitably result – is unlikely to fire them up for the sales challenges of 2015.

For me, this retailer’s approach failed on every count. How should he have done better? If you’ve a view to share, drop me a line.

Ray Castle

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