What You Can Learn From My Recent Experience Of Buying A Car For My Son

My eldest son, Thomas, turned 17 last November. Since then, in between his studying, he has been learning to drive (no accidents yet, although his driving instructor reliably informs me there have been a few close shaves!). He will shortly be taking his test, so my wife Helen and I decided to buy him his first car (ouch!).
As always, I can’t help myself in evaluating the sales process businesses use. Most businesses really don’t have any ’process’ at all when it comes to sales and selling and, whilst the car industry is a fairly old and sophisticated market in terms of ’selling’, it’s no surprise to me that there are hugely differing approaches, most of which SUCK.
One of the problems we have in the UK is that once new drivers pass their test, especially at 17 – 21 years old (but in particular at 17 and 18 years old), the insurance companies hike their prices to a ridiculous level. So much so that it just wasn’t feasible to put Thomas on either my wife’s car insurance or mine (the lowest figure was £8,400 a year – yes, that’s eight thousand four hundred pounds!). Typically, most people will therefore drive very small cars with engine sizes of less than 1.4cc.
So a few weeks ago we all set out to visit the local dealer for each manufacturer. Our experience with each differed greatly. Renault, Peugeot and VW just went through the motions. They were all very similar. They were helpful enough and polite but they didn’t really WOW us. In fact, they were very ordinary (just like most businesses across the world!). But, and it’s a BIG but…
Toyota were excellent. They stood out by a mile (without doing anything complicated). In fact, they did a lot of what I advise our hundreds of members to do—the lessons are insightful and can be used equally well in your business.
So let me take you through our experience with them (I’ve picked out the main points, but there were more…

• Proper Reception Area:
As we entered the garage there was a dedicated reception area with pleasant seating area and FREE tea and coffee and soft drinks. The lady at reception was warm and courteous and asked us what she could help us with. She than asked us to take a seat, took our drinks order and told us ‘Daniel’ would be with us in a couple of minutes to help
• Good Qualification & Identification Of Exact Requirements:
Daniel the sales rep came over within a couple of minutes, introduced himself and then proceeded to find out exactly what we were looking for, using intelligent questions which not only identified what cars were most suitable, but also if we were a good ‘prospect’ in buying mode or not. We didn’t want to buy Thomas a brand new car but we did want it to be no more than 3 years old. We wanted the car to have alloy wheels (he is 17, after all!), air conditioning (not that we need it that much in the UK!), sat nav (unfortunately he has my sense of direction), electric windows, radio and CD player and central locking. Of course, the car had to be under 1.4cc to keep the insurance costs at a reasonable level.
• Print-out Of The Most Suitable Cars:
So after identifying exactly what Thomas wanted, Daniel told us he’d be a couple of minutes and he would return with a list of all the suitable cars. Sure enough a couple of minutes later he returned with a list of around a dozen used cars—each fitting the specification identified above. That’s impressive.
• Viewing:
Then Daniel proceeded to show us each car (his print out told him exactly where each vehicle was situated) and showed Thomas around each one offering helpful advice on each car. What he was doing here was helping us (Thomas) narrow down his choice to maybe one or two cars—too much choice leads to indecision and procrastination.
• Negotiation:
Thomas did in fact narrow his choice down to two cars and we left the garage telling Daniel we would be in touch the following day once Thomas had made his mind up. The negotiations were concluded and both us and Daniel felt we each had a good deal.
• Car Pick-Up:
When we went to pick up the car, as you’d expect it was gleaming—inside and out. Daniel showed Thomas all the various controls, set up the sat nav for him and then talked us through their referral programme (you do have a referral programme in place for your business, don’t you?).
Again, this is impressive. Many salespeople are so concerned about their next sale, they don’t dedicate enough time to making sure the customer is happy.
Now, you may think that what I’ve just explained is ‘normal’. I can assure you, whilst much of what I’ve highlighted is simple and common sense, very few people do the ‘sales process’ well.

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