When I posted the original – Who’s the Shark You’re Dealing With, (last year) there was so much to say but so little time to express it. So, I wanted to re-post it with some greater detail and an Introduction to “Sharky Jim”.
I read an article the other day by a journalist that went undercover to discover the “behind the scenes secrets” of the car business so he could then write an expose’. The author supposedly posed as an every day guy (whatever that is) looking to get a job in car sales. (and they call the car guys dishonest) I must say, it was a stirring article.
At the front of the story the author tells, dramatically, about the experience of pulling in to a dealership and feeling the “sharks” or sales people watching him. This provoked some emotion in me and got me to wondering: Who are these “sharks” and do customers realize/know who they are dealing with? Ha ha – That reminds me of a movie – when the bad guy says, “Do you know who I am?!” or “Do they know who they’re dealing with??!!”
But really, for a couple of different reasons, I ask this – Have we ever stopped to ask ourselves or better yet, the sales person we are dealing with, “Who am I dealing with?” Seems a prudent question when you consider that you may expect this person to assist you in what amounts to the 2nd largest purchase most of us ever make. Doesn’t it?
Yet in 10 years experience helping literally thousands of people purchase automobiles, I can show you the number of people that have asked me what my qualifications are, with one hand. Put your fingers together and circle them over to the tip of your thumb, (on the same hand, please) because that’s right, there’s been – ZERO – ZIP – in Spanish – NADIE or NO ONE…
Is it just me? Or does it not seem odd that we wouldn’t bother to inquire about whom we are about to spend a large amount of money with? Especially when it’s something as personal as an automobile?
Look – An accomplished sales person will ask you some qualifying questions even if by accident. And a well experienced sales person, with good intentions, will ask you so many questions you may think they are looking for blog material 🙂
O.k. So maybe we are a little uncomfortable asking personal stuff like: Are you married? Do you have any children? What religion do you practice? etc…
But what about pertinent business questions like:
- How long have you been selling cars? Not that “how long” is everything, (we’ve all worked with people that have been in positions for a long time and still don’t seem to get it) but it is reasonable to expect that a salesperson who’s been selling Chevy for several years, may be better equipped to help you find the right Chevrolet for your needs and desires vs someone who’s been selling for three weeks.
- How many have you sold? This has to go hand in hand with, “How long have you been selling?”. If your salesperson has been selling the Chevrolet brand for years but can’t confidently answer, “A lot.” to this question – you may be dealing with someone that fits the “doesn’t seem to get it” example above and you should be careful. There’s a reason they aren’t selling many and whatever the reason is, it can cause your buying experience to be sub par. (to put it nicely) The flip side to this is if they do answer “A lot.” but it’s with a grin like our friend blue in the picture above… again – be careful.
- Could I speak with some of your customers – about you? (This may seem a bit far fetched but bare with me) If your salesperson has been selling Chevy for a few years and has been selling a decent number of them, doesn’t it seem reasonable that some of his customers would be o.k. with providing a reference? I suggest to you that it does. And if your salesperson has built any kind of relationship with any of their customers – they will have at least a couple people willing to vouch for them.
- Where may I read Customer Reviews – About you? In today’s “web based” world it only makes sense that if anyone has had anything good to say about your salesperson, someone has written and posted a customer review, somewhere.
- What did you do before getting in the the car business? Was your salesperson in the military before getting into sales? If so, it’s reasonable to expect them to be direct and methodical. Were they in the hospitality industry or did they work in the medical field? If so you can expect that you will feel well taken care of during your purchase process…
- What kind of vehicle do YOU drive? (I like this one) If your salesperson has been selling the Chrysler brand for several years but drives a Chevy Cruze… You have to wonder – why?
- What positions have you held in the car business? This is an important question because it can help you estimate how much the person your dealing with really knows about the entire auto purchase process. You see, at the traditional style dealerships you will initially start with – “The salesperson”. At many of these dealerships these salespeople are treated like commodities and not really given much in site when it comes to ALL that’s involved in an auto purchase. Many of these traditional style dealers intentionally keep the sales staff – ignorant. This way the salesperson only focuses on SELLING the customer a car. However, this frequently results in frustration for the customer if they are looking for answers about “the best price”, purchase options or financing, because the average car salesperson isn’t equipped to answer these questions – with Accuracy & Authority.
What? You say this sounds like an interview? You bet it does.
And why shouldn’t it. (more of a statement than a question)
Looking past the fact that we are talking about a person that’s helping you make what usually amounts to be the second largest purchase any of us ever make in our lives, consider the significance of the item being purchased.
According to a January 20, 2012 Motor Trend article, an estimated 1,775,812 vehicles were sold by Chevy in the United States in 2011. (That’s just Chevrolet!) For many of these buyers (especially those of us in Arizona where we average 24.3 minutes one way to work) our car, truck, SUV or van is like – our home away from home – Our castle on wheels, a think tank, prayer closet, etc… (Not to mention, it’s what get’s us back and forth between home and the job that pays for the home) What ever it is for you – more than likely your vehicle comes in third place for where most of your time is spent – after home and work. With this in mind doesn’t it make a little sense to ask a few qualifying questions?
Qualifying questions? Yes, qualifying questions.
Remember earlier I mentioned that an “accomplished” sales person will ask you some qualifying questions? (If not, it’s o.k. you can re-read it in paragraph 6 above. It’s still there 🙂 ) Well, if an accomplished sales person asks the buyer qualifying questions… Doesn’t it make sense that the buyer would ask the sales person qualifying questions? You bet it does!
So, the next time you pull into the dealer and the schooling sharks start busting fins to get to you, remember to ask yourself, “Does the shark/person that wins the fin/foot race to me, meet my standards?”. “Does this person have the experience and knowledge that I can reasonably expect and deserve?” “Do they really qualify to help me purchase my next vehicle?”
Wanna find out? Ask some questions of your own.
If you go to the right place – like – Gateway Chevrolet and work – Directly – with the right Sales Manager – like – ME, (David Lovelady – shameless plug 🙂 ) you will be assured to have a qualified individual that’s dedicated and qualified to help you find and get what you want – the way you want.
And by the way… When you pull in to Gateway Chevrolet, you be greeted by a group of friendly faces. – Not a school of sharks. (No offense to Sharky Jim)
Remember – if you have a question, comment or would like to leave a customer review, there is a “comment box” below. 🙂