Lessons from Auto Shopping

Over the last couple of weeks I have been searching for a new car. It has been seven years since the last time I did this. Things have changed quite a bit since even the time before that, 10 years ago where I did this by myself.

Ten years ago I remember not being taken seriously by the salesmen I encountered. They really didn’t want to talk to me, kept me waiting an inordinate amount of time and were hesitant to let me test drive the car, much less try to sell me the car. I have to say that it really pissed me off at the time.

One dealership in particular left a such a lasting impression on me and sour taste in my mouth that I vehemently vowed I would never buy a car from them at anytime in the future. I remember thinking then how many more cars I would be buying in my lifetime and how short sighted they were of that fact.

Three years later when I was searching again, I had Mike go with me so I could avoid this kind of treatment.

And it was avoided. I was treated as a serious buyer. Of course, each salesperson addressed Mike first, then me. Mike had to point out that I was the one who was looking and then like someone anointed the salesperson from the heavens, they were then permitted to direct the sales presentation to me. Whatever. It worked at the time. I actually found it amusing and kind of sad, too.

This is where I need to break in the middle of my story and point out that if you have a product or service and you are selling to women one on one, you better be sure your salespeople aren’t treating them any differently than they would selling one on one to a man. Women talk about this all the time. We care about how we are treated. We expect to be treated with respect and not discounted.

Fast forward to the present. I’ve been to four dealerships by myself. I even went to the one I vowed I wouldn’t buy a car from. But, just to test drive the car (they’re the closest dealership for the brand). I was treated better this time I have to say but I can’t forget the past. It left a scar.

Of the other three, two were foreign, one was American. Hands down the foreign dealerships (especially one in particular) were much better than the American one.

The foreign one in particular is much more modern in appearance and has a system in place for how guests are treated once they walk through the doors. Everything is choreographed. I was made to feel very important. In fact, I was there far longer than I had planned. I think I could have spent the night if I wanted to. I loved watching the sales presentation and took notice of everything that was done. The car at this dealership has become the frontrunner. I think not because of the car but because of the salesperson and overall the way he made me feel. I’m not some dumb broad looking for a car. I have half a brain and my own checkbook. Finally, someone is paying attention.

On the flipside, at the US dealership, I had a feeling somewhat like I did ten years ago. Not just from the salesperson but the other employees I encountered as well (not all men by the way). It was almost like I was interrupting their day. There is an old school feel about the place. It isn’t as neat and clean feeling. It felt like they were behind the times, stodgy. Could I really buy a car from here? The car itself is the most comfortable of them all but I wasn’t wooed. I left feeling uninspired.

Second lesson here. Be sure you know how your competition is selling against you. Above all else, and this is a biggie, if you are selling a high ticket item you should have your sales presentation choreographed. It will make a difference, it did with me.

Kathy Jiamboi
Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.
More articles by: Kathy Jiamboi
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