A seasoned salesman will always profess to be able to spot a browser or a messer a mile away. What total and utter rubbish, I once saw an elderly couple when my guard was down, thought they were goons and palmed them off onto a colleague. So convinced I was about this, imagine my surprise when my work mate qualified them, test drove them and dealt them all in one sitting.
In the trade its known as ‘Cherry Picking’ and mark my words, you only every allow this to happen once or twice in your career. Yet all salesmen are guilty now and again for taking the low hanging fruit, but during these difficult times you would really expect things to be sharper.
A short while ago, I wrote a piece about a nearby Citroen dealer and its awful sales technique. Bad sales attitudes really does make my blood boil especially when manufacturers go to extreme lengths to produce a jaw dropping car that deserves attention like the current DS range. Sadly this has happened again on a very recent visit to Cambridge on a research mission for my up coming book title. Arriving in the City slightly early, we decided to kill 45 minutes by taking a drive to the local motor village for nothing more than a quick browse before my meeting with Dr Tom Karen of Ogle Design.
Anyone who knows Cambridge will be aware of the fact one of the largest family owned dealer groups resides in this stunning City. Right opposite their group head office you will find a splendid looking collection of showrooms selling a whole raft of marques and one of the largest used car pitches you will ever see. After finding a space right outside their Citroen dealer, we parked the trusty 11-plate Golf whereby ‘er indoors asks me to show her the DS5 I so much adore. Wandering into the showroom we notice a disinterested looking Ryvita munching receptionist by the door who never even lifted her head to make eye contact to greet us.
Once inside, the sales staff were moving the display of cars around (a big no no on a Saturday) and we had a good look over a DS4 and DS3 where my other half commented on the funky bold styling. A C5 Tourer caught my eye which was placed right by the managers office window where I had the chance to scan the board that shows recent sales activity – and it failed to make good reading either. Making our way towards the door Jacky barked at me about how no one spoke or greeted us in the slightest right in earshot of the receptionist whose ears pricked up and went to speak – too late, we were gone!
A few yards down the pitch was Volvo. These cars feature heavily in both of our lives, her dad ran a few of them and swore by them while I had a brand new V70 a few years back while my company A4 was having rear end accident damage repaired. The showroom was neat and tidy with a few slightly older sales staff sat there with prospective customers. After spending just a few moments admiring a V60 we were approached by a jolly nice looking chap with a broad smile and well polished shoes. Rebuffing his advances with my secret stock retort that always works, he simply beckoned us to continue browsing – lovely stuff!
He could gained top marks for asking my name and handing me his card but on the whole I felt that had we genuinely been in the market for a new car, I would have continued dialogue with them. Volvo always had good standards to operate to, a old friend sold them for 20 years and used to tell me how they were mystery shopped all the time and how the UK importers in Slough would come crashing down like the walls of Jericho on any dealer who failed to make the grade or upset a customer. It seems that despite the various ownership upheavals of Volvo in recent years, the dealers still operate a tight and professional ship.
Coming back to Citroen, its interesting to note that after a lengthy conversation I had with a top PR man with PSA UK in Millbrook last month, they are well aware of the shortcomings of certain Citroen and Peugeot dealers and plans are afoot to deal with this issue. The French are doing a fair amount of work to revive the range of cars, yet all this is a total waste of time if their dealer networks operate with all the professionalism and finesse of a chimps tea party. But more worrying is on the part of the actual dealer group, like the above, the pitch contains a raft of different franchises – one would think they would be fighting for your business wouldn’t you?