A few months ago my wife bought a new car. She has always had an affection for Volkswagens and has driven that brand since college. A VW Jetta was the first car she bought by herself after high school. She went to the local VW dealership with cash, spoke directly to the owner, negotiated a deal and drove off the lot that day.
Fast-forward 15 years to her most recent purchase. “I’m thinking about getting a new car next month,” she announced one night.
Sitting in bed with a laptop on a Sunday night we scrolled through consumer reports, compared resale values, and within a couple of hours had chosen a model, compiled a list of features, and settled on a price we were willing to pay. In the morning she drew a 500 mile circle around where we live and sent a short email to every dealership within that geography.
“I am interested in purchasing (car). I would like it to have (features). I will be paying for the vehicle, not financing it. I will be purchasing within the next few days. Please let me know your best price.”
This email was sent to more than 15 dealerships.
Over the course of the next couple of days she received emails from four dealerships with quotes. There were 11 emails requesting contact information without a quote.
On the third day she sent an email to the low bidder who was 230 miles away, coordinated a time to meet the next day and the deal was done.
As I reflect on this transaction it is remarkable that the sales methodology of a multi-national corporation could be so uniformly out of touch. The buyer was qualified, knew what they wanted to purchase, and had provided a timeline. Clearly the sales process was nearly complete. Yet, ignoring those signals there was an attempt to create a new sales process that would have started back at step one: Give me your contact information.
The 11 dealerships that didn’t provide the requested information were ignored, three were sent declining emails, and one got the business.
The consumer controls the buying process
According to Google and the CEB Between 57 and 70% of the buying decisions are made before contact is made with a supplier. of the The more shocking revelation in this study suggests that sales professionals are capable of affecting, at most, 12% of the process if at all. Gone for good are the days where skilled sales staffs could influence buyers’ decisions more directly. Unfortunately, the consumer controls that process and isn’t likely to give it up.
It’s time for a new approach.