How many of you just let out a sympathetic groan when you read that?
I have not car shopped in nearly 11 years. I have had a long love affair with my Jeep…but have recently had to face the fact that it is time for her to retire, and time for me to find another new vehicle I can drive for the next 10 – 12 years. As you can tell, I appreciate and prefer long-term relationships with my vehicles.
I have not had a car payment in over 5 years, so I know that no matter what I find, I will experience sticker shock. I tend to find car shopping to be a wee bit stressful and anxiety-inducing, mostly from the financial and big-decision aspect.
One part of it has changed for me, however. In the old days, I was intimidated by salesmen. Especially car salesmen. But I am in Marketing. I work very closely with our own sales staff, and a large part of my job requires providing excellent customer service. At this point in my life, I have a better understanding, and appreciation for, the job of Sales. I know that a good salesperson will do whatever it takes to close the deal. I also know some of the other traits that make a good salesperson vs. a not-so-good salesperson. More importantly, I am well aware that I am a mature, educated Real Woman consumer who has done her research. When I started this process, I may not have known which brand or model vehicle I wanted, but I knew the features that are most important to me and the behaviors I was willing, or not willing, to put up with in a salesperson.
So now for me the interaction with salespeople has become really rather fun. I have so far been to three different dealerships, and dealt with three different salesmen. (Yes, so far they have been all men, other than one Sales Manager I was introduced to, and she was a woman.) And each of the three have unknowingly represented different “types.”
There has been the traditional “old school” sales guy, wearing his company polo shirt, with his fairly slick “schpeel”, who didn’t want to talk to me until he wrote down all my contact information and asked questions to fill out on his form. After a test drive, he sat in the car and went over every little detail, including how to use the Bluetooth hook-up. He was the one who asked me three times “so ya wanna pick one up Monday?” I of course received my first follow up call from him within 24 hours.
Then there was the laid back, soft spoken, not at all pushy sales guy who acted like he had all day long available to spend with me and my family. Very calmly and politely let me take two different vehicles out on test drives, answered questions, but didn’t otherwise go out of his way to offer other information. Other than copying my license as is necessary before test drives, he never took any contact information from me. I don’t know if I’ll hear from him again.
And third was the young family man. Respectful and polite yet casual and easy to talk to, he was very honest about wanting my business but understood I was not ready to make a decision that day. Offered up suggestions on vehicles, talked with me during the test drive. He has dutifully called me once a week since to check in.
I will say, quite happily, that all three passed the big test: they spoke directly to me, not my husband. They did not make me feel like an “ignorant woman.” They were more or less respectful. And they didn’t make me feel like I had to spend the entire day there or sign away my first-born in order to get information out of them.
I haven’t made my final decision, but we are close. The final numbers game will still need to happen, and I’ll have the amusement factor of counting how many times the sales guy runs “behind the magic curtain” to talk to the mysterious “sales manager” to come back with figures I might be happy with. I’m hoping that process will be as painless as possible.
I just hope, in the end, when the deal is brokered, in my Smart Don’t Mess With Me Strong Female Consumer personae, I don’t break down in tears when I trade in my beloved jeep and they drive her out back. Not sure how any sales guy would handle THAT.