What one car sales man did right and the other four did wrong

Don’t miss out on those sales in front of you!

I'm always amazed how sales reps lose sales that are in front of them. Let me share a story how an amazing Toyota sales rep sold me a car two years ago.

On December 2015, for the first time in my life, I leased a new car. I wanted to try out leasing a vehicle instead of outright purchasing it.

Research with notepad and laptopMy requirements for a new car in order of importance were very simple and straightforward:

  1. The car had to be a SUV, very basic features
  2. It had to be a 24 months lease
  3. No money down - $0 up front fees, $0 security deposit
  4. Maximum monthly payment: $300
  5. And finally it had to reliably start every time I turned the ignition key as my previous SUV from 1994 only started selectively

Brand was not a factor in my decision, I figured with a 24 month maintenance plan and warranty built-in anything that happens could happen with any brand. I began by emailing five local car dealerships with my requirements requesting they contact me immediately as I wanted to secure the lease before the end of December.

Guess how many dealerships contacted me within 48 hours: TWO

The first to respond was a Toyota dealership that emailed and called me within three hours after sending my emails. The second was another local dealership that emailed back the next day. The other three dealerships never contacted me. The sales reps from the two dealerships that contacted me both arranged test drives for me.

I first test drove a Toyota RAV4 that same day I was contacted by the Toyota sales rep. When I arrived for the test drive three hours later, the car was ready to go, clean, washed and the sales rep met me at the front door of the dealership and asked me questions about my requirements and needs.

Then we proceeded together with a 20 minute test drive. The sales rep focused all the way about any questions I had regarding the car and the lease while reinforcing some of the features and benefits of the RAV4. When we concluded the test drive, the Toyota sales rep asked how I liked the car, if I had any further questions, and if I was ready to sign a lease. I told him I have another test drive scheduled for the next day and I will get back to him after my test drive. He wasn't satisfied with the answer I gave and proceeded to politely ask me when tomorrow's test drive was scheduled for. To his credit, he promptly called me the next day approximately one hour after my scheduled test drive!

I guess he forgot to write down that he had already arranged the test drive for me the previous day!

WaitingThe next day, I test drove the SUV from the second dealership. However, when I arrived at the dealership, the sales rep who had arranged to meet me at a specific time was nowhere to be found. Yet he had arranged the car for a test drive and his associate handed me the keys to the car. So off I went on my 20 minute test drive, ALONE! After completing the test drive, the sales rep who I had talked to and arranged the test drive still was nowhere to be found so I left the dealership. I did not hear from this dealership's sales rep until the following day. And to my great surprise, he was calling not to ask about my test drive experience of the day before or if I had questions about the lease terms but to schedule an appointment for a test drive. I guess he forgot to write down that he had already arranged the test drive for me the previous day!

After the test drives, I had concluded that even though the RAV4 was a bit more expensive and slightly above the $300 per month threshold, both cars met my needs and either car would be a good choice for me to drive around for the next 24 months.

I now was at the point of selecting which car to lease. If you haven’t guessed already, I leased a Toyota RAV4.

My purchasing decision was based on the actions of the Toyota sales rep. He had done all the right things that mattered to me:

  1. Immediate response to a request from a (potential) customer. He wanted to get in touch with me as soon as possible.
  2. In our initial conversation before the test drive, he asked me questions and reconfirmed what I had written in my email request when we spoke. All were just basic questions but he wanted to know what I required: what I was looking for in a new car, what is important for me to in making my decision, how soon was I going to make a decision, which other SUVs was I considering. He was prepared with questions he wanted to ask me to better understand my decision making parameters. The second dealership sales rep only talked to me about how superior their SUV was.
  3. Scheduling a test drive as soon as possible. Trying to be the first in line to be in front of the customer. The Toyota sales rep's sense of urgency was very evident, not so much with the other dealership sales rep.
  4. When I arrived at the Toyota dealership for my test drive, the exact car the sales rep thought would be appropriate for me was ready for me outside the dealership for my test drive. The sales rep met me along with the leasing terms and other documents which were laid out simply to make sure I understood everything. The Toyota sales rep and the Toyota dealership team had the organization and systematic approaches to prep the car as well as the paperwork in a three hour window. The other dealership had prepared a SUV for the test drive which was fully equipped even though they told me later they had other SUVs with less features, additionally no one met me and no lease documents were available.
  5. The Toyota sales rep accompanied me during the test drive answering any questions or handling any objections I may have during the drive. The other dealership sales rep was nowhere to be found even though he had said he would meet me and accompany me when I came in for the test drive.
  6. Once back at the dealership, the Toyota sales rep asked me if I was satisfied with the test drive, if the lease terms met my requirements - both positive reinforcements, then asked if I was ready to sign the contract for the lease.

Upon reflection, the product features and benefits were practically the same for both cars but the differentiating factor was the actions taken by the Toyota sales rep and the team that supported him.

It's not just relationships or price that sells products. Sales reps, the professionalism they demonstrate, the fundamental selling skills that are employed during the sales cycle, the support team, and having the sense of urgency to sell are part of the value proposition which can outweigh any price discussions.

Perhaps, what made the Toyota sales rep that sold me that RAV4 amazing was reflected in his ability to initially establish an easy rapport with me, ask questions and identify my interests, pain points, needs and decision making criteria, presenting the product in a way I could easily comprehend, handle objections and possess a sense of urgency to close and follow up. And yes, being able to do all of the above ranks one as an amazing sales rep!

To no one's surprise, I have been a very happy Toyota RAV4 customer ever since. Now my only concern now is how I will be treated at the Toyota dealership when I want to obtain a new lease at the conclusion of my current lease in December 2017. Stay tuned!