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What’s the rush?

(Part -2 of the 3-part study on Customer Experience.)

As a customer I have always felt something’s amiss when the Salesperson rushes me to make a decision. Statements of the sort, “You have to tell me in the next one hour!” or “The offer lasts only till the end of the day”, made me smell a fish. How about you?

Prakash and Priya were buying a car – the need was a city runabout, a small car that would be easy on the pocket, on upfront cost and recurring cost. Priya would be the user, but Prakash, being the more car-savvy one of the two, did the buying. In Part-1 we saw them reach a decision and buy the car from a popular maker.

But in the run-up to that purchase Prakash had visited numerous outlets to test-drive cars and to gather information on the models that were priced in their budget range. The reception he got from the Salespersons at the dealership and the steps they took to acquaint him with the car and the process were worth further study.

There was one particular 3-day spell in the month-long exercise during which Prakash felt choked and haunted. He was analyzing a car that was at the higher end of the price range and the terrible episode was sparked by his first call to the dealership. The designated salesperson immediately brought a car for a test-drive and delivered the message in the sweetest manner possible. He increased the self-esteem of the potential buyer by remarking how smart Prakash looked in the car and how it would feel each day to use such a classy car.

After the drive the Salesperson requested Prakash to visit the showroom in order to check their facilities and also to get information on the finance and registration formalities. Prakash obliged by making the visit the very next day.

Prakash was not sure that he and Priya would buy this model – mainly on account of the acquisition / maintenance cost. But, the Salesperson wouldn’t take “No!” for an answer. He asked how soon they would make a decision and Prakash gave a vague reply because he had more or less made up his mind, after a quick chat with his wife, not to buy this brand / model.

But the Salesperson, quite obviously under pressure to make the sale, kept calling. He would call 3 – 4 times in the day and each time give some sort of inducement or speak about the benefit of an immediate decision. He would call when Prakash was busy at work and later when he is relaxing at home. There was no way of getting away from this person – and when he wasn’t calling there would be text messages to remind the customer about the pending decision.

Prakash had mentioned after the first day that although they had not decided yet they would going for another brand, but the Salesperson was not willing to give up. However his constant follow-up was actually driving his potential customer nuts.

On the third day Prakash had to use harsh words and threaten the Salesperson with dire consequences if he called again. He had been driven up the wall and couldn’t handle it any longer.

While enthusiasm and perseverance are good qualities it can’t be taken to the extent that customers feel annoyed or harassed. A professional sales person would know where to draw the line in this regard. He would stop following-up on the sale when he realizes that the customer has made up his mind to buy another product.

He also knows that the thoroughness of the work done by him will ensure that the customer would call him if there is any change of plan.

In fact it’s something he would do as a closing routine “I would have loved to get your sale, but I respect your decision to go elsewhere for the purchase. However, if you do change your mind feel free to call me. Happy driving!”

That’s the focus of your pitch – to make sure that the customer goes away having positive thoughts about you and your product.

Haste only makes a great waste!

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  1. April 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    nice piece Jaydev

    • JayadevM
      April 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Thank you, Mastermind!

  2. Raji Sumanth
    April 18, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Bang on! I’ve been at the receiving end of such sales tactics and it only makes me pin my ears back, dig in my heels and refuse to budge! Of course, I’ve seen this only in India. Here in Oman, the buyer chases the seller…even after forking out the cash 😉

    • JayadevM
      April 18, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      Ha! Ha! Ha! That last one brought back “fond” memories of my days in Oman.

      That’s so like you, Raji. The Sales guys don’t know who they are dealing with.

      But on a more serious note – rushing it is bad and not working at the pace expected by the customer (within reasonable limits) is bad too. The process needs to be explained to the customer and the service rendered within the defined time-frame.

      Being too fast or too slow displays absolute lack of concern – it kills the experience.

  3. April 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    Jayadev, I believe most of us have a story or two like that to share. I remember how I’d gone berserk once with a Mahindra Holidays representative. Just as you say, it strengthened my resolve never to buy a product from that company. On the other hand, polite salesmen have managed to sell me products I was merely flirting with.

    Thank you for those pearls of sales wisdom. it is amazing how it relates to each and everyone of us.

    • JayadevM
      April 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

      Don’t start me off on Club Mahindra! But let us keep it civil and I’ll just say “I understand”.

      Yes, Salespersons often mess it up for themselves and the client with an overdose of enthusiasm. They never realise their folly till its too late.

      Glad you found it relevant and interesting.

  4. Santhosh S Valsalam
    April 19, 2013 at 8:30 am

    My experience with Car Salespersons has been the exact opposite. No salesman ever follows up beyond one perfunctory phone call. Of course, it could be due to the fact that we are Automobiles Dealers ourselves.
    My personal experience says that the Sales Executive who follows up with his customers after the Sale is the most successful one. My best Salesman is a guy who keeps pestering me to give this and that benefit much after the sale. He is in touch with his customers after the sale is over. Most customers enjoy that pestering ( pampering ?? ). I sure do. I am still waiting for a car salesman to do that to me 🙂

    • JayadevM
      April 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

      Hi Santhosh

      You definitely are one of a kind! 🙂

      I enjoy dealing with a persistent Sales Person and have experienced a few. During a recent car purchase I was called a few times by an Executive from the Maruti Dealership. This person never pestered me 3-4 times each day. The calls were once in 2 or 3 days based on previous commitments from my side. I was also kept informed about a change in phone number, just in case I wished to call.

      Sadly, the deal was closed with another dealership due to other factors, but I still keep thinking that this person deserved the sale for persistence and the quality of follow-up. I still retain the person’s number and plan to give it to friends who wish to buy a car.

      Good Salespersons are a treat – they take the buying experience to a new level.

      There is one other factor involved here – the type of customer one is dealing with – one size doesn’t fit all. With some customers you may have to be very business-like and reserved, with others you may be very chirpy and friendly and with a third kind the salesperson may have to take the lead and push for a deal. The idea is to gauge the situation and behave in a way that best suits the situation, without irritating the customer. The Salesperson in my article did not have the good-sense to do that.

      Now, pestering the boss to extract a benefit for the customer – that is a different ball-game and it is recommended too. This salesguy has learnt that you need to be pestered to get that extra bit for the customer. And you are doing right by delaying giving the freebie – that helps you confirm how good the prospect is and how serious the salesguy is about winning the sale.

      But I guess you like being pestered and enjoy pestering others too – that’s the predicament your sales team-member is in. 🙂

      There is a huge difference between pestering and persistence and most customers (except you) hate being pestered!!

      If your Sales People need training you know whom to call.

      • Santhosh S Valsalam
        April 19, 2013 at 11:21 am

        jayadev, i think you have misunderstood me, Whatever we commit at the time of sale, we give then and there itself. I am talking about unpromised benefits. For example it could be some free repair outside the warranty period . The follow up ( after the sale ) is no longer pestering, it is pampering, particularly if accompanied by unpromised benefits. The theory is that you deliver more than what you promise.

      • JayadevM
        April 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm

        Hi Santhosh

        This Salesperson was not pampering the prospective customer. He was calling a person 3-4 times each day just to ask when the sale would be closed; he did not take permission to call, nor did he check up whether the client was free to talk.

        I would not tolerate such intrusion and it would not please anyone to receive such unsolicited calls.

        As for the benefits offered to clients, I understand that deals are offered to clients upfront and based on the size of the deal and the importance of the relationship additional benefits could be given to prompt a favourable decision. I am aware of that.

  5. April 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Jay, whatever happened to anticipating customer’s needs, analysing their feedback and acting accordingly…. great piece again! Sales, Customer Service…. common to all!! Can’t please everyone, but always make sure to have goodwill for the future…

    • JayadevM
      April 20, 2013 at 5:43 am

      Wish more professionals in the Sales / Service side of the business realised that. These days most of them are just working for tomorrow – they can’t see beyond the end of their nose.

      Only when they start investing in long-term relationships with their customers will they achieve success on a sustainable basis.

      Not many of them what you have suggested – anticipate, analyse, be proactive, etc.

      Thank you!

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