When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth (Sales Tactics That Should Be Extinct)


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Sadly, in some remote parts of the world the velociraptor still lives…or, in other words, sales practices that should have gone the way of the dinosaurs are still kicking. For those of us who spend our careers understanding and attempting to improve the customer experience in the automotive industry, this is hugely disconcerting.

My wife and I are in the market for a car. We spent last Saturday visiting five dealerships and test driving four cars. Those experiences were, by and large, quite good. The one where we didn’t test drive is the one I want to tell you about. I never want to go back to that dealership again – and I work in the industry.

It started with the sales guy standing outside the door so we had to run the gauntlet as we approached the store. Common courtesies like opening the door for prospective customers were dispensed with as he rushed through and brought us over to his desk. Qualifying the customer as to their needs, driving habits, family considerations and so on went by the wayside as he began to recite key features of the vehicle literally within 15 seconds of entering the showroom.

The two trim levels for this manufacturer’s product were in the showroom side by each. Even though we expressed interest in the higher-end, more expensive one, he didn’t take us over to that car but simply gestured to the model without any attempt of actually showing it to us.

The salesperson’s focus was solely on price, and we were left with the impression that he wanted to slam dunk us on a sale and get to the next customer. Yes, it was Saturday, and the showroom was reasonably busy, but it wasn’t exactly packed either.

The kicker was when he ‘presented’ us with the pricing. I had to scan it and show it to you because it was pretty funny.

2015 10 27 - Dinosaur Blog Posting

What do you notice? Well, first off, it’s hand written. Nothing wrong with this per se, but from moderating lots and lots of focus groups over the years, customers distrust this. It’s more than that; they hate this. Buying a car is the second-biggest purchase of somebody’s life (third if you count education), so treat it, and the customer, with respect.

So much for emphasizing why this manufacturer’s product was better than the competition’s. The salesperson’s focus was solely on price and payment. At the very least, he could have bundled the pricing with pertinent product information that we might have wanted to know, or mentioned something we’d asked about. But he just used price as an incentive.

Price is the easiest and fastest element of the marketing mix to change. Manufacturers and dealerships obviously need to be competitive in pricing, but they need to differentiate themselves in other ways.

This experience really showed me that pricing is a great promotional tool – not for the dealership this guy was selling for, but for Homewood Suites by Hilton. He wrote the financial info upside down on a piece of paper which, I guess, he pinched from a local hotel.

I don’t want this blog post to be a rant. But if you’re a dealer or manufacturer reading it, send it out on a hot sheet or something to communicate to the dealer body that customers do notice these things and because of them, the store will lose the sale.

In absolute fairness, 98% of salespeople are very professional. We just have to wait for the remaining 2%, the velociraptor salespeople, to be extinct.

Until next time.


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Chris Travell
Chris Travell is VP, Strategic Consulting for the Automotive Group of Maritz Research. He is responsible for working with Maritz' Insight Teams to further the understanding and application of the firm's automotive research. He has appeared on numerous television programs and is often quoted in Automotive News, Time, USA Today, Edmunds, Detroit Free Press, The Globe and Mail and various other publications in regard to issues related to the North American automotive industry. He is the principal contributor to The Ride Blog, Maritz Research's automotive blog.


  1. Hi Chris: I just heard a segment on the radio today describing the resurgence of vinyl records and cassette tapes among hard-core music lovers. If I were prone to proclaiming anything a technology velociraptor, I would have started there. Now, I can rightfully call myself “enlightened.”

    You and I don’t respond well to the sales approach you described, but one thing I’ve learned from 30-plus years in marketing and business development: it’s presumptuous to pronounce anything dead. Even vinyl records. I find that I frequently remind myself (grudgingly, in some cases) that if a sales practice that seems repugnant to me didn’t work in a sufficient number of situations, it would self-extinguish. But based on the number of phone calls I get from securities salespeople, it’s clear that enough people have little compunction about buying stocks and bonds from complete strangers they just met via a cold call.

    From your example, it seems clear to me that the individual who confronted you at the door had sold other cars that way. Or his colleagues had – enough of them that his manager coached him – or put it in his ‘playbook’ – to approach prospects that way. I expect that they recognize this coarse behavior will lose some prospects, but they wouldn’t do it if they weren’t bagging their assigned quota of “ups.”


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