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Trace Ordiway

Trace Ordiway Internet Sales Best Practices Consultant

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CONFESSIONS OF A MYSTERY SHOPPER - PT 3

This week a wonderful thing happened.  I got to see real salesmanship in action.


Here’s the set-up: I only mystery shop Ford dealers, and I almost always mystery shop for an F-150.  But this week I got the wild urge to do something different.  I had two stores to shop so I sent the same request to both: the female shopper clicked the “Get  Info” button on a specific 2012 Ford Focus in the dealer’s inventory and, in the Comments/Questions box, wrote “Does this one have a sunroof?”

Here is how Store # 1 replied:

Mystery Shopper,

This particular Focus doesn't have the sunroof.  There are only a couple hatchbacks in entire country with sunroofs right now.  Is there any other design that  you want, or did you want me to notify you when we come across one?

Dealership Salesman

Ouch!  He pretty much shut me down, didn't he?  He said “No” to my question (This particular Focus doesn't have the sunroof), then told me “No” again (There are only a couple hatchbacks in entire country with sunroofs right now), then drove the ball back into my court (Is there any other design that you want, or did you want me to notify you when we come across one?). 
 
In this situation, the shopper’s path of least resistance is to simply hit “Delete” and walk away from both this dealership and further interest in the 2012 Ford Focus. :-(

So imagine my utter surprise and delight when, a few minutes later, Store # 2 replied like this:

Good morning Mystery Shopper!  

Thank you for your inquiry on the 2012 Ford Focus.  I did check the availability on this unit and as of now it is available.  We do however have customers looking at it, but no strong deals as of yet.  You asked if this unit had a sunroof, but it does not.  It is a beautiful vehicle and very well equipped for an SE.  I don't think you will be disappointed with the new Focus.  Have you have the opportunity to drive one yet?  If not, can you stop in this morning for a full demo and test drive or would this afternoon be better for you?  Please give me a call and I'll answer any other questions that you may have.  Thanks Mystery Shopper and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Dealership Salesman


Wow!  Same car, same shopper, same exact situation but two completely different replies.  Salesman # 2 is so upbeat and smooth and has so much forward momentum going that I’ve already forgotten about the sunroof.  He is selling urgency (…it is available.  We do however have customers looking at it) , he is selling the product (It is a beautiful vehicle and very well equipped…) and he is selling the appointment (Have you have the opportunity to drive one yet? ).  A three pointer!


In this situation, the shopper’s path of least resistance is to go with the salesman’s momentum and accept an offer for a test drive.  (In fact, I’ll bet if she was too busy to come to the store that day Salesman # 2 would bring the car to her home or office instead).

If I can find any fault in this letter (and, sadly, I must) it’s that there is no reference to price or price range.  So he loses a point for that, but otherwise, I think this is a great FQR (First Quality Response) letter.  Anyone agree?  Disagree?

I know without question that Salesman #1 was trying to be helpful and did not intend his reply to come off the way it did.  But, unfortunately, it did.
 
So here’s an idea: before we hit the “Send” button, let's pause and ask ourselves, “After he/she reads my email, what will the recipient’s path of least resistance be?  To bail on me?  Or  to go with my momentum?”

As my friend Ronnie Cohen used to say, “Are we making it easy for people to buy a car from us?”

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Charles Gallaer
Trace, thank you for these fabulous posts.

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