Customer Service Lesson

Picture this, I walk in to a car dealership one day to look around and see if there’s a car on the lot that might interest me. Standing there looking around and here comes the sales associate that will be working with me.  He asks me how I’m doing and we do the normal small talk for a few minutes and then I’m asked what I’m looking for. He seems very nice and say’s he believes he has a model that will be perfect for me. He walk’s me over to where the car is. It looks real nice, right color, right model and the price seems to be just about what I think I can afford. He proceeds to tell me what’s under the hood and the options the car comes with. You won’t believe what happens next!

I let him know that I’m very interested but would like to take it for a drive. His response stunned me, he wanted to know if I could afford the car and would I be willing to commit to buying it right now and close the deal within 2 weeks before taking it for a drive. Wow, this has never happened to me before. When I told him I could not do that without first driving it and then in all probability I would go home to think about it, he stopped the sales process immediately. He told me there was no sense in him continuing until he was confident that I had the means to pay for the car and give him a commitment to buy within a two-week time period. That was it, no test drive, no more info from this sales associate. Needless to say I left the lot and will never return to that dealership again.

You might say this could never happen. Well the scenario I outlined above did not really happen to me but I used it to show how completely ludicrous this would seem to anyone out there. Here’s the reason for the story, believe it or not this exact experience did happen to me but not in a car dealership, it happened by phone, let me explain. I own Ink & Toner Solutions, a company that sells eco-friendly ink & toner, and provides printer and PC repair services.  I had heard about a company that had a service product that sounded very interesting so I researched the company online and noticed a button that said “Free Demo”. I click the tab, fill out the info and I set up a date & time for the demo. When I’m on the demo, the sales rep tells me there would be two demos because one hour is not enough time to explain the whole product. So we go through the first demo and we set a time for the second. This really looks like something I can us in my business. I was informed at that time that the entire amount for the software & training would have to be paid up front.  I told the sales rep I could not do this due to cash flow and was there another way? She said she would talk to her supervisor and have an answer for me at the next demo.

We don’t get more than 5 minutes into the second demo when she ask me if I can pay for the product. I told her I first needed to know what she and her supervisor came up with for terms which she proceeded to tell me. I informed her that I could afford it but I would have to check a few things and get back to her assuming we would continue with the demo. After all isn’t that what sales is, showing the customer everything about a product so they will want to buy? That was not good enough for her, she wanted a commitment to buy that minute and to purchase and pay within 30 day’s! When I told her I can’t give her that on the phone this minute she stopped the demo and told me to call back when I was prepared to buy.

This is the worst salesmanship I have ever seen. Instead of understanding that I could not pull the trigger that minute and continuing with the demo she pulled the plug. How can a customer make an informed decision with out all the facts? Isn’t a demo just that, to show a customer enough of the product so that they will make a decision to buy, you don’t stop the process in the middle and demand to get a commitment to buy before continuing the demo, it’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. I really do think that this product would be very beneficial to my company but do I want to buy from a company that treats potential customers like this? I will be writing the CEO of this company to let him know how I feel. This has to be the number one way I can think of for losing a sale, attempt to push the customer into buying before they are ready. You always give the customer all of the information they need about your product or service and then step back and let them make a decision. In my opinion, behavior like this for a sales person is completely unacceptable, period. What was she thinking? Is this condoned by the owners? I hope not. Depending on the response I get from the CEO will determine if I buy or not. If I had a sales person like this I would fire them!

Have you ever had a bad customer service experience? How about sharing it with the rest of us, maybe some of these reps will read them and get a glimpse of how we feel about them.

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