Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
Salespeople are unfairly maligned
Salespeople get an unfair amount of stick for all the usual stereotypes.
I’ve had a window into their world for the last few weeks, thanks to my own stubborn pig-headedness, and frankly salespeople earn whatever they’re paid and more.
I’d been lulled over the years by the general politeness and dignity of our clients in B2B world. Sure they have their moments. But compared to general public customers, they are saints.
Backstory – I bought an electric car. The electric car company has an online trade-in system. You upload half a dozen photos of your old car, and their trade-in team emails you an offer.
An extremely dirty offer
They offered me roughly a case of beers for my six-year-old semi-prestige car. Not just a low offer. Mortal-insult low.
I can afford to take the lowball deal, and the convenience of a trade-in would have saved me a lot of valuable time. But that is not the point.
If I let them get the better of me, it’s a direct violation of all my commercial values and the annoyance would affect my mood and business performance for weeks. (Yes, this situation was brewing a few weeks back when I wrote of my epic battle over a few flight credits).
They must not win. I recognise this as a character defect. My business partner Vic is more pragmatic than me. So I asked him if there would ever be a point, no matter what our personal wealth, that it would ever be OK to let people roll us over with a dirty offer like that.
No, he said, you cannot let them win.
Mister Car Salesman sets up his leads funnel
So I knocked back the trade-in, took some nice waterfront lifestyle photos in soft evening light, and put it on carsales.com.au.
Shouldn’t be that hard. Last time I used that site I sold an Alfa and a Citroen in the same year, the Reverse 4.5 Somersault Pike of used car sales. A clean German hatchback would be simple in these car-shortage times.
Turns out no. The used shortage is over, and demand is pretty soft. Used car stocks are way up. Anecdotally, people are selling assets to avoid losing their house as interest rates skyrocket.
(Chart from Tarric Brooker)
My sales funnel was a bare trickle. I was going to have to step my sales hustle up to avoid a shameful ending to this story.
First came the lowball dealer enquiries, all from guys named Nathan. Then the public, each with questions that could be answered by reading a few words below the ad headline. This is not news to anyone who has sold anything online.
“Your car is very low quality”
What was new to me was the nonstop stream of insults. Online and in person, the buyers go into aggressive prosecutor mode.
“The rego expires soon.”
“There are several scratches.”
“There is only one key.”
“That car has a fuel consumption of 7L/100km, that’s quite thirsty.”
Other than the word thirsty, all were facts I’d included in the ad. But feel free to go off, negotiation kings.
It felt so weird. Not many buyers do this in B2B world. You don’t hear:
“Your SAS product / accounting firm / hotel / manufacturing line is, in fact, very low quality. Many of your customer service team are ugly and badly dressed. And your logo is a stupid colour. Thus, I am entitled to a hefty discount on your proposed price.”
I’m told it’s standard procedure from real estate buyers though. And it’s all based on superficial reckonings.
People who know nothing about cars staring at the engine like defects will be visible. Like so many long-cherished ceremonies, it makes no sense on any level.
How much for CA$H
Having insulted your car for a while, they decide it’s time to sweeten things a little, drip some honey on the offer after all that vinegar. They would like to know how much it will be for “cash”.
It’s a mystifying pitch. I ask, “Do you mean actual banknotes?”
None of them mean that. They are saying they will EFT you the funds.
Actual quote from a woman who had spent half an hour circling my car, pointing out small marks like I was the one who had scratched her car:
“If I was willing to transfer the money directly to your account right now, would you be willing to accept ($5K less than I’m going to accept)?”
It is amazing that people view this as the basis for a discount. Like they are the actual inventors of the electronic funds transfer, talking to a remote tribesman. Twenty years ago, before the tribesmen got satellite Samsungs.
It distils down to: “I propose to pay you for the car, in the same way everyone pays for anything in a private sale. How about that?”
I just went back and checked my enquiry data, and 72% of them used the “how much for cash” line. This campaign was going nowhere and I was beginning to take the car insults quite personally.
At last a use for Facebook
Last Friday a friend suggested I descend into the sulphuric netherworld that is Facebook Marketplace. “Join the Groups for that brand, share the ad in there, and you’ll sell it in 24 hours. You will have to deal with a lot of bots and freaks though.”
I didn’t know you could sell cars there. It’s a nightmare platform. Broken menus, links that go nowhere, conflicts between the browser and app versions that over-write your previous work. I hit the launch button, ready for the skankiest seller experience of my life.
It unleashed a swarm of fraud bots. Then, an adorable young couple who did not insult the car at all and bought it yesterday, less than a day after the ad went up. For 28% above the trade-in offer. Sorry Carsales but Zuck’s filthy market whupped your ass.
I am thankful for so much on this glorious Monday morning. The sun is shining. I’ve chalked up a win against the electric car company (their car is great btw).
But most importantly, my work is a low-stress paradise compared to trying to sell things to the general public.
To the used car-buying public, I say: thanks for a week’s blog content, you absolute freaks.
And if you do sales for a living, hats off to you. I’m so not up to that task. My respect for you could not be deeper right now.
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