BMW v LEXUS: A tale of two sales systems
This week I was fortunate enough to go new car shopping. My existing Lexus IS250 is coming out of lease next month so I need to buy another car, a little bit better than my current car, as a bit of a treat. After doing some desktop research I decided upon two brands – a BMW 3 series and the Lexus IS range. This is a review of my experience with two very different approaches from the luxury car makers.
When I entered the car lot I was impressed by the amount of vehicles on display, the fitout of the store and how it reeked of luxury and money.
I spent about 10 minutes walking the floor, looking at cars and getting a feel for pricing and what type of car you got for your money. During my wander I saw a lot of sales people, assistants, managers and customers on the floor but no-one approached me. I was just about to leave when a guy limped up to me to ask if I was being looked after. I said no and that I was about to change over my Lexus and was looking at a BMW 3 series as a potential replacement. He said no problems and then went over to an area were 2-3 sales people were chatting and got one to come over to chat to me.
I went through my spiel again about how I needed to change over a car (there was no handover from the Manager!), I drive a bit for work so I wanted some luxury, but I don’t know (or care) much about cars. The sales person then recommended a BMW 323i to me and then spoke about its technical benefits and what makes a BMW special.
I then went through a process of walking the floor, inside and outside, while he valued my car, showed me versions of the car that I should consider (but not the one that he recommended), spent some time sitting in a stark office and eventually he gave me a price while all the time trying to close me. Eventually I left with a price near $80,000 and a low trade-in for my car.
There were a couple of things that went wrong during this sales experience:
- No sales person approached me while I was wandering the floor, they were hanging out together and I didn’t feel comfortable to approach
- The sales person didn’t hang out with me to find out about my needs, to become my friend, to understand the true features and benefits I needed
- The right to ask for the sale was never achieved
When I returned back to work I got a phone call to say that the car could be mine for $69,000 – a $11,000 drop in 30 minutes. It got me interested again, but not on value, only on price.
When I walked onto the Lexus showroom floor I was acknowledged immediately by a sales person via a standard Friedman walk by. Hello, how are you and then left to have a look at the models. After a few minutes the sales person returned and started a conversation about the lovely day and what were my plans for the day. I said that I was taking my wife to lunch and had a few minutes to spare to look for a replacement car. I was asked what I wanted and said that I was keen on the luxury version of my IS250. He enquired about the IS350 and if I was keen to have a look. I said why not, but that I won’t buy one. The IS350 had all the features that I wanted for an extra $5,000 over the IS250, so I started getting interested.
Rather than running through all the technical information that I don’t care about he spent time showing me how comfortable it would be, the power in the engine and the extra features. Because he had spent time hanging out with me he knew how to get me interested.
As he knew that I needed to take my wife to lunch he invited me back for a drive, whenever I wanted.
I called him a few days later and I took up the offer for a test drive. When I entered the dealership he said g’day, handed me the keys and let me go for a drive. No forms, no paperwork, no issues. When I returned he had a price on my trade-in. I said thanks but I wanted to drive the BMW. He agreed and said for me to call him after my test drive.
The difference between the two sales experiences is that the Lexus dealer knew that his car was better than a BMW for me as he understood my needs – a comfortable car with power enough to get me out of trouble. He also understood that I am a quick shopper; I don’t want to spend hours waiting or test driving, just get me in and out quickly.
He also intrinsically knew the Friedman sales system and used each step to get me involved into the purchase.
Friedman Sales System
The Friedman system comprises of 8 steps, which were effectively used by the Lexus sales person:
1. Precheck – making sure that you are ready to sell & that the store is presentable
2. Opening the Sale:
• Acknowledge every customer
• 180 degree Walk Pass – this is acknowledging the customer, but walking past them rather than approaching asking ‘can I help you’ which always gets a ‘no,
• Non-business related opening – breaking the ice to build rapport, as simple as saying ‘that’s a nice watch you have, where did you buy it?’ This is known as hanging out
• Moving into business – saying ‘so, what brings you into the store today?’
3. Probing – finding out about the customer & their needs to match a product
4. Demonstration – selling the value that the customer wants
5. Trial Close – getting the sale by adding on another product
6. Handling Objections – investigating what is the issue, working through any price objection and using the objection to close the sale
7. Closing – identifying buying signals, earning the right to ask for the sale and then asking for the sale and closing techniques
8. Confirmations & Invitations
The difference is that when someone uses the Friedman system the purchase becomes a pleasurable experience and you reduce buyers remorse. Using other systems (or no system) can aggravate a customer and make the experience no pleasure whatsoever.
You may have guessed it...I bought a Lexus IS350. The sales person not only got the sale but upgraded my purchase into a more expensive option. The cost of the Lexus was more than the BMW, but it suited my needs much better and I am much happier with my purchase.
Lexus should be proud of their sales team, their professionalism and the support people that they employ. All are friendly and responsive – even making hot chocolate for my 10 year old while we waited to sign up the deal.
The Friedman sales system is really powerful and can get results like you have never seen in Retail, Sales and Customer Service!