Salesmanship Part 2

What can I tell you?

fly 150Since I spend a lot of time using two-wheeled transportation, I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a motor scooter; something to fill in the gap between “too far to peddle” and ” I really need to use the car”.  It happens that there’s a Vespa dealership, Vespa St. Louis,  along the route where I usually ride, so yesterday I stopped in to get some information.

When I walked into the shop, the only person there, the owner, was on the phone.  He made said he’d be right with me, and sure enough, he quickly ended his call.  He walked over to me and said, “What can I tell you?” I’ve been in literally thousands of retail businesses in my life, but this was a new approach.  “What  can I tell you?”

Think about it.  It wasn’t the ever-lame “Can I help you?”  which always gets the same response, “No thanks, just looking”, even if the customer has come into the shop, money in hand, fulling intending to buy something.  As the Wendy’s comercials say, this was “waaaay better”.  The ball was squarely in my court.  Even if I just wanted to use the rest room, I had to engage this guy in conversation.

I thought for a few seconds and said, “Why should I buy a $4,000 Vespa instead of a Chinese bike that costs half as much?”  That was all he needed.  First he asked me, “Do you want to spend your time riding your scooter or working on it?”  The answer is obvious.  Then he went on to explain all the things that make the Italian bikes superior to the Asian ones.

I didn’t buy anything (this trip) but by knowing his product, and his competitors’, he pretty much put me out of the market for the cheaper machines.   I mentioned that I had been looking on Craig’s List and he spent some time showing me what to look for if I decide to go with a used scooter.  And, if I did find a super deal on something used, he explained all things his service department offers and invited me to bring any model into his shop for repairs.

I was looking for something small for a number of reasons, mostly price.  He pointed out to me that larger engines actually get better gas mileage and last longer because they don’t have to work as hard.  That means higher resale-value and lower total cost of ownership.  Interesting point, and something that I would never have considered.

Bottom line, this was a level of salesmanship that you don’t find so often today.  As I mentioned yesterday, a local car dealer is having trouble hiring people because they don’t want to work hard, even in a job where the harder you work the more money you make.

In the case of the Vespa shop, the owner had obviously done his home work.  He led with a great opening question and obviously had an answer ready for the most common responses.  He knows Vespa and he knows the other brands as well.

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