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Old 21st October 2021, 10:24   #1
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Default Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

I was out for buying a car and have TD several cars from different brands in the past one year. The hunt still continues as now I am doing the same for my sister in Hyderabad. One observation which has been really frustrating or irritating is the limited knowledge of SAs about the cars in their showroom. I am not sure if it's just a limited knowledge factor or outright ignorance but the same isn't limited to any specific brand but valid across multiple instances and cities.

One recent example, we had TD the MG Astor 1.3L AT in Bangalore and were fairly impressed with the car. Now, my sister wanted to TD the CVT version before making a final decision and decided to go ahead with the CVT version booking. Astor offers a few interior options for Sharp variants and she wanted to book the DT iconic ivory. However, the SA claimed that right now only sangria red is available for booking (extra 10k). Being a TBHP member, I had done my homework and I informed her that Astor Sharp 1.5L CVT variant has only one interior option - DT Iconic Ivory and she went ahead with the booking.

Such experiences not only misguide a potential customer but the experience also puts them off to a certain extent. As mentioned earlier, this is not an isolated incident, but based on my interaction with SAs from Tata, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, etc. In the past one year, there always has been a lot of unanswered questions/misguided information about features of a car which forced me to do the required research at my end before finalising a car!

I understand that brands are dealing with multiple launches every year but how difficult is it to keep yourself updated about all the cars in your showroom especially when that is a part of your job description. Would love to understand the thoughts of fellow BHPians and their experiences on this observation. Looking forward to an interesting discussion!
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Old 21st October 2021, 10:46   #2
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

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Originally Posted by Varun_G View Post
Looking forward to an interesting discussion!
Basically, such things are bound in any verticals regardless of whom we deal with, it's the knowledge & experience of the person whom we deal with.

Being a BHPian, obviously our knowledge on automobiles are significantly higher than the commuter generic population in which most folks basically care for are...
  • Whether my car is bigger than my neighbors
  • Whether my car yields highest possible FE
  • Whether the AC makes us shiver
  • Whether the car & color attracts everyone on the road
  • Whether the service costs are affordable

While some of the enthusiasts here care a little less on the above while giving importance to factors such a P2WR, GC, Torque, ASC reliability, tire & engine spec...basically sales vs ownership. We're able to think beyond the sale & look into the larger pie of ownership life which is what separates us from the crowd. Also we're a mob who learn out of sheer enthusiasm, while most folks at ASC learn because they're employed. So that should obviously put us much ahead of most folks there

Ever talked to a mechanic working inside the ASC? I'm more than positive we would learn a thing or two very positively every time we meet them. Reason being, their hands on experience is far superior to our hands on keyboard experience. And anytime we meet an engineer from the manufacturer themselves, they'll blow our mind. Point being depends on whom we meet at car dealership

Last but not the least, we might think the person at ASC is dumb enough not to know about the cars/bikes/scooters they're selling or the competitors, however, if we try to look beyond the role of his/her job, they should be actually a Phd in some other vertical where we're not even qualified in kindergarten.

But yes, I get your point, people who're employed are supposed to know more & better than customers visiting them, but then, are we average customers?

Last edited by Rudra Sen : 21st October 2021 at 16:17. Reason: edited
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Old 21st October 2021, 10:52   #3
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

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Originally Posted by Varun_G View Post
Would love to understand the thoughts of fellow BHPians and their experiences on this observation. Looking forward to an interesting discussion!
While I don't have direct experience with a SA for Cars as I don't buy new cars, I have had good experience with Dealers and they know their shit well enough to give anyone a run for their money.

Coming back to SA's knowledge - This I believe is intentional - either by themselves or by their local leadership. They are only and only driven to sell you a car with highest margin or ready availability to meet their immediate next quarter targets. All this ignorance and intentional lying is purposeful so that the customer signs off the dotted line that day itself rather than wait for a few weeks for the right model to arrive or get distorted by lack of options they have in mind.

Party to this behavior is the fact that many customers are also not really keen on the details. Most have their priorities set on Size, Color, Bling and Brand Name. Actual useful features and options inside the car are not very important to most. SAs know this and hence don't focus on those aspects as it is unlikely to yield into a sale.
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:02   #4
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

I attribute 25 to 30% of this to ignorance or lack of knowledge of SA. In Majority cases, SA will be well aware of the facts. But, they try to push the deals by telling lies just to
1. Increase their commissions
2. Increase the profit for dealership
3. Achieve their monthly targets.


For instance, in your case, if SA had to book iconic ivory, probably, he had to order and get it from factory which may take more than 15 days. In those 15 days, from his angle,
1. Anything can happen to customers decision of purchasing his brand
2. His targets may not be achieved for the month.
3. What would happen to the existing red car in his inventory?

So, since there are uncertainties in this deal, easiest mitigation plan is to say, that feature comes only in red and sell it off. They are ok to take the certificate of "SA is ignorant" rather than "wasting" time and money on a deal with so many uncertainties.

Finally, as they say, व्यापारं द्रोह चिन्तनम्

Business is all about betrayal, violation of a presumptive contract, trust.

Last edited by gkveda : 21st October 2021 at 11:06.
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:07   #5
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

Well Sir,

I would like to add an experience. I was at the Nexa Kolkata showroom to have a look at the Ciaz and the S Cross.

Me: The car is nice, but if the 1.6 diesel was still in production, would go right ahead and buy this car right now.
SA: Sir, for your yearly usage, you don't really need a diesel. Also Sir, S Cross only had a 1.3 diesel, not a 1.6.
Me: Umm, I am pretty sure that it had a 1.6 that was known for its power and 320Nm of torque.
SA: Sir, even the 1.5 l petrol (which is currently the only engine in the S Cross ) is extremely powerful.
Me: What's the horsepower figure?
SA: 177 BHP
Me: Oh, Ok.

I leave the showroom and start going through the brochure. Turns out that the real horsepower figure is only 77 BHP.......

Quite a funny experience. Never expected the SA to be this uniformed.

Cheers,
D
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:16   #6
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

For starters I have to confess I misunderstood the thread title when I opened it. By SA I typically assume "Service Advisor" so thought this is about technically unaware service advisors when visiting the ASC.

The sales teams - I believe are "Sales Executives"? And when it comes to these sales teams - I feel its not really a recent trend at all. They have been this way more or less since quite a long while now. Its just that now the cars have started getting too many variants, too many features (and the mix-and-match in variants) across brands. The automakers also constantly revise/refresh their car trim configurations throughout the year. Previously - cars were sold as-is for literally years. With time the sales execs used to get sufficient knowledge.

Today they appear more confused (add to that their own job hops across brands) and get totally bewildered with more aware customers asking questions with prior knowledge via the internet. They tend to respond rather indifferently then and get into that "buy it if you want, I'm done reading my standard lines" attitude soon .
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:21   #7
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwaipayan26 View Post
Well Sir,

I would like to add an experience. I was at the Nexa Kolkata showroom to have a look at the Ciaz and the S Cross.

<snip>

Me: What's the horsepower figure?
SA: 177 BHP
Me: Oh, Ok.

I leave the showroom and start going through the brochure. Turns out that the real horsepower figure is only 77 BHP.......


Cheers,
D
The 1.5L Petrol in Ciaz and S-Cross has more than 100bhp power. I would suggest you kindly check for the correct brochure.


One from my end, again from Kolkata. Yesterday, I was talking to one SA of Suzuki motorcycles. I was telling her that I'm considering both Apache RTR200 and Gixxer 250.
SA: Sir, Gixxer goes up to 9300rpm
Me: well, what?
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:37   #8
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

Common trend across industries and sectors I think. In a growing economy (actually, does ours still qualify as one with the downturn of the past 2 years?), you need to keep hiring just to keep the business volumes coming in. As such, the quality of new hires will go down. With companies across industries cutting down on training and outsourcing HR to keep costs down, bad hires and low quality hiring is inevitable. Employee loyalty is also not a given anymore, so again companies will think twice about spending too much on entry-level employees at least. Add to this the generous doses of confidence any fresher these days has- irrespective of whether that is backed up with any real knowledge or competence (in fact it's quite often inversely propotional - the lesser one knows, the more confident one seems!) and you get low quality entry-level people across the board. (And quite often at the VP or CEO-levels too! )
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:38   #9
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwaipayan26 View Post
Me: What's the horsepower figure?
SA: 177 BHP
Me: Oh, Ok.
The SA probably mis-took kW as bhp and 77 as 177. The SCross brochure states power figure of 77kW which is roughly 103 bhp.
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:39   #10
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

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Originally Posted by gkveda View Post

For instance, in your case, if SA had to book iconic ivory, probably, he had to order and get it from factory which may take more than 15 days. In those 15 days, from his angle,
1. Anything can happen to customers decision of purchasing his brand
2. His targets may not be achieved for the month.
3. What would happen to the existing red car in his inventory?

So, since there are uncertainties in this deal, easiest mitigation plan is to say, that feature comes only in red and sell it off. They are ok to take the certificate of "SA is ignorant" rather than "wasting" time and money on a deal with so many uncertainties.

Finally, as they say, व्यापारं द्रोह चिन्तनम्

Business is all about betrayal, violation of a presumptive contract, trust.
The funny thing is, Sangria Red Interiors is not even an option for Astor Sharp 1.5L CVT variant and the SA was trying to force-fit the same during the booking
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Old 21st October 2021, 11:55   #11
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

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Originally Posted by Reinhard View Post
For starters I have to confess I misunderstood the thread title when I opened it. By SA I typically assume "Service Advisor" so thought this is about technically unaware service advisors when visiting the ASC.
I thought the same, I think we(me included) need to refer and update our abbreviations list (Commonly used Acronyms & Abbreviations on Team-BHP) so we're on the same page, literally

Will report this post to catch mods attention.
MODS : Sales Representative/Executive(SR/SE) would be more apt IMO and avoid conflicts, please add if approved.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varun_G View Post
I understand that brands are dealing with multiple launches every year but how difficult is it to keep yourself updated about all the cars in your showroom especially when that is a part of your job description.
The probability of getting someone knowledgeable is based on two factors :
- personal interest of the SR in most cases
- training/control by the company in rare cases, unfortunately

I think they're there to facilitate the process, at least that's what I expect.
Out of experience I don't really pay much attention to them but I have observed from my limited experiences that the general competency/interest in the job has been going down and not just in automotive. But most likely I am wrong due to very limited exposure and hope so too.

Responsibility rests with the company, I get an excellent SR/service at Titan but very different at TML showrooms(recent episodes), both being part of the same company having products appealing to a variety of economic groups.
I understand the technical complexities of cars is different but the attitude is the same. My VW showroom experience has been exemplary even when I didn't buy their car. MSIL has been good in one and poor in another dealership. Hyundai has been good but this was pre-Creta days, not sure how much control they have now

IMO all depends on the management, local or company.
Having said that I don't understand how difficult it is for the company/dealers to just mandate a brochure-in-hand rule.
Every SR should have dedicated brochures of all models they're responsible for, in a file, and for any queries which they don't know, they have to look in the brochure and answer that.
On job learning doesn't get better than this and the customers will be happy to have someone spend time and effort on their queries as well.
Not to forget the knowledge and the attitude(learning) gain for the SR themselves.

But in the end its different priorities/outlook/approach/motivation of the management involved.

Last edited by shancz : 21st October 2021 at 12:21. Reason: better wording
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Old 21st October 2021, 12:18   #12
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

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Originally Posted by 7000plusrpm View Post
The 1.5L Petrol in Ciaz and S-Cross has more than 100bhp power. I would suggest you kindly check for the correct brochure.
Sorry,
Turns out that the S Cross produces 77kW of power which equates to 103.259 BHP.
In my head, I had misplaced the kW with BHP.

But even then, that's a whole 73.741 HP ( ) less than what was claimed by the SA (or rather the SE)

Thanks,
D
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Old 21st October 2021, 12:31   #13
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

I had a bad experience with an SA at Infinity BMW Worli. She was unenthusiastic, slow and misinformed. I was looking at the 330i, both the Sport and M Sport variants. She told me that the Sport didn't come with the Digital Instrument cluster, would have a smaller infotainment screen and no apple car play when in fact a few weeks earlier they had updated the car with those features. I felt like I knew more about the car than she did. When I asked her to confirm certain things, she was unsure about it herself. She lacked the personality of a sales person, the enthusiasm to sell a driver enthusiast car or the knowledge of working at her own dealership.

I understand if the SA is not up to date at a brand with a large variety of variants and models, but when you work at BMW I expect a certain level of competency. It's not like they're selling thousands of cars or have 10 variants per model.

I reached out to another Infinity branch and complained about her which then resulted in them assigning me the Manager at Infinity Worli and overall the experience was much much better.

On the flip side when I was looking at the A35 AMG the SA was fantastic, extremely enthusiastic, prompt and very knowledgable. If it wasn't for the much higher price, I would've leaned on Merc simply for the SA experience. It goes to show that SAs can have a significant impact on buyers experience and actually attract buyers that may be on the fence.
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Old 21st October 2021, 12:47   #14
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

I believe it's the training standards. They are trained possibly, to just get the job done. The focus seems to be more on the fancy looking DRL's, the touchscreen AVN units and the speakers at the moment which is what the customers are looking for rather than what's under the bonnet and how the ride is. Before Honda killed the Civic, I took several test drives as I was keen on buying it and not a single sales advisor was aware of the fact that the Indian Civic wasn't equipped with the speed sensing auto door lock. Based on my limited interactions, I feel only about 2 out of 5 sales advisors I've come across have genuine interest in automobiles , rest are all generic sales persons.
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Old 21st October 2021, 12:50   #15
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Default re: Recent Trend = Increasing ignorance & limited knowledge of Sales Advisors

While I agree on the incompetency part, I'm not really surprised to see it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shancz View Post
Out of experience I don't really pay much attention to them but I have observed from my limited experiences that the general competency/interest in the job has been going down and not just in automotive. But most likely I am wrong due to very limited exposure and hope so too.
I don't think it is going down, but rather a consequence of increased customer expectation. The ease with which everyone can access information (whether reliable or not) in this digital age, most customers believe they are well-informed themselves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reinhard View Post
I feel its not really a recent trend at all. They have been this way more or less since quite a long while now. Its just that now the cars have started getting too many variants, too many features (and the mix-and-match in variants) across brands.

Today they appear more confused (add to that their own job hops across brands) and get totally bewildered with more aware customers asking questions with prior knowledge via the internet. They tend to respond rather indifferently then and get into that "buy it if you want, I'm done reading my standard lines" attitude soon .
I absolutely agree with Reinhard on this point. The flurry of new launches/variants further complicates things for them.

And If I look closely, I personally don't see them having any incentive to know stuff. They'll either come across customers:
  1. who are totally unaware to even know the executive doesn't know his/her stuff.
  2. who know the stuff in detail. In that case the executive knows he/she is much less likely to influence the decision of such buyer in a realistic scenario.
Doesn't hurt them in either case. And even if we are to look at proportion of both these categories, the first category will constitute most of the buyers today.
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