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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Found this article at Autoweek.com. I think it might help to explain why the E isn't selling to Gen Y as well as Honda was hoping. It appears that from the start Honda was worried that the salespeople would scare away the Gen Yers with their typical stupid approaches. This seems to make since as I have read that advertisers as a whole have had a hard time selling in the traditional ways to Gen X & Y, who were exposed to traditional media ads from birth (not like the buy anything trendy boomers).

BTW - the salesmen I dealt with pretty much did all the things that Honda told them not to do when selling the Element.


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Don't call them 'Dude': Honda tells dealers no hard sell on Element


By MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News


LOS ANGELES -- Honda salespeople will have to avoid the hard sell and do more listening when Generation Y customers come to see the Element sport wagon.

That is the edict handed down from American Honda Motor Co. sales training managers at 21 regional day-long seminars held in November.

Honda is worried that early-20-somethings may pass Honda over for something more trendy and be lost to the brand forever. So it will try to persuade all of its salespeople to act differently when an Element buyer walks in the door.

About 6,500 Honda salespeople will be drilled in this new way of selling cars. Youthful customers will be allowed to dictate low-pressure discussions. Negotiations will not be marked with phrases such as, "Yeah, well, if you won't pay that much, that guy over there will."

Instead of a day devoted to outlining the efficiencies of the Element's VTEC engine or pillarless doors, Honda salespeople were drilled in Gen Y attitudes and beliefs. A mannequin with a TV screen for a head beamed videotaped interviews with young buyers about what car salespeople do right and wrong. Another video showed "Jerry the Goldmaster," a balding, paunchy Honda sales vet, blowing the sale by trying to be cool and marking his pitch with phrases such as, "Honda built this car just for you kids."

Salespeople also role-played with actors pretending to be Gen Y customers, with mixed success. Some had previously used the ask-and-listen method as a way to sell cars. Others were befuddled, clearly trained in a more aggressive method of pitching Hondas.

"It's time to shake them up a little," said Dave Heath, Honda senior manager of automobile sales communications. "We have great salespeople, but when you don't have enough products to sell, it tends to lead to less favorable behavior patterns."

In a J.D. Power's Sales Satisfaction Index this year, Honda dealerships scored below the industry average in providing a pleasing experience for auto shoppers.

To handle Gen Y shoppers, Honda wants its salespeople to give them space, be respectful and avoid the hard sell.

"We don't think the Gen Y customer is much different than anyone else," Heath said. "It's just that their bs meter is wound tighter."

The salespeople have a unique tool with which to work. The Element was designed by a team mostly under age 25. In addition to its curious looks, the Element is filled with youth-oriented items such as an available MP3 player with 270-watt amplifier; an interior that can be mopped out; a four-seat layout with 64 configurations; and a clamshell tailgate that can support 440 pounds when laid flat.

The Element goes on sale Dec. 19, starting at $16,560 including destination charges. It shares a platform with the CR-V sport wagon, which starts at $19,360.

Honda expects to sell 50,000 Elements in its first production year. If demand warrants, the company can make up to 70,000, spokesman Andy Boyd said.

It's clear that the product and training were male-oriented. All the trainers, and all but one of the video actors, were male.

Of the two groups attending the Los Angeles morning training session, fewer than 10 percent of the salespeople were female.

Reaction to the new methods was mixed.

"We need to learn how to work the customer, not just have product knowledge," said Rudy Dominguez, a salesman at Community Honda in Whittier, Calif. "But the main thing is still to sell the car."

Mike Swede, a salesman at Miller Honda in Culver City, Calif., is not certain how much a day of training will sink in.

"This is a real big change for a salesman who wants to control the customer," Swede said. "We really ought to have our sales managers come to this, so we don't have to translate all this to them when we get back."
 

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Thank you for the informative post but it's not complete. I have a feeling you reached the size limit on your post. Maybe it would be better to post the URL where you found the article.

An interesting read though. I'd like to see the rest! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Sorry, here is the rest and the link:

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Reaction to the new methods was mixed.

"We need to learn how to work the customer, not just have product knowledge," said Rudy Dominguez, a salesman at Community Honda in Whittier, Calif. "But the main thing is still to sell the car."

Mike Swede, a salesman at Miller Honda in Culver City, Calif., is not certain how much a day of training will sink in.

"This is a real big change for a salesman who wants to control the customer," Swede said. "We really ought to have our sales managers come to this, so we don't have to translate all this to them when we get back."

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http://www.autoweek.com/search/sear...50&Search_Type=STD&Search_ID=1396387&record=6
 

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Now that's odd. The E is my first Honda (I've owned a Saturn, Ford, and a Toyota previously), and to be honest my salesman at Conicelli Honda (Conshohocken, PA), Greg, made this shopping experience the best yet. There was "pressure", but not overly so, but he made sure to ask questions rather than dictating to me why I want the car. In truth, I'd already done a ton of research beforehand and knew I wanted one, but the fact that his sales "technique" was almost like that of a Saturn dealer impressed me.

Sounds like the training is working 8)
 

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My husband and I are 20 somethings ( 27 & 28 to be exact) and this article is very interesting....our salesman was NO pressure....we already owned a Honda (1990 Civic....classic unrestored :)) But when we went to the dealer that we bought from our salesman, John, was fabulous.....no pressure, answered all our questions, showed us all the features.....never once talked deal or sale until the third time we visited.....he gave us his card and said "Call me if you need me" we went back and bought a week or so after our initial 4 visits....he actully was surprised to see us.

We will be going back to him in the spring to replace our 1990 clasic Civic :)

We were actually at the dealer today, and John wasn't there, but the GM was and we chit chatted and my hubby sat in a suped up Civic and wanted to take it home today, but that will have to wait until next year....but they did have plenty of Es on the lot (GGs and SOPs too!!!) and we totally fell for the GG....we may become a 2 E familE!!!!!!
 

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We walked away when our first salesman pulled every old stunt in the book. Admittedly, he was an old geezer himself. Shopping via the net worked much better. Ain't no pressure if you ain't there :p
 

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The first sales guy I talked to was so passive I never went back to him. I kept waiting for him to ask me if I wanted one - and he never did! We bought it at another dealership and the sales guy was great - he got me just what I wanted and nothing more. It was the finance officer that tried the hard sell on a warranty, insurance and lojack. They need to train the finance people, too.
 

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in advance, sorry for writing the book, but i feel that my experience was good enough to write about

the whole sales team i dealt with at my dealership was amazing. as many of you know i'm right in the target demographic (25).

my first trip to the dealership was only after extensive comparison and feature shopping online, so i came into it being fairly informed.

having browsed the my local dealers' web site, i setup an appointment via phone with their internet sales manager.

when i got to the showroom, i was told that there would be a small wait. naturally, i walked over to the element on display and started "kickin' the tires." a salesman approached and asked if i was being helped. when i said i was, he asked if i would like to be shown some of the features of the e. very friendly! he was very informative, gave me a thorough tour that filled up my wait time nicely, and didnt sound at any point like he was trying to make a sale or steal me away from my appointed salesman. his enthusiasm for the car's features was very apparent.

once my salesman became available, i informed him which car i was interested in checking out. first words out of his mouth were "let's take one on a test drive. i'm sure you'll love it." while i waited, he pulled an e out front of the dealership, got out, and tossed me the keys. "you know the area? take 'er for a spin, we'll see you in 15 minutes." wow.

anyways that was all it took for me to start negotiations that day on what is now my gg ex 4wd. my first buying experience was hassle-free, and i felt like i was given the red carpet treatment- from the test drive to the closing with the sales manager.

maybe these salespeople took honda's class, or maybe they are just standouts among salespeople. i'd recommend them to my mom.

anyone interested, i purchased from McGrath Honda in Elgin, IL.
 

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Well, I guess it's up to me to be the rainmaker...

If you want to have the most appalling treatment of your life, visit Bell Honda, in Phoenix. Az.

When you pull in the lot, no shine-ola, there is a hut and gate that is representative of a Gestapo checkpoint. They assign you a place to park, and a salesman, all before you can get out of your car. Once inside, you see a pool of at least 20 salespeople, all waiting for their "up", and their personal, daily' horror stories drone in the background. Real professional..NOT! :roll:

I declaratively stated what I wanted, which was a 4wd with airbags, and some old duffer that was the "point guard" was on his way to ready a different color, w/o airbags, for the 'test drive'. I stated that I had already driven a unit, was shopping for the best price, and let's get down to business.

Then the daisy chain of bad sales techniques begain. I was passed through no less than four different people all trying their best shot. The first price I was given would have got me an H2 hummer, it was so rife with added on crap. By the time it was over, my friend who was with me considered it the most pathetic display of salesmanship ever witnessed. In addition, they denied that ANY dealer in the area had units with airbags..."OH, Nooooo...they aren't out yet, won;t be 'till Fall". I was composed, and rather than getting upset, I decided that since this wasn't going to go anywhere, I would just wait it out and be on my way.
Repeatedly they came at me, it was like the invasion of Normandy, wave after wave, they assualted.

The even more insipid thing was them barraging my business line for days after, with even two more new characters added to the cast that still insisted there were no Elements with airbags.

This is the quintessential dealership that does it ALL WRONG. Poor tactics, extreme pressure, talk rather than listen, denegrate.

Valley of the Sun residents would do well to cross these guys off your shopping list, unless you are masochistic.

If so, you'll feel right at home.
 
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