What’s the one thing every executive in a big car company has in common? Easy, none of them buy cars. Sometimes these people are so far away with the fairies that you have to send out Tinkerbell to tell them dinner’s ready. Take the factory exercise we just went through when those geniuses at the factory decided we didn’t know enough about selling to women.
They sent this woman around who they touted as an “expert in the female market” to tell us all what we doing wrong. I started getting annoyed when she told us women were different (we didn’t know that?) and I started getting angry when she told us that by the time she’d made up her mind, the average female customer knew more about the car than the average salesperson (who only deals with the product five and a half days a week). What brought the explosion was when she put a series of hypotheticals to us. Specifically the one about colour availability.
What would you do, she asked my sales staff and I, if a woman came in wanting to buy a car today, but didn’t like any of the colours you had in stock? Would you try to change her mind about a stock colour, tell her you could get one in a colour she liked in however long it would take and ask for a deposit, or press a colour chart into her hand, along with your business card, and ask her to give you a call when she’d made up her mind? Most of my people went for the first option, a few of them went for the second. The only person who thought the third option was a good idea was the woman giving the lecture.
When she started telling us why we had got it all wrong it was time to speak my mind. I said: “Lady, every person in this room knows that if a woman came in here wanting to buy a car right now, and they let her out the door without getting either a signature or a deposit, I’d fire them on the spot. If she walks out that door she isn’t going to stop until she finds a dealership that has the colour she wants, and then they’ll get the sale and we won’t.” Then I finished the meeting.
Sure there are some nice people working at the factory but when it comes to the retail end of the business they’re all buttheads. I wish they’d just leave it to us.


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