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Carchive Special Edition: ’89 Jaguar Salesman’s Guide

Chris Haining November 15, 2016 Cars You Should Know, The Carchive 5 Comments

I know this is not our regularly scheduled appointment, but welcome to a mid-week helping from The Carchive: special edition.

I don’t know how many of you have spent time mired in the murky waters of car sales, I’ve done my stint and am kind of pleased to be out of it. I’m ‘lucky’ enough to have only ever sold in the ‘prestige’ sector, first for BMW and later for Mercedes. During my time as a shiny suited, smooth talking, silver-tongued car-monger I trotted out line after line of beautifully scripted sales spiel, and believe it or not, in a healthy proportion of instances it returned the desired result.

Seeing this little pamphlet on eBay brought memories flooding back, so of course, I had to buy it and share it with you.

This is a “Know your product” guide for the Jaguar range of 1989. It’s the kind of thing that salesmen would have been doled out in cost-no-object training / brainwashing sessions delivered at richly carpeted corporate facilities. It’s filled with the kind of tactical moves that, you just knew, your sales manager would be watching out for signs of, from the shelter of his comfy office.

It opens up with The Six-Point Walk-Around, designed to whet customer’s appetites without them really realising it.

The page page 6/7 double spread opens the walkaround, where you stand the customer in the “being run over” position. Here you’re all set to shoot the breeze on such enthralling recommended subjects as the electric washers with heated jets, the deep section wraparound bumper with black rubber inserts and chromed top face, or the sidelights and indicators with neutral density lenses.

Deliver it naturally, though. On no account must you look like you’re just trotting through a list of components. Build up a rapport, and mention features that the customer will ‘relate’ to.

In Position ‘4’, for example. Say you know that your customer is a keen Golfist. You’ll want to mention that you can fit two sets of clubs in the XJ6’s capacious boot, which is ventilated to fend off damp, and carpeted to keep your golf bats in the best possible condition. Note, too, that said commodious chamber is amply lit, for ease of packing after those twilight golf missions.

The list of stuff that is recommended here for highlighting is a little bit daft, including a ‘manual fuel filler release in boot‘. Just the kind of thing you can easily slip into a natural conversation with a prospective client.

There’s a fair old technical section in here, which goes into some detail as regards lead-free fuel and the use thereof. The 90s in the UK and across much of Europe ushered in a new age of unleaded fuel and catalytic converters. Naturally the salesman was responsible for pointing out to his client that ‘ON NO ACCOUNT DO YOU PUT LEADED FUEL IN YOUR CATALYSED CAR.’

I wonder how many hapless sales ‘executives’ were handed substantial bills by clients who ‘weren’t adequately warned’ of how to look after their catalytic converters?

Selling cars has changed hugely in recent years. Hell, I noticed big differences during my time on the sales floor, and that was only a relatively short period of time. When I started out you could sell a ‘premium’ car more or less entirely ‘on a dream’. The customer had committed to treating themselves, and more often than not it was just a case of illustrating the myriad ways in which this car would make their life better. If the customer got The Feeling, they would buy.

As customers became more familiar with premium cars, and as their gadgets became more easily available on mass-market machinery from Korea and beyond, the features alone were no longer enough to sell the car on. While price was always important, today it dominates the sales process more than anything else.

Buyers have never been better informed. A customer can learn everything they need to online, without a salesman sweet-talking them into a deal. Deals can be found everywhere, too, and as far as a customer is usually concern, the lowest price is the best price, and it’s not something that dealer margins will always allow. The one thing that a living, breathing car salesman can provide, though, that a faceless online broker usually can’t, is a test drive. Unfortunately, such is the demanding nature of customers today, few would spare you enough of their time to listen to your six-point walkaround. They’ll take a test drive and then wave a print-out in your face that you can’t come close to matching, then buy online for what is actually probably a fairly insubstantial long-term saving.

They’ll then find problems with the car on delivery, and stroppily bring the car to their local dealer -e.g. the one you work at- to be fixed, even though you had nothing to do with supplying it. But, hey, that’s a story for another day.

Car salesmen, and service departments, have a harder time today than ever they did before. Boo Hoo, eh? Crazy as it seems, this little book is a reminder of the good old days.

(All images are of original Jaguar in-house training material for Internal Use Only, photographed by me. Copyright remains property of Jaguar Land Rover, although nowhere on the document is copyright actually claimed. Anyone seen the film ‘Suckers’? Practically a documentary)

  • Rover 1

    “Buy online for what is actually probably a fairly insubstantial long-term saving, then find problems with the car on delivery, and stroppily bring the car to your dealer to be fixed, even though you had nothing to do with supplying it. But, hey, that’s a story for another day.”

    Ooooh yes.

    This is regrettably common in all sots of retail now.

    Perhaps today is the time for these stories?

    • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

      Ah, but the dealership is compensated by the manufacturer for warranty parts & labor.

      It may not pay as much, but ‘close to as much’ is better than nuthin’.

  • Great heist from the caves of the Carchive!
    Heated washer nozzles were like 100 Deutshmarks on a Mercedes, so pointing this out was actually worth it, I guess.

    “nowhere on the document is copyright actually claimed” ah, the golden 80ies, when it was understood that you must not put these things on Instagram (or put up photocopies in malls, the then-equivalent).

  • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

    I did car sales for a Ford dealer back around 1991. I lasted 3 or 4 months at it, didn’t do badly at all, but being a finance major in college (and using this job to pay for more tuition/books my senior semesters), I couldn’t stomach selling a car to someone I know is going to be repo’d in six months. However, I wasn’t allowed to redirect them to a $7K used car instead of a $25K new one.

    Granted, every time I remember selling a new dark blue F-250 XLT 4×4 to the guy in a bathrobe and slippers…and he got off the bus outside the dealership, so being the new guy, he was my up…for cash money, I smile. Dude came back the next day (one day of prep, and this one needed it), dressed normally, and it made me even happier.

    We needed rid of the truck…I don’t know why it didn’t sell, it was the perfect farm truck out there…so this guy got a damned good deal on it with a non-existent amount of annoyance/aggravation on either side.

    • I used to love it when you got a result out of somebody the others had labelled as a timewaster.

      I had the opposite once, though – spent a good while demonstrating and driving a guy in a 645ci convertible, and then he tried to pay for it on a Blockbuster Video card. Turns out he was quite, quite mad.