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Posted: February 01, 2011

On management: In a changing world, three rules for sales success

What to do when the customer is unsure

Pat Wiesner

"You will never find a finer company than this," the salesman on the other end of the line said. "Not only are we really nice people, we'll get your car to Florida in just five days, and save you a lot of money to boot.

"Why don't you let me shoot you a copy of our D&B and the name of a website where you can check what our customers think of our services," he continued. "So that you make the right decision, Pat, give me your e-mail address, and I'll send you a couple of links that will help you decide which is the best, most reliable and safest auto carrier to get your car to Fort Lauderdale."

So I did. But that was my second mistake. All it did was load me up with propaganda that I couldn't check out, info that overloaded my ability to make a decision and make me feel that I had no idea how to pick a good company from a choice on the Internet.

My first mistake was choosing a site that promised to put me in contact with a number of car shippers (I think 10) and guaranteeing that I would get a solid quote from each right away. They were right. I was buried in quotes, info, e-mails and phone calls for the rest of that day and the next morning.

Nothing bad - just too much data and no way to make a decision. All I wanted to do was get my car to Fort Lauderdale, where my wife and I are going to spend a couple of months this summer. What was wrong with the system that looked so good because it was going to provide all this comparability was that I got cost estimates from $350 to just short of $1,000; time estimates from five days to 15 en route; and all sorts of different ideas about things like where the pickup would be, where the drop-off, insurance, amount of deposit and when, who was a broker, who was a carrier, the difference, etc., etc. I honestly wondered if I was going to have to just guess what was best for us.

And the items to consider didn't tie together the way they could have to make things easier. For example, the $1,000 price tag was not connected to the quickest trip to Florida for my car. Actually, after looking at all the snappy websites and listening to all the good sales info, I was often surprised at the actual quote. I couldn't easily tie the benefits to the cost.

Was I finally saved? You bet! How? What you would expect ... by a really good salesman! If I had been left to make my own decision from the info on the Internet I would have done it, but I never would have felt good about it.

By the way, the majority of the salespeople I talked to were very good. My impression was that they spent all of their time on the phone and had developed a comfort with it, being really honest and personable.

The guy who finally sold me was the same plus a little. I was explaining my data overload to him and he said, "OK, why don't you just take your time and ask me all your questions?" I thought, "Here we go again." And off we went.

"How does this business work?" I said.

He explained how brokers get a commission and truckers get the rest of the price to deliver the car.
He explained how if the trucker is not making much money, your delivery date might suffer.
He explained that the average industry price for a good job was between $750 and $900 including the broker commission and all other charges.
He explained a lot of things for about 20 minutes, until I ran out of questions.
He did the best job of following ...

1. Take care of the customer.
2. Take care of the customer.
3. Take care of the customer.

And I bought.

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Pat Wiesner is the retired CEO of WiesnerMedia, publisher of ColoradoBiz. He still leads sales training for the company. E-mail him at

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Readers Respond

Great example, Pat. In order to take care of the customer, you have to understand their needs, which is difficult to automate. I've experienced the same frustration with everything from insurance quotes to office equipment. The internet often sends me running in search of a knowledgeable salesperson who can put their own agenda aside for a moment and help me sort through the reams of information. By Julie Hansen on 2011 02 08

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