I recently had a couple of experiences in a car dealership that made me look back on the above distinction. It may seem somewhat demeaning to refer to someone as an “order taker” but there is a big difference between a sales person who develops a market within a prospective client’s operation and goes on to make that market cost effective and save the client money, while in many cases, improving his or her overall processing. This is selling.
I was in a dealership recently waiting for my car to be repaired. I approached a man by the name of Frank and asked him if he could give me a price on a car. Well Frank was eager to sit down at his PC and run through all the options that I was asking about. As soon as Frank had most of the information, he headed into the mysterious sales manager’s office to have his figures blessed. Frank came out and handed me a business card, which of course was not his, with a total figure “out the door” for the car that I was inquiring about. Now, I asked him if he had a business card, and Frank mentioned that he was using these cards until his came in. I figured Frank was either new to the operation or he was on his way out. Turned out I was right. Frank was on his way out.
A few weeks went by and no one from the dealership contacted me so I called to see what was happening with Frank. The telephone receptionist said that “Frank no longer works her.” Well, the next thing I know I am talking to a Tiffany. I stated that I was not sure if I wanted to buy the car as I had originally indicated or lease it for 36 months. Tiffany and I went through all the steps over again that I had done with Frank. Tiffany mentioned that she needed “a little time” to work up the monthly lease cost and that she would get back to me as soon as she could.
I am not sure if it was a cost effective measure or not but all the salespersons were using their own personal cell phones to make sales calls. Now I waited a couple of days to talk again with Tiffany with no luck. I looked at my incoming telephone register and I had a lot of “caller unknown” calls which didn’t surprise me. What I suspect is that Tiffany, being a professional order taker, felt that if she placed a call to me, it was my responsibility to figure out which one of the dozens of calls were swamp salesmen from Boca Raton, Florida and which call was from Tiffany. I don’t think it ever dawned on Tiffany to leave a message for me, saying “This is Tiffany, Mr. Wittmer, and I have your lease price, please call me,”
Somewhere I recently read that the average life of a car salesman at a specific dealership was about 18 months in total. I am not sure how much an average car salesperson makes per year but I suspect that it is not as high as we think. Maybe, due to the low wages, the dedication and sales techniques are lacking. Frank and Tiffany worked in an area 50 by 40 with cubicles surrounding the new cars. They stand and wait for customers to enter the dealership. They may leave the dealership if they spot a customer showing some interest in a car in the front lot. Basically, they wait to see if they can write and process an order. Good order takers.