I hadn’t been at BMW very long, all the other Salesmen had been there a while and everyone who walked through the door seemed to be known to them, I was trying to build up my customer base the only other way I knew how by hitting the telephone and calling prospects who weren’t allocated to my colleagues.
I was working through the “B’s” when a particularly abrupt guy answered the phone “What?” he snarled, “Hello my name is Barrie I’m calling from ### ####### the BMW Dealer where you bought your 735”. He Interrupted me and I thought he was going to give me a telling off for ringing as a couple of others had done but to my surprise, his demeanor had changed and he said “Good, I’ve been meaning to call you, I want to order a 750 i L in Metallic Blue, Grey Leather, Bigger Wheels and every extra they do, Send a Purchase Invoice to my Secretary!” then he just put the phone down.
This was too easy and I thought he was winding me up but I related my story to one of the longest-serving guys and he recalled that Mr B had done exactly the same when he ordered his first car, I thought the longer serving Salesman was winding me up too but just on the off chance he was telling the truth I began writing out an order form and working through the BMW price list when I got down to the Bigger Alloy Wheels they were a £1500 extra cost option but there was an asterisk beside the price denoting that they weren’t available on the Limousine version.
I had gleaned that my customer was a Man of few words and he knew what he wanted, he also sounded like he was used to getting what he wanted, so rather than go back to him with the bad news I rang BMW to see if they would make an exception for an old customer and me a desperate salesman, they told me under no circumstances would they fit the larger wheels to a Limousine, when I inquired if it was a safety aspect they said “No” it was due to the extra road noise they created which penetrated the soundproofing of the cabin, Limousine owner usually had a Chauffeur and was usually more worried about comfort than appearance as all they wanted was to sit in the back electronically controlled and heated seat with the six inches of extra legroom the Limo version afforded so they could count their money in Peace and Quiet.
I rang Mr B back he answered the phone “Good God, what do you want now?” I explained
that BMW wouldn’t supply a Limo with the Big wheels, and again Mr B Surprised me with his answer he took the news a lot calmer than I expected, “No Problem he said! “ but then he added the Coupe de grace “I’ll buy a Mercedes Instead” I couldn’t let it slip through my fingers so thinking on my feet, I said “Now hold on there Mr B you didn’t let me finish, I was just ringing to make you aware that the wheels on your car wouldn’t be factory fitted and that we would have to fit them at the Dealership” Phew, I was quite proud of myself for what I considered to be a great save, but then he started into a rant, “Look Just Do It, Don’t waste my time, Do you know how much I charge an hour, Young Man (I was then)? It’s more than you make in a month. I don’t want to hear from you until the car is ready for collection” What an arrogant #### I thought, I felt like telling him that it hadn’t taken me an hour to sell him the car, my firm would be making about £10,000, and I was on a rather generous commission package so he must be making a fortune, but instead, I bit my tongue.
Our Parts Department always did their best to squeeze every last penny out of the Sales Department, today was to be no exception, we were their best customers and they knew we were a captive audience we couldn’t take our business elsewhere. I went to see how much the wheels would cost hoping to try and do a deal with the old wheels but they would have none of it, the Parts Manager was all smiles when he came back with a figure, for New Alloy Wheels, New Larger Tyres, Fitting, Balancing etc £6000.00 I nearly choked, So did Mr B when he came to pick his car up and saw the invoice, it soon became clear that he was usually so busy he just signed everything that his Secretary put under his nose without reading it, he had sent his completed Purchase Invoice back by return, but he had decided that now when he had already paid for it and was taking delivery of his new car now would be a good to time to scrutinise the Invoice, the price of his wheels had caught his eye and he launched into another rant, this time it was me who interrupted him, “Mr B I would have called you but you made it very clear that you didn’t want to hear from me till the car was ready for collection”
There wasn’t much else he could say.