What’s the problem with Mercedes sales people?

There are words that have historically been associated with  people who sell used cars – pushy, sleazy, arrogant, slippery, devious and generally willing to do and say anything to make a sale.

A friend of mine, June, is currently going through the process of purchasing a previously owned Mercedes and based on her experience of dealing with sales people at four different Mercedes dealerships I don’t think any of the above words and phrases are applicable.

At the first 3 dealerships actually selling a car doesn’t appear to be on the agenda as her experience has been completely underwhelming as she has been faced with either a lack of communication or complete disinterest when actually speaking to someone. The chap at the fourth dealership has provided a complete contrast with her describing the service as professional, polite, passionate, knowledgeable, reliable and empathetic. Unsurprisingly June has chosen to purchase the vehicle from the fourth dealership despite it costing her a little more.

So where did it go wrong for the first 3 dealerships?

June was interested in a new car, as she was in a car accident recently when someone drove into her car and wrote it off. In terms of a replacement all she wanted to do was find a car as similar as possible to the one that was in the accident. So she called the Mercedes dealership she bought her previous car from and explained what had happened, what she had before and what she mercedes glawas looking for in terms of a replacement. Despite being told that she had been in an accident the salesman didn’t ask after her welfare and simply concentrated on taking down details of the car she was interested in. He then told her he would check their system and come back to her with some options…. this was 3 weeks ago and he still hasn’t called her back.

A few days after speaking to him June called the next nearest dealership but they didn’t answer their phone, so she called a 3rd Mercedes dealership and spoke to a salesman there.

It was a similar conversation as she had with the first salesman, although this chap did express some concern for her health, and was again promised a call with feedback on what was available. Again no phone call was forthcoming.

In the meantime a complaint to the second dealership via Twitter yielded a phone call from the Customer Care Manager who told her they had a car with near enough the exact spec she was looking for sitting on their garage forecourt. She accordingly visited the dealership that day to view the car, and was introduced to John,the salesman who would be dealing with the potential sale. John was polite but did not appear to be particularly knowledgeable about the car; for example, he couldn’t supply a convincing explanation of the difference between the satellite navigation on this car to the one fitted on the previous vehicle. June decided that she would put down a holding deposit on this car and John told her that he would send through the relevant paperwork for her to complete. This has not been done and he seems to be unable to return the calls that June has made to the dealership. It’s interesting that all of these three dealerships are owned by the same parent company, is the lack of service symptomatic of the company culture?

June decided to call the fourth dealership, owned by a different parent company, as she was concerned and frustrated by the indifference shown to her by the dealership where she was planning to buy the car. The guy she spoke to, Darren, was very helpful. He called her back three times that day to supply her with more information on the car she was interested in and took time to explain the differences in the satellite navigation installed in the car. There was naturally some negotiation over the price but it was good natured with give and take on both sides and a price was eventually agreed. Darren then took time to explain the process and what would happen next. The paperwork has been prepared and will be signed in the next few days. It has been a fairly straightforward sale, but June feels that Darren has “worked” for the sale and has been impressed with Darren’s enthusiasm, knowledge and professionalism.

June admits to taking a certain amount of pleasure in calling the second dealership to explain why she wouldn’t be progressing with the purchase of their vehicle. For John it’s been like putting a shot wide when faced with an open goal from three yards out. It was easier to score but a lack of technique has cost him an easy order.

So why was Darren’s technique better? I think it all comes down to trust and how strong it is in the relationship. If a client trusts the sales person they have confidence in what they are being told and are more likely to listen and to take positive action as a result.

There are four simple steps to building trust in a relationship*;

  1. Reliability: if you say you are going to do something then make sure you do it. If the first dealership had come back to June with some options, as they promised, she may well have not looked any further. If John had followed up her visit with a phone call and sent the paperwork through as discussed June would not have lost confidence and gone on to contact Darren.
  2. Credibility: You need to know what you are talking about. As a car salesman product knowledge is important. John’s inability to adequately explain the differences in the satellite navigation system first started the doubts in June’s mind that she was making the right decision. When he failed to follow up on his promises those doubts grew.
  3. Intimacy: This is about emotions and how comfortable the client feels in expressing how they really feel about a situation. Displaying empathy is an important first step for a sales person in developing intimacy. The salesman in the first dealership failed here as he didn’t take time to show any concern about June following her accident. Darren did take time to discuss the accident and find out the details. His approach to the initial call encouraged June to then share her frustrations around her dealings with the other dealerships she had spoken to. This gave him a great insight into how best to adapt his approach to provide the most appropriate service to meet June’s needs.
  4. Self-orientation: This is arguably the most critical factor in developing trust. If the sales person is seen as only being interested in what’s important to them, with the client being a means to an end there is unlikely to be a successful outcome. I’m sure we have all dealt with someone at some time who was clearly only interested in achieving what mattered to them. As a result they can come across as arrogant, selfish and cocky at one end of the spectrum and bored and disinterested at the other end of the spectrum. John wasn’t in tune with what was important to June and appeared disinterested in her, whereas Darren took time to listen to her, to answer her questions and to look for a solution that satisfied both of them.

It is clear when people enjoy their jobs, their energy and passion shines through and results in people wanting to engage with them. It is very rare that people come to work not wanting to do a good job, so questions need to be asked about the style of Leadership at work at the first three dealerships discussed above, but the sales people also need to ask themselves what stops them from following up on calls and providing a level of service in which they can take pride. This was a fairly simple sale for whoever showed interest in the client, but it needed the sales person to focus on the clients and their needs rather than simply relying on the brand name to make the sale for them.

What is your experience of dealing with car sales people? Leave a comment here with your examples, good or bad, of your experience.

If you work at a car dealership we would be interested in your thoughts and experience from that “side of the fence.”


At Coach Potatoes we provide 1-2-1 and group coaching in Leadership and Sales. We have over 20 years experience in sales and have spent the last 15 years helping Leaders develop to their full potential.

We have produced a set of coaching cards specifically designed for Sales Managers and you can view these here: http://bit.ly/coachingcards

*For more information on the Trusted Advisor Model please see:
The Trusted Advisor

If you would be interested in discussing how we could help you please email us at support@thecoachbusiness.com


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5 quick wins to increase productivity

Want to increase productivity for you and your team?

If you could achieve the following*, would you be interested?

  • 3 times more creativity
  • 31% higher productivity
  • 23% fewer fatigue symptoms
  • 37% greater sales
  • 40% more likely to get a promotion
  • 10 times more engaged

In today’s rapidly changing environment the holy grail for leaders is to find ways to increase productivity in order to achieve targets and goals. It sounds counter intuitive to say that when I was managing a sales team my main focus was not on the achievement of sales targets.

Instead I focussed on ensuring that my people enjoyed their roles, as my firm belief was that if they enjoyed their work they would produce better results. I saw the purpose of my role as being to help them develop the skills, knowledge and attitude to enable them to give of their best. If they were confident they would enjoy what they were doing and as a result the targets would be achieved. The results my teams achieved was testimony to the fact that this approach worked.

Research by a variety of individuals and organisations, such as Martin Seligman, Shaun Achor and Wharton University of Pennsylvania, has also confirmed my belief that happiness can lead to success. Creating a positive work environment leads to people experiencing the positive emotions that has a direct impact onto the bottom line of results. For example I recently worked with a rapidly growing IT organisation who work out of bright new airy offices replete with chill out zones, its own bar, pool table, showers and seventies style snack bar. One of the graphic designers greeted me on arrival dressed in “green monster feet” slippers. As you can imagine the atmosphere was calm and friendly, but also successful.

Short of re-designing your offices what can you do to create positive energy for yourself and those around you?

Here are 5 tips to help you become more creative, increase productivity, reduce fatigue and drive greater engagement;

  1. 1st item on the agenda. When meeting with others, on a 1-2-1 basis or as a team, start the agenda with a review of what is going well for them. What are they happy with, proud of? It can be something personal or work related. Feedback from people I have coached who have used this indicates that this creates a positive frame of mind with a shift to solution based thinking throughout the rest of the meeting.
  2. Go for a walk. We all know that exercise is good for us, but research also shows that exercise can encourage more creative thinking. When wrestling with a challenge I find that going for a walk can help me identify potential solutions and groups have reported similar results when sent for a walk during the workshops that I facilitate. Fresh air and movement changes our perspectives and I often find that going for a walk with a coaching client produces a different outlook on the situations we discuss.
  3. Use your strengths. Identify opportunities for you and your team to play to your/their strengths. When we do something well we feel good about ourselves and this is particularly the case if we use our character strengths. Martin Seligman has devised a free survey (http://bit.ly/Strengthssurvey ) which will help you identify your character strengths, which are the positive personality traits which dictate how you think, feel and behave. Consciously using your strengths will lead to greater engagement. For example if a member of your team is particularly strong at analysing information, delegating such a task to them will enhance their self esteem.
  4. What are your 3 Gratitudes? We spend time writing out things to do lists and identifying what we still need to complete to achieve our goals. How often do we spend time reflecting on what is going well? A simple way to do this is to take 5 minutes every Friday, either before we leave work or before going to bed that night and write down 3 things that have gone well for you that week. Doing this on a consistent basis helps to re-programme our minds to look for the positives and raise our sense of well being. A Senior Leader I have been coaching has been doing this for the last 6 months, and he reports that although he felt a little silly when he first started writing out his 3 “gratitudes” he is now feeling happier in himself, less stressed and far more confident about the challenges he faces.
  5. Commit a conscious act of kindness. There is a long line of research which shows that we feel good about ourselves when we have the opportunity to help others. Take time each day to send someone an email, or phone them or speak to them face to face, to thank them for something they have done that you are grateful for. I saw a message on twitter a few days ago that someone had left on a vending machine at Christie Hospital in Manchester (http://bit.ly/vendingmachinemessage ), where they had purchased a variety of snacks and left them in the vending machine for others to help themselves to. The aim? To bring a smile to someone else’s face through a very simple act. The benefit? It makes at least 2 people feel good about the world in which we live.

What else have you tried that you can share with our readers that has improved engagement and happiness in your life?

*The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor

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How do you react to setbacks?

We all face setbacks in life and it’s how we deal with them that dictates how successful we tend to be. Learning from such experiences is a powerful step in our development.

if you look back over your career what were the incidents where you learnt the most? What happened in these situations and what was it that you learned? What advice would you give someone facing a similar situation now?

As a manager how easy is it for you to sit back and watch someone fail? There are obviously some situations where we can’t afford to let people fail, due to business critical or personal issues; however if the greatest learning takes place when we suffer setbacks and experience failure by consistently riding to the rescue we are not necessarily doing the best for or people.



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Do you have a fear of Public Speaking?

Is your fear of public speaking holding you back?

Do you wish you could overcome a fear of public speaking and talk eloquently and confidently to a group of people? Do you wish you could overcome a fear of public speaking and volunteer to make that presentation at your next team meeting?

“There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars.”
– Mark Twain

The further you go in your career the more likely it is that you will be required to make presentations and the more comfortable you feel in doing so can have a really positive impact on the image you project of yourself. Our online course in presenting skills can help you develop your ability and overcome a fear of public speaking.



Fear of Public Speaking

One of the most common fears for people is the fear of public speaking, so you are not alone in feeling anxious, nervous or even downright petrified at the thought of standing up and talking through a presentation!

I have worked with some people who have such a fear of public speaking that they break out in a rash, break out in a cold sweat, have sleepless nights, become tongue tied  and are prepared to go any length to avoid having to stand up and talk. However the rest of the time they are confident, eloquent and happy to argue their case in a group discussion. Does this sound familiar?

What is it about public speaking that provokes such a dramatic reaction in so many people?

Research suggests that one of the reasons for a fear of public speaking can stem from a negative self image which feeds the belief that the speaker will appear anxious and vulnerable, which will automatically lead to poor performance in the speakers mind. Therefore they are defeated by the fear of public speaking before they have even opned their mouths.

This has been demonstrated by the TV series, The Kings & Queens of Speech on Sky, which follows school children from various schools whose lives are transformed through taking part in a debating competition. When we first see them they all have a fear of public speaking and have a low self image with many feeling they do not fit in and isolated. However, with encouragement from the debate mentor they gradually overcome this fear and their self confidence blossoms as a result. The perception of the teachers and other students of the successful students is also sunsequently far more positive. The programme shows that the impact on the students affects all areas of their lives, and not just when they are in the debating sessions, with them seen to be more enthusiastic at school, more engaged, accepted by the rest of the group for their views and happier at home as their level of self esteem has increased.

Fear of Public SpeakingYou too can fulfil your potential by overcoming this fear of public speaking. It takes practise and needs you to step out of your comfort zone, but there are some simple techniques you can use which will enable you to increase your confidence in this area. Our online course, Click here for details , can help you develop the confidence and techniques to ensure you feel more comfortable when presenting to others.

“90% of how well the talk will go is determined before the speaker steps on the platform.” – Somers White

The online course consists of a series of videos and can be followed at your own pace. The content covers a wide variety of areas you need to consider to help you prepare for a presentation, and can be followed up with us providing you with 1-2-1 coaching programme – details on request.

Presentation Skills Course from The Coach Business


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#Stayweird, stay different

I thought the advice from Graham Moore at the 2015 Oscars to #Stayweird was one of the most inspiring messages to emerge from the evening’s Oscar winning speeches. Moore who won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Imitation Game, bravely shared the fact that he had tried to commit suicide when he was 16 as he felt weird and different from the crowd.

Here’s what he had to say on the subject;

“Here’s the thing. Alan Turing never got to stand on a stage like this and look out at all of these disconcertingly attractive faces. I do. And that’s the most unfair thing I’ve ever heard,”Moore began.

“So in this brief time here, what I wanted to do was say this: When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong.

And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere: Yes, you do. I promise you do.

Stay weird, stay different, and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much!”

There is huge pressure on young people to conform and this is an important message for them to hear and the more people that share it the better!

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So you think you can sell?

We provide 1-2-1 sales coaching with sales managers, sales people and SME business owners and it is surprising (to us anyway!) how many people are nervous about the sales process and how to approach it. Here’s a fun quiz to test your beliefs on what successful people should be doing with their customers.

How did you do? Tweet us @coachpotatoes, post a comment below or email us at support@thecoachbusiness.com if you would like to discuss further!

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Setting goals – what’s on your boarding pass?

Setting goals for 2015 – you need a boarding pass to start your journey.
What’s your destination?

Setting Goals, Boarding Pass

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” ~ Michelangelo

Every year Rory McIlroy flies out to Dubai for 7-10 days to prepare for the coming year and the golf tournament in Abu Dhabi. On the flight over he identifies the goals he wants to set for the next 12 months and writes them down on the back of his boarding pass. After committing his goals to memory he puts the boarding pass in his wallet where it stays until the end of the year.

This year he has written down 7 different goals he wants to achieve. Last year one of the goals for the World’s #1 golfer was to have 6 worldwide wins, but “only” won 4. Rory readily admits that he has yet to meet all his annual goals in any previous year, but believes in the importance of aiming high.

One of the reasons that McIlroy is the number one golfer in the world is that he looks to constantly stretch himself, and this can be seen when he comes to setting goals for himself. There needs to be a plan and a process in place behind the goals so you have a clear path on how to reach the desired destination, or setting goals becomes merely an exercise in day dreaming. Rory achieves this by working with his coach and putting in hours of practise each day to refine and improve his technique. Without the practise and coaching input the words on his boarding pass would merely be a pipedream.

setting goalsTaking the time to write down your goals also helps, as it enables you to reflect and clarify what you want. You should not only write down the specific goal but also what achieving the goal will give you. Focussing on the benefits of achieving your goals will help bring them to life and increase your motivation to take the first steps on the journey to achieving them.

Various studies reinforce the view that the process of setting and achieving goals is more successful when you not only write the goals down, but also the benefits of achievement and the steps you need to take to reach your goals.

Your first step in this process is to identify exactly what it is you want to achieve. It is therefore important for you to take time out to reflect on where you want to be in 12 months and what that will look like for you. People often find that talking this through with someone else, a friend, a colleague, a coach is invaluable in aiding their thought processes.

So what will you be writing down on your boarding pass?

“Set a goal to achieve something that is so big, so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time.” – Bob Proctor



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The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights

Did you know there’s a woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights in the final of the 2014 season of The Apprentice?

She’s up against Mark, the guy from down under, who has been this season’s top sales performer. He has successfully influenced several of his fellow contestants into putting him into the spotlight allowing him to shine. In one episode for example, Mark sold 7 hot tubs to one guy thus winning the task for the team. However he stumbled when presenting to Tescos but in the boardroom held his hands up and admitted his failure, promising to learn from the experience.

The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights has had a relatively trouble free ride to the final. I think she screwed up one negotiation in one episode but apart from that I can’t remember much. That’s the trouble I can’t even remember her name, and this might be a problem for Lord Sugar as well.

In the last episode when Mark, Daniel, Roisin, Solomon and the woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights (Nicola?) went through the interview process she was reduced to tears when two of the interviewers told her they didn’t know who she was. However she (Nicole?) does appear to have the strongest business plan as research suggests there is a gap in the market (the hosiery industry) for her product, she has a successful track record in business start-ups and she was flexible enough to adjust her business plan as she went through the interview process.

Business Leaders generally throw their hands up in horror at the thought that viewers will see the contestants who appear on The Apprentice as typical of the world of business. This fear will have increased following Solomon’s failure to produce any figures whatsoever for his business plan and Roisin who had failed to plan her cash flow accurately and having only done the skimpiest of market research into her idea before leaving her job as an accountant.

Apart from such basic lessons around business plans the impact made by the woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights (Angela?) also provides learning opportunities for Business Leaders.

The Johari window is a technique around self-awareness, interpersonal relationships and personal development created in 1955 by two American psychologists, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham and gives an insight into where the woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights (Mary?) can improve her leadership presence.

The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tightsLuft and Ingham’s research shows that those with the biggest “Public Self” window can have the biggest impact as a Leaders and an influencer.To achieve this means reducing the size of the other three windows.

To increase the size of the “public self” window it is important to continually ask for feedback from those around you about your “Blind spots”, the behaviour you don’t know about that others see. These behaviours may be preventing you from having the impact that you desire.

To reduce the size of your “unconscious self” window you need to challenge and stretch yourself to help you unlock your hidden potential. Staying in your comfort zone will keep you safe but the lack of challenge will hold back your development.

Really successful leaders share more of their hidden self with others, in that they aren’t afraid to show vulnerability, they share their hopes, dreams and fears. They believe it is important for others to understand their values and beliefs and find this encourages others to share similar with them.

The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights (Sarah?) needs to reduce the size of her “Hidden self” window. From the interview process it would appear she believes a professional image is what is important in business, and this is indeed the case. However, this is not the only critical factor in choosing whether to follow someone and their ideas.The problem she has is that she might struggle to have sufficient influence in the decision making process beyond the facts and logic behind her business plan. Logic can only take you so far as emotion also has a big part to play in the decision making process.

The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tightsThe aim of the show is for Lord Sugar to find someone to go into partnership with and him investing £250,000 in the joint business venture. For that to happen they not only need to have a sound business plan but he also needs to understand them and how they can work together.

Any partnership, whether that be in your business or personal life, can only succeed if both parties know what the other values, thinks and feels. If you think about the best Leaders you have worked with they tend to be those who demonstrate their passion for what they do, they share their values and what’s important to them, they accept they have weaknesses and don’t try and hide them away and they show an interest in you.

The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights (Becky?) hides most of this away and is therefore at a disadvantage to Mark who has been prepared to show his frustrations (largely Daniel), what motivates him and has shared his hopes and dreams in his vision for the future. As a result he has been able to exert far greater influence over the other contestants and Lord Sugar himself.

The final should be interesting. Will Lord Sugar choose the person or the business plan? The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights (good grief, what on earth is her name?) could have made it a far easier decision if she had learnt the lessons of the Johari Window.

Bianca! The woman who wants to get Lord Sugar into tights is Bianca! Ok, I cheated, I googled it.

Still, I hope she wins, I think, but then I like Mark….. she is fast running out of opportunities to show Lord Sugar who she really is and this will play a decisive part in Lord Sugar’s decision.

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