Are you focussed on the 94th minute?

This may seem like an unusual question and you could quite genuinely ask ‘what/which 94th minute?’.

It’s a metaphor – think football (or soccer if you’re reading this outside of the UK). It’s well known that the top sides plan to play at least 94 minutes rather than the scheduled 90 minutes. This is because the majority of games go beyond the scheduled time.

I could have asked ‘Do you run 100 metres or 110 metres?’ because again it’s a well-established principle in the world of sprinting that 100 metre athletes focus beyond the regulation distance.

The reason, I trust, is obvious. They do this because they need to stay at peak performance right up to the completion of their preferred game / sport.

What the hell…?

So why is this such an important question? Well I have recently implemented my latest sales programme for top performing car dealerships (“Selling in the 21st Century), in a volume dealer and a premium brand dealer group. The sales results have been fantastic. We have found that it’s really ‘upped’ their game in terms of the customer ‘Sales Experience’. So much so that sales are up significantly and profit is soaring, yet in some dealerships across the group customer satisfaction is down.

Of course, this wasn’t the anticipated outcome. The intention of my programme is to move the sales attitude to an ‘experiential’ one rather than a ‘transactional’ one. We have moved away from the traditional ‘adversarial’ approach of trying to identify ‘buyers’ to a much more successful approach of believing they are all ‘buyers’ and developing a truly ‘world class’ customer buying experience.

So what the hell happened to the customer satisfaction score? My Fault! Well it was my fault. Genuinely, it’s down to me.

The reason?

Because I believed the delivery process was excellent. It certainly ticked all the manufacturer boxes and everyone in the dealerships seemed pleased with it and, hitherto, there had been no negatives from customers.

So what went wrong? Well, nothing went wrong but we put delivery in the shade because it all went too well! The showroom experience improved so much that the ‘post order / pre-delivery’ experience now felt a ‘bit flat’, to quote one satisfied customer.

The experiential sales process is now phenomenal. The actual handover is brilliant too. But that period between order and delivery has become a problem. It became a problem in terms of the communication process of keeping people informed. It just didn’t come up to scratch for people having gone through the new, invigorated sales process.

New cars was a problem because of prep times and sometimes having to order the car in (particularly with the premium brands) but even on used cars, where the turnaround was much quicker, we still found we had work to do. It wasn’t bad – it just wasn’t brilliant.

Previously customers accepted a lack lustre approach to organising the delivery because that’s what they expected from a less than amazing sales experience. We moved the needle on the buying experience to the point customers were pro-actively saying things like “We bought because of the experience”. Even where one customer said “We could have bought the same (new) car from another dealer for £10 per month less (on a 48-month finance deal) but we would rather buy here where we know you care and will look after us properly. You made it so easy”.

World Class

So, what have we done about it? We have designed and added a new post order module to our programme. It’s a world class communication process to keep customers up to date regularly through the post order phase, before delivery. Even when we have nothing to tell them, they get a telephone call, email and text just to say everything is on track. Just informing them of that is often more than enough.

Keep the kettle on the boil

We have introduced ‘random acts of kindness’ – small things like sending key fobs pre-delivery, a bottle of champagne as a thank you for ‘top of the range’ purchases, even a ‘Summer Special’ cleaning kit from the Service Department. We are doing this between order and delivery, keeping the (buying) kettle on the boil. We have effectively focussed beyond the normal end game of the order. We already have a post delivery process that includes thank you notes and referral commissions, but we had missed a trick with the pre-delivery period.


You must check your post order / pre-delivery process now. Does it delight your customer? Make sure your salespeople are focussed on the whole game, right to the very end. Does it keep up the buying momentum you have worked so hard to generate? Make sure there isn’t a flat spot in the customer experience. And sit with your sales team and brainstorm ideas to keep ‘the kettle boiling!’

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