The Showroom

The Rise of the Consumer

When your customer’s product knowledge exceeds that of their sales professional, it may be time to recommit to the basic tenets of superior sales skills and high CSI.

August 2017, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by G.P. Anderson

Getty Images
Getty Images

Wouldn’t you agree that we salespeople are lay-downs for a sale? Wouldn’t you also agree we appreciate a super-talented salesperson who provides exemplary service when we purchase something? Fine dining, clothes, boats, houses … In fact, you get so excited that you offer them a job selling cars! Money always follows service.

Then answer me this: Why do we allow the consumer to be better-educated and have more product knowledge than we do? Isn’t our business a relationship business?

Fail to Disappoint

I have learned that it’s wise to underpromise and overdeliver. You can’t get far by disappointing people. Unfortunately, just as water follows the path of least resistance, many of your salespeople are doing the minimum when it comes to product knowledge, test rides and service walks.

Fish rot from the head down. Never become so complacent or internet-dependent that senior leadership falls asleep at the wheel. CSI hinges on performance attributes. I’ve heard that your charming character will sell you 30-plus vehicles a month, too.

A friend and mentor of mine used to say that better than 99.9% of people in our industry are high-quality professionals with nothing but the customer’s best interests in mind. But as with any industry or profession, a few bad apples take the benefit of the doubt from everyone else. Opinions are formed with the lowest common denominator as the norm.

Accountability standards must be established, maintained and tracked consistently within your team — regardless of its size.

Masters of Sales

When I was a salesman, I would have a dust cloth visible in my rear pocket when each guest picked up their new vehicle. I would hop in the passenger seat and tell them the first tank was on us. We would drive to the gas station down the road and I would hop out and start the pump.

With the handle locked in place and the gas flowing, I would walk to the front, look down the sides, pull out the dust cloth, and wipe a couple spots. Other people at the station would comment, “Hey, G.P., you sold another one!” The customer would be beaming. It was an enjoyable moment made even more memorable with a bit of flair and a clear demonstration of our high standard for service.

You have no doubt read that 10,000 hours of practice are required before one becomes brilliant at one’s chosen occupation. A similar effort should be applied to mastering all the minor things in your life. No task is too small to practice if it’s part of your day-to-day activities. 

We go to the doctor if we are injured or sick. We have a discussion and take their advice. Car buyers seek our counsel. So come on, folks, let’s put the “pro” back in our “pro”-fession. Our customers spend thousands and thousands of their hard-earned dollars on transportation. We owe them a productive experience.

Yes, becoming a master can be challenging. But we as an industry need to look at ourselves with both eyes wide open and all the competence and skill expected of a professional in all departments. 

G.P. Anderson is finance director of Thielen Motors Chevrolet Buick in Park Rapids, Minn., and a 25-year industry veteran. He is ACE- and AFIP-certified, a 2008 F&I Pacesetter and winner of the inaugural 2011 F&Idol contest. Email him at  


  1. 1. W.G. Kennedy [ August 22, 2017 @ 06:04PM ]

    "You have no doubt read that 10,000 hours of practice are required before one becomes brilliant at one’s chosen occupation." Wow GP! So true. To be a top performer in anything, regardless of what it is, the commitment, desire, training, skill, set backs, pain and suffering to not give up, pushing beyond your self with the never give up attitude. Love your articles.

  2. 2. Zachery Donald [ August 24, 2017 @ 08:25AM ]

    GP, from a salesman's point of view, we get thrown to the wolves in this industry. I was told by the Dealer/GM that "We are all a bunch of oranges. I squeeze every last bit of juice outta you and I get new oranges." He hangs onto to sales people for two months, fires them and gets new people. No wonder customers hate buying cars. We need more training and the managers could care less. Thank you for the reminder. I will commit to a higher standard.

  3. 3. GP Anderson [ August 25, 2017 @ 09:44AM ]

    Greetings Zachery,
    Thank you Zachery for your comments. First off let me apologize for the poor treatment you receive. That's not how it works at every dealership. The automobile business is a wonderful business with tremendous opportunities. It appears that your selling vehicles or you would have been "squeezed" out by now and your thick skinned. Success follows success. If possible, take your vacation, time off, dealer paid or even your own money and attend The Industry Summit in Dallas Texas Sept. 2017.
    Surrounding yourself with our successful people will be life changing. Good luck and keep in touch.


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