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The Anti-Dealership: Tesla finishes last in being salesy
Posted on July 13, 2016 by Matt Pressman
For the third year in a row, Tesla Motors [NASDAQ: TSLA] has ranked as the worst on a car salesmanship Prospect Satisfaction Index which "measures how well dealerships follow sales processes, such as asking qualifying questions and ultimately asking for the sale." As reported in Electrek*, "If there’s a list Tesla is probably OK with not being at the top of, it’s ‘Best Car Salesmen’. The company boasts about its distribution and servicing model being unlike any other in the industry and the latest mystery shoppers study by Pied Piper, a real consultant and market research firm (not based on the HBO series Silicon Valley), kind of proved that it is the case by placing Tesla dead last."
Above: Inside a Tesla Store (Twitter: @EveehCars)
What did these mystery shoppers experience at Tesla stores? They discovered that Tesla's: "employees tended to act like 'museum curators' because they were knowledgeable about the product, but they never asked for the sale, which is actually probably more in line with Elon Musk’s vision for Tesla’s retail experience." It's important to note that Tesla doesn't even label its retail locations as "dealerships" -- rather they're referred to as Tesla Showrooms or Tesla Galleries. In any event, take a look at the rankings below.
Tesla takes an anti-sales approach to their stores. "In a 2012 blog post, Tesla’s CEO explained the company’s approach to distributing and servicing cars. He described the goal of Product Specialists, Tesla’s equivalent of salespeople: 'They are not on commission and they will never pressure you to buy a car. Their goal and the sole metric of their success is to have you enjoy the experience of visiting so much that you look forward to returning again.'"
Above: Tesla focuses its store staff more on education and less on the "hard sell" (Photo: Green Bay Press-Gazette / Al Seib)
Furthermore, "dealerships make most of their profit on servicing the vehicles they sell, while Tesla aims not to make a profit on service. Musk is on record saying that he thinks it’s 'terrible' to make a profit on service." Check out the video below to get Musk's views on service along with background on Tesla's ongoing fight to sell direct-to-consumers versus the franchise dealership lobbies nationwide.
Above: Tesla CEO Elon Musk explains his anti-dealership thinking (Source: MrNothingButAir)
A few years ago, The Atlantic featured a survey on the most and least-honest professions, and they note that, "In particular, we don't trust people trying to sell us something because we know that their objective isn't to provide a service, but to make a sale." So which profession was voted to be least trustworthy? You guessed it: Car salespeople (right behind Members of Congress). Take a look at the survey results below. It's no wonder Tesla CEO Elon Musk has mandated that Tesla staffers steer clear of sales tactics and focus, instead, on electric vehicle education.
Above: Gallop poll of most and least-honest professions with "Car salespeople" at the bottom of the list (Source: The Atlantic)
Okay... so looking back at the recent car salesmanship survey placing Tesla at the bottom of the list coupled with this prior survey (see above) showing car salesmen rated as the least trustworthy and it appears that Musk's anti-sales approach is genius. That said, what does Musk think about ranking dead last when it comes to pushy, close-the-deal sales tactics? It appears he's pretty happy about it. Yesterday, he tweeted, "Tesla finishes last in being salesy! Good."