Even Used Car Salespeople Can Be Authentic

I recently was in the middle of a classic sales scenario (used car!) and got the always fascinating obligatory salesperson follow up the next day.

Beyond the friendly interaction and the upbeat desire to have lots of my contact info (cell phone and email, they stopped without socials – for now), it was a perfectly pleasant and non-pushy exchange. I would even call it “professional” given the sales-focused environment.

A day later I received a personalized email from the sales person’s manager. It was a good type of surprise at first, thanking me, laying out their services and making sure I could contact the manager directly if I wanted, but it quickly turned into a forehead-slapping groan.

First, let me just say that contact from someone of “higher authority,” especially a business owner, can be a nice touch. To the regular person, this feeling of some actual decision-making authority making the rounds in a parental way, looking out for both you individually to make sure you’re properly taken care of, and also signaling that he’s helping his sales force out of respect as a good boss, it hits all sorts of positive notes.

So here’s where they failed: in the email, addressed to my first name (as Matt and not Matthew, so they listened to that) they thanked me for coming in and “asking for information on .”

Information on what now?

Exactly.

It was a personalized form letter. They mad-lib’d me. Ugh.

What’s even worse, is that it took the parental feel-good oversight vibe and proclaimed, “not even I, the owner/manager cared enough to have someone proofread this thing.”

Here is the lesson: the world right now is full of faux-authenticity. All too many are trying to use tech to capture some additional profit that they think is associated with a real human relationship, and many of them are failing. Authenticity can’t be bought or just marketed, but that won’t stop people from trying.

No matter how many buzzwords you throw in front a fast food burger (craft! signature! custom!), it’s still a fast food burger. What’s that quote about putting lipstick on a pig?

It takes real work to have a human touch. It takes real work to make something really special. If you’re willing to actually do it – you stand out from the pack immediately.

We’ve evolved to notice differences. The uncanny valley is filled with bad form letters and buzzword abuse, making it remarkably easy to cross over for owners who actually care. What’s even better is that the audience has been preprogrammed to notice if you’re just sincere in your attempt.

It’s not even the extra mile, it’s the extra 60 seconds in this case.

Their shortcuts become our opportunities.

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