Marketing 101: How NOT to sell a car, featuring the Citroen C5 Aircross

The C5 Aircross itself is brilliant and had the experience been better, would have definitely booked the SUV.

BHPian 3WiseMen recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Hello BHPians. After lurking on this forum for about 10 years, I’ve finally joined as a member.

I am one of the many BHPians who are stuck on the long waiting list for XUV700 and scouting for other alternatives. Owning mostly Hondas and Toyotas with bulletproof reliability, the ideas of niggles persisting in the XUV surely give me a lot to worry about.

After reading the positive reviews, I called up the Citroen showroom in Mumbai. The SA informed me that they are looking to sell 3 models within the month which are lying in the showroom and are a little eager, hence willing to negotiate on the pricing. I asked the SA to WhatsApp the brochure and Pricelist and requested to schedule a test drive for the next day, i.e. Sunday.

For most of the day, I heard nothing from the SA. I reminded him a couple of times, and ultimately he apologised stating that he was out to customer locations for test drives. Since I too was eager on closing my purchase decision, I, therefore, called the SA and sent him a reminder message, which was left unanswered late in the evening I get the price list and brochure yet no confirmation on the time for a test drive.

The next day I call the SA and it was not answered. He subsequently calls me to inform me that the management has taken a decision to not take out the car on “weekends” for a test drive as they expect a lot of walk-in customers. I told him that yesterday was a Saturday, and you were out for a test drive the whole day. And till yesterday the test drive was confirmed. He wasn’t the one to be reasoned and he simply blamed it on the management and ended the call.

I, therefore, called the showroom to speak with the manager. The team leader answered and he immediately apologised for the harrowing attitude of the SA. He said that the manager is not available. He said that there’s no such management decision and in fact, the car is going to go on a test drive. And in the morning meeting, even my test drive was scheduled. He said he’s unaware why his colleague said that the cars don’t go for test drives on weekend, as they went on Saturday and are scheduled for Sunday. I told him that I’m not interested as the experience so far has been far less pleasurable. He even asked the SA to call me, I told the SA that I’m not interested and put off by the experience to which the SA replied: “Sir, do not give me all that, now we have arranged a car for you.” Speak about entitlement!

The showroom kept chasing for a test drive and repeatedly called to reconsider my decision. Ultimately the car had come for a test drive. I waited for the SA to get out and greet us, however, he stayed in the car and waited for me to approach him. Talk about French hospitality. He asked me if I would like to drive, to which I replied. 3 family members sat at the back. My father immediately informed the SA that he was not comfortable with the seat and wishes to adjust the backrest. The SA once again planted on his seat just nonchalantly informed my father, “you will find a lever somewhere”. After about 2 minutes of requesting and coaxing him, he finally reluctantly got out of his seat to show it.

While the car was brilliant, and the suspension deserves a separate post, through my 10 minutes long test drive, the SA kept quiet. To a point where we had to ask him “Do you want to tell us anything about this car”. He’s like “yes, it’s a good car. It has many standard features.” And that summarised his marketing of the car, leaving us on our own to figure out the features, the USPs and what is good, bad and ugly about the car.

At the end of the test drive, we informed the SA that we wished to see the boot, and he was like “it’s at the back you can open and see it.” I gave him a blank stare. I’m sure one will not be able to sell the Citroen C3 with this attitude, let alone a car that costs Rs. 40L+!

The test drive ended with the SA calling the primary SA to who I was speaking for the last 2 days. Who on the phone asked me if I got the test drive, and he said we will talk later about the sales and other formalities.

The SA after the TD floored the accelerator and zoomed the car out of the Building. He drove way above 60km on the short and narrow podium, where you often find kids playing or cars coming up and down the slope with a blind spot. Which irked my security as it was a sure-shot threat.

Downright impolite and made no efforts to pitch sales. Just a week back Volkswagen, Hyundai and Skoda’s SAs were trying every trick from their book to get us to close the sales with them and here we have the new kid on the block, writing a new chapter in the book of marketing titled ‘How not to sell a car.

I’m sure the product is capable of selling a lot more units, but for the disastrous sales team.

P.S: It’s been over a week, the Citroen SA has still not called to follow up on the possible sale. Had this experience been more courteous, I’m sure I would have booked the car, as I am on the lookout for an immediate delivery car. And the car itself is brilliant.

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