Normally when I beat my head twice on the same wall it is time to figure out what I am doing wrong. Bad faith has seldom been an issue in my business dealings so most of my solutions are found in mismatched expectations. I think this might be the case with my Tesla sales experience. If so, where am I going wrong?
Tesla is using a direct sales approach. As a starting point, let's assume 20k a year in volume and a three month time from finalize (customer commits funds) to delivery and payment. This would yield 5000 sales in play at any one time.
The "Apple Store" model of sales places a reasonable number of bright, motivated and intelligent young people deployed at store fronts, service centers and Tesla call centers to interact with the buyer. I think of these people as populating a wheel with spokes going back to a central hub at the factory. Those on the wheel can handle a lot of the customer interface and even some of the sales related issues but the hub is where the decisions are made and it is here that I think the process is breaking down.
Eighty thousand dollar capital expenditures are not IPhone purchases. Tesla is aiming for the customer laying hands on the product at the store front then placing an order over the internet with the factory. Early adopters are more likely to blend in with this idea but most car buying customers are going to require some level of interaction to complete a sale; a function the typical dealer sales manager performs. Financing, trade ins and title requirements are but a few of the issues dealers deal with day in and day out. The nuances of these interactions will vary state to state. Add Tesla's dealer issues and production scheduling/commitments to the normal sales manager work load and you are going to need some creative decision makers playing a very active roll if the sales cycle is to go smoothly. These people carry the added burden of needing to be better than their Dealer Sales Manager brethren if Tesla is to meet its own goal of a better customer experience.
My expectations on a $100K capital purchase are that I am going to deal with an entity that is capable of, and willing to take the time to, understand my concerns and will work with me to find a solution that meets both parties needs. The entity should expect the same of me although the onus to be flexible normally falls more on the vendor in a vendor/customer relationship. I am now working my second issue with sales and I am getting the feeling that the wheel is functional but there is no one at home at the hub. Judging by some of the posts I have read, I may not be the only one.
So, how many engaged decision makers does it take at the hub of a management group to properly manage 5,000 active end user sales? Does Tesla seem to have anywhere near this level of support in place? Are they exhibiting the regional expertise required to sell in fifty states and abroad? I would love to hear what other forum members are thinking.
Also posted on TMC