When you are a clear prospect, have booked a product trial and there are no financial or technical objections – should not a marketing process and all comms simply cement the deal? Incredibly – in an age of data mining, sales methods, customer life cycles and whole tribes of marketers extolling the importance of social media and the font integrity of logo application – my recent experience with buying a new shiny German car has been eye opening. Don’t get me wrong the product and most of its F-words are spot on (Functional, Fast, Fashionable) – its my favourite F-words ‘Friends’ (i.e. Partners) that is strange. Two cars were delivered to me ok – but strangely no brochure, no letter, no business card of my account manager, or freebie to tempt me over the edge into avowed brand lover. It is the most disjointed and poorly executed delivery of what should be the absolute ‘slam dunk’ sales opportunity. There was not even a practical sheet explaining how to use the knobs and dials – let alone a feedback form. The chap who delivered the cars knew nothing (and I mean really knew nothing: he was not even sure of the model, let alone the specification) – so I had to read through the glovebox manual, which as ever was written by some Microsoft server software engineer and been through three translations. In the end I had to go to a high street dealer to ask them to explain the car specs and get a brochure. You would have thought that first time behind the wheel would be that moment of truth, the first kiss, the start of a beautiful relationship. Instead its more of a ‘ere you go mate – not sure what that buttons for and oh give us 30 grand if you want it alright?’ How could the ultimate marketing team not see this as one of the key touch points? Perhaps the latest tv ad, iPhone application or branded keyring logo is more important than paying attention to a prospect who is either going to say yes or no to buying their product? My friends have had varied levels of personal service from this German masterpiece and when looking around the showroom the sales staff tended to court the personal approach that made my wife and I feel as if we’d walked into the ballet in shell suits. And no this is not my experience of all car brands either. Jaguar are posh but in a comforting service way, like staying in a nice hotel. Saab sales were car fans, friendly, relaxed and interested in me, what I thought of the car. Ford-Mazda offer incredible levels of service and make you feel you are being served. My solution would be to focus on the German test drive process and especially the role of the demonstrator partner. Simple marketing process; deliver the vehicle with personal pack, with letter and brochure and request to book a phone appointment to confirm order. Use txt, email to make it easy. I know test drives have a very high sales conversion ratio – but what if I have 2-3 brands I test drive? It is a fine car – but how much better would the sales be with a minimum of marketing effort. Blimey – I may even end up feeling like a valued customer.