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How motorcycle sales people should treat us

Motorcycle dealer showroom deal

Have you ever been in the market for a motorcycle and found the sales man condescending, uninterested, ill-informed, pushy and male?

Yes, that’s right – salesman. There are very few saleswomen in the motorcycle industry, which is unfortunate as they may be little more sensitive to customers.

The two archetypal salesmen are the young skater and the pushy “professional” salesman.

The former is probably more interested in riding his sports bike or motocrosser than talking to you. He calls you “mate” or “buddy” and he knows nothing about the “old fart” bike you may be looking at.

The pushy salesman attacks you as you walk in the door and tries every sales pitch to sell you something right now.

While many dealers are now getting their act together, there are still too-few genuinely interested, friendly, respectful salespeople in the industry.

Those who are seem to be the most successful. You can tell the successful dealers – they have plenty of staff, plenty of stock, lots of demo models and heaps of customers!

So, drawing on our own shopping experiences and with the help of an industry veteran, we have put together this list of 10 top tips for motorcycle salespeople and dealers.

Motorcycle dealer showroom deal

1 Offer test rides

An American industry survey has found that the best-selling motorcycle brands are those that offer test rides. We customers are not going to buy an expensive luxury item without throwing a leg over it first.

2 Don’t call me mate

I’m not your mate. This is a business transaction and let’s keep it that way. Be friendly, but not overly familiar. Remember, you could be dealing with the CEO of a major company. Every customer deserves respect.

3 Don’t ignore me

By all means, let me browse around and don’t attack me the minute I walk in the door, but if I start looking around for a salesperson, you better be ready to talk and not chatting with your mates.

4 Respect your female customers

Don’t assume that a woman in a motorcycle store is there with her male partner! Women buy motorcycles, too. Don’t talk down to them and show them a pretty little pink scooter when they are asking to see a mean, black sportsbike.

5 Don’t use sales “ploys”

For example, don’t ask “what will it take to do business today?” A motorcycle is not a necessity, but a luxury. We’re not buying tomatoes that will go off in a few days. We are considering a major purchase and need time, not pressure.

Motorcycle dealer showroom deal6 Don’t withhold brochures

They may cost a bit, but a glossy brochure is a valuable sales tool. Customers love to take them home and show their partners and friends to get their opinion. Motorcycle companies wouldn’t spend a lot on photography and high-quality printing if they didn’t work.

7 Offer us a drink

We will stay longer if you offer us a free cold or hot drink. we may have just come in off our bikes out of the cold/heat and need a refreshment. It also starts a conversation going.

8 Know your product

We love bikes and study them on the internet and in magazines, so we have a good idea of what we want and all its technical details before we even step into your dealership. Often we may know more than you! So you’d better brush up on the technical details. If you don’t know the answer to one of our probing questions, don’t lie or we’ll catch you out.

9 Let us sit on the bike

Before we ask to test ride the bike, we will want to sit on it. Ten seconds later we still won’t have much idea of how it feels, so don’t ask. Leave us alone for a few minutes to feel the ergonomics and allow the seat cushion to settle under our weight.

10 Don’t talk changeover prices

When it comes time to do the deal, tell us what you are giving us for our trade-in and how much the bike will cost. Don’t talk changeover prices, because then we get confused about whether we are being screwed on the trade or the new price. And be ready to throw in a first service or accessory to clinch the deal.

Now find out how you can be a good customer and score a top deal!

  1. I hate the number 10, it should be number #1 on the list. You’re offered a change-over price and the first thing you’re trying to workout is what they are offering for your trade-in.

    1. The changover price should never be left vague. What should be done is to write ALL the numbers down. Every number and how they got there. Then show the difference, and explain it as the difference. Explain – for instance – that we are out of room to move on the new bike, but have more leeway on the trade in etc..If I can give you 10k for your trade and sell you my bike for 20k but the guy down the road gives you 15k for your trade and HIS bike is 27k, then my deal is the best value

  2. I asked the Salesman I bought my bike from “what is that button for??” ( it was the starter button) .
    I said “they all seem to have one. . )
    He actually said “I’ll ask someone ”
    *sigh* still . bought her

  3. James Straker – Morgan and Wacker. If you’re after a Harley and are anywhere in Australia – get in contact with this man.

    He genuinely is a nice guy. No, I don’t know him personally, but doing business with this man – it’s a pleasure.

    Luke Fairchild – for parts and accessories is also a top bloke / knows his shit and doesn’t want to pull skulls and chrome flames on every Harley that rolls out the dealership.

    It’s rare in Harley dealerships to have people like this, the principal at Morgan and Wacker Paul, is also a legend.

    Big promoter of Harley Australia and this team in Brisbane.

  4. Sometimes it’s about the extras not the bike.
    Most people who buy a bike already have an idea of if not exactly what bike they want.
    What they are really looking for is the extras.
    Sometimes it’s cheap finance or insurance other times it’s apparel or luggage often it’s service, not the thank you come again type the I don’t want to breakdown type.
    So they may want tires and oil filters and break pads for the next three years all bundled up in a nice bow . Those who use bikes as daily transport rather than the occasional weekend will especially want the peace of mind that they won’t be off the road for days waiting on a part from OS. The sales person needs to remember that a small profit is still a profit and large sales numbers can get them more than small numbers . A dealer who sells ten bikes will get a better price from the supplier than the dealer who only sells two, and the customer who feels ripped off won’t return nor will his mates.

  5. I must be the odd one out because the changeover price is the price I want to know – it’s what I am going to be spending. The true cost. Some dealers discount the bike and trade in, some pad the price of the new bike and then offer a higher trade-in.

    One dealer offers you a $5k trade in but the new bike is $12k? or the next dealer only offers a $3k trade in but the (same) new bike is $10k?

    Some dealers have room to move on the new price and some have room to move on the trade in – I don’t care which way they go as long as I get the lowest change over price.

    1. Nope, you’re not the odd one out. I too only care for the changeover price. How they get there is irrelevant to me as the changeover is all I’m paying.

      I recently traded a ninja 300 in for a mt09 and got a changeover price of $7500!! The minute that number was agreed a deposit was placed.

      1. Yeah, this is actually the number to focus on. In fact, there will be many lost sales if this number is not emphasized and explained

  6. I’ve tried three times to buy a motorcycle from the same multi brand dealer – unsuccessfully.

    I enquirers about a Triumph Trophy when they were first released. I was 90% certain it was the right bike and wanted to sit on one to know how it felt. “If your serious, buy it and we’ll get one in, otherwise your not interested in a touring bike”. The BMW K1600GT I brought a month later says I was serious about a touring bike. No sale. I looked at the new Rushmore Uktra Limited when the were released and was surprised and thought I could live with it. I unfortunately I tried to buy it on a ride day when the local HOG chapter had a BBQ at the dealership. I waited 45 minutes trying to get the dealer himself ‘s attention to take my money. Old HD owners were more important than a new one. No Sale. Several months ago I even dragged the wife into the dealership, to look at a KTM Super Adventure after being told one had come in the day before. It turned out to be pre-sold and had been picked up 30 minutes before I got there. No problem, except not only couldn’t I get any information, I couldn’t even get a brochure. The young salesman didn’t even take my details. No Sale.

    The local BMW dealer makes mistake number 11 that should be on your list. A customer with an old bike in your service department, is a potential new customer on the sales floor. If you don’t listen to them and treat them with some respect, The sales won’t follow. Customers complain about the lack of service or problems for a reason, it’s not a hobby.

  7. Sadly, all too true. Twenty years ago I suggested to a DP that he should consider employing females as it would be a growth area of sales. His response ‘I don’t want sheilas at my work, I already have one at home to give me grief.’ Suffice to say he is long out of business. The problem seems to be that vision and imagination escapes the vast majority of motorcycles and motorcycle products. They have no idea how to spell transferrable skills let alone what they are , so rhey continue the lazy option. Keep employing people who have current experience in the industry who have all the people skills of Tony Abbott. Not smart business.

  8. Well, I’m still waiting for the call from one dealer for a bike I wanted to test ride. Surely, after four years it has come into the store – and the salesperson was female!

    Then one dealer said ‘I’m not going to lick your arse to do the deal’. I was ready to walk out but I wanted the bike. Needless to say, I never went back there to upgrade or let them service the bike.

    Then, when I was looking to upgrade, I went to a dealer to see if I could test ride the bike that was staring at me on the showroom floor. His answer, ‘no, as that is not a demo model. But you can test ride the adventure version as it has the same engine, and that’s what you need to get the feel of’. Never went back there either. I mean, how stupid did he think I was that I didn’t know the difference in ergonomics and handling between an adventure bike and a sports tourer!!!!

    But now I have found a dealer I’m happy with, they let me go for test rides and I’m looked after in the service department. As a result I have bought two bikes from them in as many years, not to mention the gear.

    So the message here is: treat potential customers with contempt or treat them as stupid, and guess what, you miss out. No dealer is perfect, but sometimes you can be lucky.

  9. When I visited Honda to check out some bikes, the salesman was very reluctant to let me take one for a test ride. He said he needed to wait for the senior salesperson to come back and give approval.

    I walked across the road to Yamaha and they were practically throwing keys at me to take something for a spin. Needless to say I ended up with a Yamaha!

    So #1 was definitely the #1 for me

  10. My wife and I recently looked at purchasing a pair of adventure bikes. I went to the store in the first instance to check out what was available. After asking for a salesman to assist, a smarmy upstart salesman showed up and acted as if I was interrupting his day. I told him I was looking at buying two bikes and his attitude changed. I arranged to come back on the weekend with my wife to road test. A few days later we returned to the store and the same salesman greeted me but had obviosly forgotten what I was looking for and palmed me off to another salesman so he could chat with his mate. The second salesman was extremely professional and catered to our every need and question. We bought two bikes from the second salesman, however if we had to deal with the smarmy upstart they would have lost the sale and we would have bought the bikes from interstate. I mentioned this to the good salesman and he relayed it to his boss. Some salesmen are just not worthy of our money.

  11. I would like to say thank you very much for a very informative article! I am just getting started in the industry and want to be different than the stereo-typical salesman. I want to bring value to the customer and find the best way to serve them. In the end customers are the one’s who are keeping the dealership alive and it is imperative to treat them with care and respect. In a time where people are more skeptical than ever, I find my best asset transparency, honesty trumps all. So thank you for the informative article!

  12. Hi. Thank you for the info. I’m taking it as a “what not to do” as I am new to the sales team at my local Harley Davidson Dealership. (and yes, I’m female) Pretty much everything you wrote seems pretty common sense to me but it’s a nice reinforcement. We do very much encourage as much exposure as possible to as many bikes as you’d like to try out up to and including multiple test rides. I’ve been taught that our job is to help the customer find the perfect bike for them and negotiate with management on the customer’s behalf. to get them a deal they can be comfortable with. We want customers for life who will be a part of the family and Ride bikes that they are in love with. That beats a one time sale any day of the week. Thanks again. And Ride safe and Free!

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