Car buyers want to hear from ‘product experts’ not be sold to by incentivised salespeople

Time 6 months ago

Customers who are sold a car by sales staff incentivised to push certain models do not get a good experience.

That’s the opinion of Polestar Cars COO Jonathan Goodman who thinks product experts who are merely in showrooms to advise customers are what buyers really want.

Speaking to the virtual Sophus3 Automotive Digital Summit this week, a video of which you can watch above, Goodman says Polestar didn’t want traditional sales people in its showrooms.


He says that incentivising salespeople leads them to sell customers the wrong cars, or ones that they have a vested interest in shifting, and that’s not the experience they should be getting.

Goodman – who formerly ran Peugeot in the UK – said Polestar wanted to rethink the way it sold its electric cars to customers and work with dealers who thought the same.

He said visiting a car dealership was ‘alien’ to car buyers and you wouldn’t ask people to do it to buy anything else.

‘It’s an intimidating place to walk into,’ said Goodman. 

‘Add on to that the pressure that almost every manufacturer works on wholesaling into dealers, therefore the stock comes into dealers and the dealers have to sell the stock.

‘I have spent a lot of time as a customer researching my car and I’ve decided on which car to buy and I walk into the dealer and the salesperson has an incentive to sell the 15 red ones that have been wholesaled into him in the last week. 

‘So never mind the fact I’ve researched black, and that’s the colour I want, the first thing that salesperson is going to try and do is persuade me I want the red one and here’s five grand off.

‘Now I don’t think that’s a great customer experience.’

Goodman explains Polestar decided to take commission paid salespeople ‘out of the equation’.

He added: ‘Let’s have it run by car dealers who understand the business and let’s say to them I want product experts in there.

‘And they’re not going to be paid commission because they’re not signing the customer up.

‘No customer walks into a Polestar Space is going to have an order form put under their nose, they’re not going to be put under any pressure, what they will meet is someone who knows the product inside out, who can listen to what they want.’

Goodman also explained that Polestar has improved its online teams during the pandemic and found customers wanted to use online chat more.

He said he thinks the automotive industry is not very good at listening to the way customers want to interact and instead choose to ‘push’ information.

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‘We’re still on the learning curve,’ he added. ‘For us to say we’ve got everything right would be enormously arrogant and completely untrue.’

BMW, Hyundai, and Jaguar Land Rover representatives also feature in the Sophus3 conference which you can watch at the top of this page.

Goodman spoke to Car Dealer Live earlier this year. You can watch the full interview below.

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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