“We want people with a personality. The change to our sales process – called internally ‘selling by objectives’ – says you need to be intelligent enough to complete at transaction, but it’s the people skills aspect of it is that’s going to make you successful.
“Customers are much better educated on their choices, so what’s fundamentally different at Marshall is we are asking the customer far more open questions, getting them to tell us what they want, less selling to them.
“For example, a customer might only want a value on their part-exchange. Previously, a salesperson would’ve been shot if you went straight to this step, because you should have found out what they were looking to buy.
“Now, we treat the customer with a bit of respect and let them take a bit more of the control, recognising that they are far more educated than they used to be.”
Alongside the showroom experience, emphasis is being put on email handling, with 20% of management bonus for sales managers linked to speed of response, monitored through nine mystery shops every quarter in each Marshall business.
To ensure a quality response, a template is used, which emphasises reasons to buy from Marshall and the long-standing heritage of the family business.
Online communication is a unique skill, Gupta acknowledges, so he is considering courses for sales people on how it’s done correctly. The typical email staff are fielding is “I have a budget of £X. What can I buy?”
Marshall expects emails to be responded to in an hour or, if received overnight, by 10am the next day.
Gupta wouldn’t give details on the impact on conversion levels based on the new sales approach and the quality of email response, other than conversion levels are improving.
However, he said: “We do not need to spend any more on marketing – it’s money wasted. Quite frankly, we should easing back. I don’t need any more leads. What we should be doing is converting more of what we’ve got.”
Joining the £1 billion club
Marshall Motor Group chief executive Daksh Gupta tweeted on February 26 that the motor retailer’s turnover had put it in ‘the billion pound club’.
In November’s AM100 update, Marshall – at number 10 – had a turnover in its 2012 statutory accounts of £794 million. The remainder of the top 10 all had £1bn-plus turnover.
The achievement is a milestone in what Gupta has called phase one of the group’s business plan: the first five years of his tenure, during which he led the reshaping of the group.