In today's ultra-competitive and cutthroat car sales environment, which brands have the best salespeople? We consulted Cars.co.za's annual Ownership Satisfaction Survey – conducted in partnership with Lightstone Consumer – to find out.
Since 2015, Cars.co.za has conducted surveys with car owners to measure their perceptions of their respective purchasing-, after-sales- and overall ownership experiences. One output from these surveys is the prestigious Cars.co.za Consumer Awards – Powered by Wesbank, in which with 50% of the category scores are drawn from the survey results and the much-prized Brand of the Year Award is based entirely on market data, which includes this survey. Over the past 5 years, almost 30 000 car owners have completed the Cars.co.za Ownership Satisfaction survey; in excess of 10 000 of these were completed in 2019.
The survey also measures and tracks a wide range of issues of importance to South Africa car owners and much of this information is shared with manufacturers through an online dashboard, which is regularly updated. For the purposes of this analysis of the sales process; and for more representative results, we only included brands of which at least 150 owners had answered the questions pertaining to sales experience questions last year.
The purchasing experience
With an ageing product line-up, Isuzu's salespeople have to be on the top of their game to move metal.
Car owners who had recently purchased a new car were asked about their sales experience. A number of these questions relate directly to the salesperson they dealt with. These cover the salesperson’s professionalism, friendliness, (perceived) honesty, product knowledge, how well extras and add-ons such as insurance, on the road costs etc. were explained, as well as the salesperson’s overall communication.
The brand with the overall highest-rated salespeople during the 2019 survey year was Isuzu, with a score of 9.1 (out of 10). Toyota, Honda and Mazda all scored 9 out of 10, with Suzuki coming in at 8.9. It's interesting to note that the top 5 brands are all Japanese. Ford, BMW and Nissan (all with scores rounded off to 8.9) followed closely after.
Digging into the sub-sets of data that make up the overall picture provides more fascinating insights; Isuzu's salespeople are once again rated tops (score of 9.2) when it comes to product knowledge (keep in mind the brand has a limited product line-up), but Toyota's second-place finish (9.1) in this section is particularly impressive given its vast and complex model range.
While the rest of the ranking closely mirrors the overall picture, it is worth noting that Mahindra makes an appearance in the Top 10 (8th, in fact) with a score of 8.9.
Isuzu's product line-up expanded to include the mu-X in 2018.
The Japanese marque can be justifiably proud of its dealership network. Its salespeople are not only ranked tops for product knowledge, but also for "friendliness", "explaining add-ons" and "overall communication".
Owners were also asked to consider, based on their sales experience, if they would be likely to recommend the dealership to their friends or family members. Using the Net Promoter Scoring (NPS) system, those rating 9 or 10 are considered Promoters and are highly likely to recommend the dealership while those rating 6 or lower are considered Detractors and are unlikely to recommend the dealership. The difference between Promoters and Detractors results in a Net Promoter Score.
The top five ranked brands in terms of the sales process are:
"Isuzu's excellent performance in the sales process is particularly impressive because it was part of the General Motors stable not so long ago – GM brands did not perform well in our survey," says Cars.co.za Consumer Experience Manager Hannes Oosthuizen.
"It is clear that the ability to focus on a single brand has been beneficial, in addition to selling a well-known product with few issues, but another contributing factor is that the company's entire existence depends very much on the dealership network's ability to move this product (D-Max) against much newer competition. This focus and determination will stand the brand in good stead once the all-new D-Max arrives in the future."