A $28,000 Mistake

While on a motorcycle ride with some friends I watched a salesman miss out on a $28,000 sale. The reason why is a lesson for anyone running or managing a business.


Each year I take a motorcycle ride with a few of my friends. The route changes slightly, but the destination is always the same. We visit a one of my friends family cemetery where the solar lights around his father’s grave are replaced.

It is a beautiful area here in North Dakota right near the Cross Ranch State Park. The site of his families homestead is there along with the family cemetery that has been there since the 1800’s.

But I digress, back to the $28,000 mistake. As you can see, I’m riding a concours. Kawasaki’s sport touring bike. Most of my friends prefer cruisers, and a couple are die hard Harley folks. During one of our last stops, Russ, who is leading this group of misfits told us that he had spoken to his wife over the phone and was planning on buying a brand new Harley in the next town if they could make him a deal.

It’s not really my cup of tea, but I could see why he liked the bike. It had everything! Cruise control, sound system, navigation, rider/passenger communication system, and tons of comfort.

But he isn’t on the bike right now, and it isn’t because they wouldn’t make him a deal. THEY DIDN’T EVEN TALK TO HIM.

Russ even told the lady at the check-out counter that he was interested in talking to a salesman about a bike. Her response was that the salesman were over there. Sure he could have approached them, but Russ felt that if he was going to spend $28,000 on a new motorcycle, he shouldn’t have to beg a salesperson to talk to him.

There were three salesman on the showroom floor that I could count, and it was pretty easy. They were standing around talking to each other.

Russ waited in the showroom, exhibiting all the buying signs in the world. He was touching the bike, examining the price sticker, sitting on it, even calling his friends over to admire, and give reassurance that this was indeed a fine specimen of a motorcycle. But as time went on Russ’s frustration grew, and finally he simply left. Unsatisfied, and ready to tell everyone about his negative experience.

Now Harley guys are Harley guys and 3 weeks later he did buy his bike. At a different dealer, in a different town, with a different salesperson collecting the commission and different owner raking in the profit.

I can see at least 3 lessons to learn from this encounter.

  1. When someone tells you they want to speak to a salesman, you get up and you walk them directly to the person they need to speak with and you introduce them. Don’t leave this to chance.
  2. When you have someone on your showroom floor. Never, Never, Never assume you know what is happening there. Sure, 5 out of the 6 of us were looky-loos, but one of us had the green light from our spouse to spend $28,000. All you had to do was hang out with us long enough to figure out which. Pre-qualifying is rampant in every company that sells anything, and costs us more than probably anything else.
  3. When someone is heading for the door, you have one final chance to ensure that they were well cared for in your business, and if not NOW is the time to fix it. No one stopped him, not even the person he had told he was looking to buy a bike.

We all make mistakes in our businesses, I just hope it doesn’t cost $28,000 to learn my lesson.


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