It’s only natural that Tesla would score poorly in a survey of showroom sales acumen. Who needs sales acumen when the product is supply-constrained and ordered largely online? If the sales staff acts a bit like museum curators, everyone can understand why — everyone except the people behind the survey.
However . . .
Let’s say Tesla has enough supply that boosting sales becomes, you know, not a terrible idea. It wouldn’t require a big change. TeslaMondo thinks there’s plenty of room between “museum curator” and “car salesman.” The middle ground can be loosely called “benign manipulator,” or maybe “momentum facilitator.”
Do Tesla product specialists offer test-drives to people? They should. There’s no substitute for seat time, especially in such a transformative vehicle. And if the customer is too shy, the staff should offer test rides. Many people are reluctant to try out an expensive vehicle, especially something totally novel. But they’re more than happy to ride shotgun. Will they become buyers on the spot? Maybe not. Eventually? Very likely. And along the way, they will become Tesla evangelists to everyone they know: “Guess what I rode in today?”
Test-drive a Tesla, get a free Tesla thermos. Low-brow sales tactic? Harmful to the brand? Not at all.
A good suit salesman puts a suit on you and ushers you right to the tailor regardless of whether you’ve actually declared your readiness to buy. “It just kinda happened,” you tell yourself later, looking at your $500 suit hanging in the closet. Cars are sold the same way, and with no ill will.
In 2013, Tesla neared the abyss due to Model S early-production bugs and generally bad word of mouth. Customers who had ordered cars were getting cold feet. Tesla staff from all corners of the company suddenly became car salesmen, and it worked. The company made a dramatic turnaround, igniting a virtuous cycle that restored faith and lifted TLSA above $200. So, you see, Tesla can indeed “sell” cars if need be.
Tesla product specialists shouldn’t act like museum curators any more than museum curators should hock the exhibits.