Saturday, November 6, 2010

Walking the walk; talking the talk . . . . .

I've been writing about the RV industry for almost fifteen years now and I have one pet peeve that I'll bet is shared by many RVers. When interviewing everyone from CEO's of major manufacturers to the sales and service reps that work on the RVs at your local dealership; I find far too many people who do not use the very products they make, service and sell.

While no one will argue against the importance of product knowledge about what it is that you are selling; nothing replaces an understanding of why your prospect want to buy that product.

Camping and RVing is a lifestyle enjoyed by millions, so is it too much to ask that the people responsible for bringing products to the market, and trying to sell them to the public, actually use them and see the industry as the consumer sees it?

It is amazing how many RVers tell me that their sales rep only knew the product and had never been out in the great outdoors to appreciate what it was about this lifestyle that the person buying the unit wanted to enjoy.

There are many people involved in the design, testing and manufacturing of trailers and motorhomes that have never been in them once they left the factory!

As a consumer, you should ask the tough questions of your sales rep and dealership and see if they are also out there in the campgrounds and RV resorts using the products they sell. If you are at a consumer RV show and run into some of the manufacturer's reps that are supporting your local dealer to help them sell their particular brand, ask them the tough question also; do you use your own products and do you go camping with your family and friends?

You might be surprised at the answer you get!

Now this is not a condemnation of all manufacturers, suppliers, campgrounds or dealers - simply a "heads-up" that the people you are speaking with may not speak the RV language and may not truly understand why people by RVs.

If you are dealing with a sales rep that only wants to talk about himself, the dealership, and the products on the lot - go someplace else. You want to be speaking to a person that will ask you why you are there, what kind of RV you own or want to buy, how you plan to use the RV, what it is that you like about the lifestyle, what you like or don't like about your current RV, what you like and don't like about campgrounds and resorts .... and a host of other questions that any professional sales rep should be asking to truly understand their prospect before they ever try to sell them something.

Next time you visit a dealership or an RV show, find out just how much the sales rep knows about the lifestyle, from your perspective, not from the training room or a fancy brochure!


  1. With your extensive RV industry experience I'm surprised by this article. My husband is a master RV tech and also loves RVing. The salesmen are pushed to be like car salesmen.....whether they RV or not. And....sales are so slow they probably can't afford an RV or have the time to enjoy one.

  2. Anonymous,

    What is it that surprises you? I don't expect every sales rep and service technician to own an RV, and perhaps I could have explained that better. I think manufacturers and dealers should make units available so that their employees can spend a weekend or a vacation in an actual RV so that they experience it from a customer's perspective. Even one weekend would open many eyes and let them gain more respect for the consumers they are trying to sell to.

    Thanks for your insight and comments.

  3. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't drink a beer brewed by a brewmaster who didn't drink or enjoy beer. Intimate product knowledge is key to serving your customers. Bob, I can't agree more with your comments. The entire industry would improve if the people designing, manufacturing, selling and servicing RVs were out there using them like we do. Excellent products and service are born from passion. If we had a modicum of passion fuelling the RV industry instead of bean counters trying to squeeze every last nickel out of each unit, we'd see this industry flourish. Keep being the "squeaky wheel" Bob!

  4. I have found that every time I buy a car I know more about the model I'm there to buy than the salesman does. If you sell RV's then even if you don't go camping you SHOULD at least get to understand why people do. Getting use of a rig so you can understand the product only helps a salesman get sales, to me this is basic but I'm not shocked that many sales people have no clue about the RV lifestyle.

    Heck, many RV techs have no clue how to repair an RV yet there they are working on them. :( It would take too long to explain how I know many dealers are using newbs to work on rigs....



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