“Hi Brian”

This weekend I purchased my first “new” car, by which I mean new to me. I am a millennial, after all.

From the beginning, I knew what make and model I wanted, as well as the model year range I was hoping to buy and my rough budget. I sent inquiries about various used cars I found online, some through private sellers and some through dealerships.

One of the dealerships I emailed responded quickly, which I appreciated. Until I read the email that started with this greeting: “Hi Brian.”

I included my full first name in the form and signed it again in the body of the message I sent. How did this salesman miss two whole letters in my name? Twice?

I am a firm believer in the principle of Occam’s razor, that the simplest solution is usually the correct one. And the simplest answer is that whoever responded to the email didn’t read my entire name, saw the first five letters – Brian – and assumed I was a man.

Guess which dealership I didn’t buy from – or even bother visiting for a test drive – this weekend?

Small subtleties have a large impact. They can be incredibly dangerous with customers, even if they are an honest mistake from someone who read a name too quickly. Being called Brian sent an implication that the dealership was expecting to work with a man when selling a car. It automatically made me feel out of place and unwanted, regardless of whether or not that would have been the reality if I had walked in the dealership’s front door.

We can learn from this example when selling boats. We need to be careful in everything we do and be sure we aren’t making snap assumptions about any of our customers. It can be the difference between a potential sale and a customer who is adamant about never working with you.

This is particularly important as customers are shopping online before entering the dealership – if they don’t like you in email, they definitely won’t bother taking the time to meet you in person.

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