By the time you read this, Rob Willoughby will have sold his 1,000th vehicle at Steve Marshall Ford in Nanaimo.
That number alone is pretty remarkable but Rob has done it in only six and a half years. On average, a salesperson completes 7.5 transactions per month, or 90 per year. That means it would take the average salesperson more than 11 years to do what Rob has done in six and a half.
“He is my all time favorite sale consultant. Rob treated us with a great deal of respect and has a great sense of humor. He was smart enough to know, if he didn’t get past me it wasn’t going to happen!”
-Karen & Kenneth Scott
Naturally, I asked him how he accounts for this success. “Experience is important and I love what I do. I’ve been in the business for 23 years and I still love coming to the dealership every day.”
“We enjoy dealing with one particular sale consultant. He listened to us and remembers it! Rob represents his product well, without knocking the competition.”
–Gordon & Bobby Ruckle
Rob’s family arrived in Canada from England in 1976 and settled in Calgary. He was employed at 16, working in the warehouse of a stereo and electronics store where his sales talents soon emerged. His employer quickly moved him from the warehouse to the sales floor where he was soon outperforming seasoned veterans.
“Rob has gone out of his way to help us with what we needed!”
–Maryna & Hendrik Putter
In time, that led to sales positions with auto dealerships in Calgary before he decided to head farther west. Calgary’s loss was our gain.
“When I came here I was a GM man from Calgary. I had never sold a Ford in my life but I felt immediately comfortable here at Steve Marshall Ford. This is a very professional, businesslike company but there’s a real feeling of ‘family’ here that makes coming to work a pleasure.”
“Rob has been able to achieve this great milestone all the while putting the customer’s needs and wants first. His quirky English style allows him to relate to all walks of life which creates a great buying experience with Rob. His continued after-sale service allows him one of the highest repeat and referral business I’ve ever seen. Rob is a large part of the Steve Marshall Ford experience!! Congratulations on a huge achievement!”
–Dale Geddes, General Sales Manager
But we all know that a trip to a car dealership is not something people look forward to. I asked Rob how he deals with skeptical customers.
“You’re right. A trip to a car showroom has been compared to having a root canal at the dentist. But it shouldn’t be like that. It’s a challenge that I welcome. I like to break down those barriers, put people at ease and try to find out what their real needs are. I never make a promise I don’t keep and I stay in touch with my clients. When people know they can rely on your word, you form a kind of bond and they’re comfortable coming back. again and again. It’s a snowball effect. About 40% of my sales are repeat business and, in fact, I have one customer who is on his sixth vehicle right now. The other essential to being effective is to believe in the product. I believe Ford is producing great cars and trucks. Our quality and reliability is second to none with J.D.Power quality rankings equal to Toyota and just a few days ago the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada named the 2009 Ford Flex ‘Best SUV/CUV in the $35K- $60K category.’ And I know my confidence in the product comes across when I’m talking to customers.”
Nowadays, people are turning more and more to the Internet to get information before they shop for a vehicle. I asked Rob if this has changed his approach. “Not really. In fact, customers sometimes come here with incorrect or inaccurate information. That’s particularly true of truck sales. I pride myself on having extensive product knowledge and I try to guide the customer in the right direction. For example, if they want towing capability, it’s important to get the specifications right … what is the right engine, heavy-duty suspension, towing package and even the axle ratios. I refuse to sell a customer a vehicle that I know will fall short of their needs and I think they respect that.”
“What can I say about Rob Willoughby? He truly is an inspiration as a sales professional and a joy to watch as he enjoys his “job”. I love to hear his customers laugh with Rob and truly like their buying experience. I’m amazed at how many people come back to buy a second, third and more vehicle from him and / or send their friends and relatives to meet this English bloke. He is always raising his bar at doing the “job” better and with a more interesting flair to make the whole experience for his customers not only fun but informative and in the end a good deal. I am very proud to have Rob part of our Ford Family! Congratulations Rob!”
–Dealer Principal, Ann Marie Ebdrup
There’s a commonly held belief that the salesperson quickly loses interest in the customer once the sale is made. I asked Rob how he deals with that. “We have a great service department here and they provide tremendous support for me. We work together. And I let my clients know that I’m still here for them if they have any issues. But there’s more to it than that. I wouldn’t be this successful without the total support I get from the dealership. From the owner all the way to the staff out back who wash the cars, it’s a total team effort. Again, it’s a matter of trust and integrity and following through on promises.”
From that first sale of a 1996 Windstar six and a half years ago, to his one thousandth, it seems pretty clear that Rob enjoys every minute of it. “I love meeting people, overcoming their doubts, finding out what their needs are and helping them make the right decision. It’s the whole process, and at the end of the day, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing them driving away in a brand new vehicle with smiles on their faces.”