Scam

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“So did your CBE get lost in the post?” I asked the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we met at The Super Clean Race for a pint of or two of Not The Sort Of Phrase You Would Immediately Associate With The Inhabitants Of The Wonderful World Of Investment.

“Must we have this conversation every time an honours list is published?” the chairman sighed wearily. “Not every time,” I conceded. “But certainly every time a member of Her Majesty’s financial services industry is honoured, it’s probably worth a quick check on how irritated you are.” “I’m not irritated at all,” replied the chairman through gritted teeth.

“You know full well I consider all the good work I do for the business community, the local community and all those other communities fortunate enough to cross my path is reward in itself – and, for the record, I believe young Woodford’s being recognised for services to the Henley economy or whatever it was is long overdue.”

“That’s very big of you,” I said. “Now, switching subjects completely, have you had any joy finding a new salesperson yet?” “Not much,” sighed the chairman. “I’ve had a headhunter stationed on the road between Cazenove and Schroders for the last few weeks but they must have some secret exit route. Why – have you got a name for me?”

“Nothing nearly so useful,” I said. “I just thought pretending to be helpful would give me a chance to whip through a survey that claims to have revealed the’ top five’ styles of salespeople motorists prefer to deal with when buying a new car – albeit a top five polled from a choice of precisely five different kinds of stereotype.”

“I don’t think I or anyone else was expecting any more nuance than that,” observed the chairman. “Fair point,” I admitted. “So you won’t be surprised to find the cliché getting the nod from barely 2% of the 431 buyers polled by the good, good people of Insurance4MotorTrade is the ‘Arthur Daley’ type with ‘the gift of the gab, who could sell ice to the Eskimos’.

“Not far behind, with about 6% of the vote, comes the ‘wide boy part-timer or backstreet trader, whose business is not a full-time vocation but something he runs on the side’, which apparently means he is ‘far more likely to be looking for profit in any way, shape or form and he will potentially tell some white lies to get it’.

“Next up, with almost a fifth of the vote, are the private sellers, with the general consensus being buying privately ends up much cheaper than through a dealership, as long as the consumer has their wits about them.” “Quite an ‘if’ though, isn’t it?” said the chairman. “All those punters who think they can do better than the professionals? We’re lucky we have nothing like that in financial services, eh?”

“Truly blessed,” I replied. “Ploughing on, in second place, with 29% of the vote, we find the ‘suited and booted male car sales professional’, with positives including they often work for reputable dealers in full-time positions, they understand different clients will have different demands and they have enough information to recommend models and negotiate great deals.

“However, their sales technique is often seen as ‘slimy’ or ‘too pushy’ and there is a suspicion they are more focused on profit than customer needs, which means in first place, with the approval of 42% of those surveyed, is the female car sales professional, on the back of their empathy with client demands and a less pressurised sales technique that allows customers to make their own decisions.

“So … anything in all that you can use?” “Well, you certainly flag up a lot of the qualities we look for in a salesma … person,” said the chairman. “Although only some we can put in a job spec and others are more, you know, taken as read. If I had to pin it down to one quality I want in a Scam sales professional though, it would be someone who will run through walls for the company. Hey – do you think that’s how they’re getting past my headhunter at Cazenove?”