The year just past was pretty brutal for the motorcycle industry, with retail sales of on-highway bikes down over 40%. Victory, however, is one motorcycle brand whose dealers others might want to study. That's because Victory dealers seem to understand that doing some basic things -- like learning customers' names and letting them swing a leg over a motorcycle -- can make shoppers happy and help close a sale.
A division of Polaris, Victory came in No. 1 on the Pied Piper's Prospect Satisfaction Index (PSI), a study now in its fourth year of how dealerships treat motorcycle shoppers.
Pied Piper, a Pacific Grove, Calif.-based market research firm, says Victory finished ahead of Ducati, Harley-Davidson, BMW, Triumph, Yamaha and MV Augusta, which all scored above the industry average.
For the independent Pied Piper PSI study, the firm sent 2,014 "mystery shoppers" into motorcycle dealerships around the country between July 2009 and April 2010 to rate staff and the dealership on how they help or hinder customers.
The study says 11 of the 14 major motorcycle brands saw improvements in overall scores, and that the industry as a whole improved across 84% of sales process activities tracked by the study.
The firm says Victory's successes involved improvements in some basic areas of interaction like asking for a prospect's name, asking for the sale, and asking for a prospect's contact information. Pied Piper says Victory salespeople also led all other brands in areas such as asking follow-up questions, addressing unique features and encouraging prospects to sit on a motorcycle.
The top-ranked PSI brands from 2008 and 2009, Harley-Davidson and Ducati, also led all brands in a number of sales processes. The study says, for example, that Harley-Davidson salespeople were the most likely to remain attentive and focused on a prospect and were most likely to address features and benefits that were specific to a prospect's needs.
Ducati salespeople were most likely to be able to answer all product questions and were most likely to ask prospects how they would use the bike, and who else might use it. The three brands that garnered the biggest PSI score improvements from 2009 to 2010 were Triumph, Victory and Yamaha.
The PSI study results suggest that salespeople were on average 42% more likely to ask about a trade-in, 23% more likely to ask about factors preventing purchase, and 22% more likely to mention features the competition doesn't have.
Survey stats suggest that most salespeople aren't getting the memo: sales staff ask for a prospect's contact information only 48% of the time, give compelling reasons to buy from their dealership only 35% of the time, and mention the availability of different financing options only 52% of the time.