Car Shopping: A Lesson in Bridal Sales

Everything I learned about selling to brides I learned from used car salesmen.

Okay, that may be overstating things ever so slightly, but it’s safe to say that some of my greatest sales lessons to date stem from my car shopping experiences and less than a week ago, I was reminded yet again one of the golden rules of selling- whether it be a wedding planning package, or a Hyundai Sonata.

But first, humor me with a trip back in time. The year was 2004 and my beloved/paid off Dodge Intrepid was totaled just one mile before I parked my car and walked into my very last Americorps meeting. I was new to the area and short on all the basics you need when buying a car for the first time- friends who knew what to do, ample time to research and… well, a clue.

So I trudged to a local car dealership and connected instantly with a great sales rep- we were similar in age with mutual friends from our college days and he took the time to listen to my needs (as well as my sob story) and he found me something within my budget in short order.  I had nearly made up my mind when his slick manager saddled up to the table and pushed me to buy the car that very instant.  I very quickly made it clear that if he didn’t stop pressuring me that very moment, I’d take my business elsewhere. So thus, lesson number one was learned- pushy sales tactics don’t work. That lesson served me well over the years and I’ve happily passed it along to clients.

Just last week it was time to put on my car buying hat when I accompanied my husband to a local dealership. I’d like to think we were the ideal clients- we knew what we wanted in a car, yet we were open to exploring our options. Unfortunately we met our match with a salesman who listened to us rattle off our dream list (something gently used, four door sedan, great gas mileage…) and proceeded to try and sell us the opposite. For about 45 minutes. When a break in the conversation was found, we politely declined any further information and made our way to the door. When he proceeded to follow us out continuing to sell us, I had to put on my blunt pants and simply told him that we didn’t have the time to sit there and be sold something that we had stated we didn’t want. We proceeded down the road to their competitor, met a delightful woman who really took the time to get to know us and are now the proud owners of a gently used four door sedan with great gas mileage and apparently alloy wheels (I have no idea what that part means but my husband is apparently excited).

The point? Selling takes a great deal of listening before you start your pitch. The moment a bride feels like she isn’t being understood, is the exact moment you lose her. Sometimes it takes a trip to the car dealership to remind me of that.

Any sales tips you’ve picked up on the road (literally and/or figuratively)? Anyone else out there car shopping these days or want to enlighten me as to why I should be excited about alloy wheels? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding marketing and wedding pr firm OFD Consulting. She is the exclusive wedding pr columnist to wedding marketing journal WedLock magazine and is a highly sought after speaker in the wedding industry. She loves ruffle table runners and Royal Wedding Tchotchkes. To learn how OFD Consulting can assist you with your wedding marketing and wedding pr, please contact us today.

Photography Credit: David Abel

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Meghan Ely

Regarded as one of the leading wedding publicists in the US, Meghan Ely combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding PR. She has earned coverage for her clients with the New York Times, People, Brides, Bridal Guide, The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, CNN Money, and more. She is a WeddingPro Expert and long-time contributor to and