Would you buy a car from these women? Yes!The Renault Samsung Motors branch office in North Ilsan, Gyeonggi province, is very much different from other car showrooms across the country. For decades, the car sales industry has been dominated by males. The employees at the Buk Ilsan office, which opened earlier this month, are predominantly female.
Indeed, 10 out of 11 employees there are women whose sales strategy is to target moms and young women who live in or near the newly developed city.
Wearing white gloves, the employees of the North Ilsan branch stroll through apartment complexes, passing out promotional flyers.
Many of the clients here are women who have been attracted by the distinctive, white-gloved sales technique.
“Most of the residents in the new town areas are newly married couples,” says Yoo Seong-ae, the branch manager.
“In the past , it was the husband who asked a lot of questions when a family was buying a car, but today it’s the wife,” Ms. Yoo continues.
“A salesperson should be able to see and to know what their female customers really want.”
For that same reason Ms. Yoo handpicked the rest of the North Ilsan branch office employees, feeling that women salespeople can attract more women clients.
The newly recruited members of this office have their own specialty tactics. Kim Gyeong-seuk, whose husband is a car repairman, exhibits expertise about engines: She can talk about carburetors and crankshafts.
“When selling a car, it’s important for a person to easily explain the vehicle’s distinctive features and characteristics to customers,” Ms. Kim says. “I have my own ways of explaining a car’s capabilities to female customers.”
Ms. Kim adds that since there are more than 20,000 parts in a car, a woman’s attention to detail is necessary in selling cars.
Park Young-hee’s strategy is to focus on sensitivity. “Customers nowadays know as much as a salesperson. Therefore, instead of simply laying out information that a customer already knows, a salesperson needs to concentrate on how to make a customer feel comfortable.”
Lee Geun-woo, the only male in the office, says that at first he was really surprised when he was sent to the North Ilsan branch.
“It felt awkward,” Mr. Lee confesses. “But these women showed the same enthusiasm in their jobs that a man would. I think someday soon women will be greeting customers at car showrooms everywhere.”
Not long ago, Kim Sun-young, 25, was recruited by Volvo Korea in Seoul’s Hannam-dong. Soon she had sold five luxury vehicles, which cost between 50 million won ($42,000) and 70 million won each. For her successes, Ms. Kim received a 4 million won incentive.
“The era of men dominating the world of car sales has ended,” Ms. Kim says. “From now on, a marketing strategy that meets current sales situations is necessary.”
Ms. Kim and others believe that it is the wife who holds the purchasing power in a family, and therefore more saleswomen are needed to approach female customers. Of the five employees hired by Volvo Korea this year, three are women.
“When I first started, there were a couple of male customers who questioned my ability,” Ms. Kim says. Some customers even asked her to turn the phone over to a male employee. A few prospects wondered if they would get proper service after purchasing a car. What happens, they asked, if Ms. Kim quits her job and gets married? Who will take care of me?
“I’ll never quit,” Ms. Kim insists. “Because a woman has a sensitive approach to female customers, she can achieve a better sales record than a man.”
by Choi Ik-jae