RV sales people: Which customer service approach wins the sale?

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By Keith Ward
I’m shopping for my very first RV (gulp). That means tons of Internet research, including forums, YouTube videos, etc. It means budgeting, and not buying more RV than I can afford. It also means talking to multiple RV sales reps. And boy, they are not all the same.

Just as there are large differences in the types and quality of RVs available, there are similar differences in RV sales reps. I’ve been working with two reps in particular, representing the top contenders for the travel trailer I’m going to get.

I’m shocked at how different the reps are, and how much better one is than the other. Let’s start with the poor rep, “Bill” (I’m going to use fake names to protect the innocent – and the guilty). Bill works for an RV dealership that carries numerous brands. He knows – or should know, based on our initial contact – that I’m a serious prospect.

RV Sales Rep Bill

You wouldn’t know it from Bill’s indifference toward me, however., that I’m a serious prospect. I’ve asked him several questions, and have waited multiple days each time for an answer. The first few questions, in fact, were never answered, and I had to reach out to him to get answers. He responded that he’d “overlooked” my questions. Not good, Bill.

The next time I asked him questions… well, Bill still hasn’t responded, and it’s been a week.

RV Sales Rep Jack

Now let’s move on to “Jack.” Jack works for a smaller manufacturer that has a good reputation. I’ve asked Jack a handful of questions, and don’t think I’ve ever had to wait more than an hour for a response. Jack even gave me his personal cell number if I couldn’t get through on the regular number.

When Jack didn’t know the answer to a question, he said he didn’t know, and pointed me to resources that could help me. Jack didn’t push the sale at all, but he didn’t have to. His responses told me a lot about both himself and the company.

So there’s Bill, and there’s Jack. One is too swamped or uninterested to engage with me. The other shows genuine interest, and gets that potential customers have questions that need prompt answers.

This also gives me clues as to which is more likely to take care of me after the sale. As every RV owner knows, things go wrong with these mobile dwellings. If Bill can’t be bothered to respond to simple emails about the sale itself, what are the chances he’s going to go to bat for me when I need repairs?

Now, given these factors, who do you think got the sale?

Things That Matter

Look, I get that RV sales reps are busy these days, with sales exploding. But I’ve had two diametrically opposed experiences with Bill and Jack, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. If you’re in the sales side of things, you should know that these interactions matter. A lot.

If you’re looking to buy an RV, like me, pay attention to how you’re treated, and what signals that might be sending.

Jack, I’m looking forward to seeing you when I pick up my RV. Bill, I hope you learn something from losing a sale.

(What have your experiences with RV sales reps been like? Let me know in the comments below!)

Related Articles:

Keith is a journalist with more than 30 years of writing and editing experience. He was bitten by the RV bug in 2020, and takes delivery of his very own rig in May 2021. In addition to non-fiction, he also writes fiction, including fantasy, thriller, and drama. Find his books at https://www.amazon.com/Keith-Ward/e/B00HU64HAG.

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Deborah Mason
2 months ago

When we bought our current RV (2011) Coachmen Mirada 29DS we had been looking for something as short as possible without giving up important (to us) things. My husband did a lot of research & comparison online as well. We went to some RV shows, a few dealerships, in search of that combo. Turned out you couldn’t get dual pane windows in any Mirada 29DS on any lot in Colorado. So we ordered from a dealer near Elkhart to get what we wanted. They did a good pre-delivery inspection – so good it had to go back to Coachmen to fix the main slideout before we ever left to get it. They took us through every system & had no issue with me videotaping the whole orientation. It all went smoothly. We never go back to any sales person who fails to listen or treats us with less than full attention & respect.

Abe Loughin
2 months ago

I’ve not had your same experience with RV shopping. I’m fortunate to have had good interactions with RV sales people. How ever did have similar experience while shopping for a motorcycle. I had decided on a particular model Harley. There were 7 Harley dealers within a 50 mile radius. We rode to each of them on our Honda’s. Only one treated me like they really wanted to sell a bike. They realized that gone were the days Harleys sold themselves. More importantly was the respect they showed my wife. You see she rides her own bike. Even though they knew I was the one who was going to be getting a bike they talked her into test riding a Sportster while I test rode the bike I was interested in. When we got back 2 salesmen spent about half an hour debriefing her. After hearing all the reasons she didn’t like the Sportster, they recommended a different model, she rode it and loved it. In a period of 6 years between the wife and me we bought a total of 5 brand new bikes from that dealership.

Frank R
2 months ago

I bought my latest Class C RV last year. I went to a local dealer, who was very nice and accomodating, but they didn’t have the floor plan that I wanted. I did a lot of research on the internet and found the brand and models that were what I wanted. I used a national listing service and watched for those models. I found the perfect unit in Texas. I emailed the dealer asking my questions about the unit, but the dealer wanted my cell phone number which I was reluctant to give. When I declined, he refused to answer my questions or respond to further contacts. I eventually posted my story on Yelp with the experience that I had.

A couple of weeks later, I found the same model and year, cheaper with less miles. This dealer promptly answered all questions. I arranged for a RV inspection service to review the unit with no issues. I bought the unit over the internet and flew out to drive it home to California. I have been happy with my purchase ever since.

Bisonwings
2 months ago

My view of this narrative is a 30 something that has grown up with the internet and it’s “”instant”” answers to whatever questions they have.
Instead, consider Bill, his boss has told him that he has to sell these particular units that are still in inventory,”high end motor homes”, because they have been in inventory longer than the whole rest of the remaining fleet and they are costing the dealership big bucks a day in interest every day that they sit there. AND “Oh yes, Bill, the service manager is leaving on vacation tomorrow and I want you to fill in for him while he is gone. And while you’re at it make sure that the showroom is picked up and looking good for tomorrow’s presentation of that new line of adventure trailers we’re looking at offering.
And Bill, yesterday there were 2 different couples that had to wait too long for you to show them around the lot. I noticed that you were on your computer while they were waiting. I don’t want that to ever happen again. Understand?

Sink Jaxon
2 months ago

The ones I despise the most are the ones who assume who are or what you want, the ones who have you “pegged” as you step onto the lot. I’ve bought 6 RV’s, 3 boats and many cars and trucks in my life. I’ve learned to research, come prepared and try to know more about the product than the sales person would know. I won’t show any disrespect, after all they’re just trying to make a livin’, but I will not be disrespected myself. And on more than one occasion I’ve asked for a different sales person, or to talk directly to a manager. All in all, knowledge is power… and it will usually give you the upper hand.

Alex Davie
3 months ago

We bought our Mercedes Sprinter/Winnebago/Itasca Reyo motorhome in 2015 on a whim from a dealer in California…we live in a stick-built in Georgia…
we had both been camping as children…but we were complete neophytes when it came to RVIng…the brand-new Winnebago worked flawlessly on it’s inaugural trip through California and all the way back to Georgia…
yeah, we had problems once we were back in Georgia so like all neophytes, we took it to our Camping World affiliate for repair under warranty…
after six weeks of no action, we took it back and completed another fifty day trip…

.we are now scheduled in Winnebago at Forest City to fix all the problems under our extended warranty prior to our extended warranty expiring due to mileage…
Yum Yum…

Harris
3 months ago

Many years ago, we were interested in purchasing a class B motorhome. Went to a local RV show, spoke to a salesman from a dealership about five minutes from our home. Fast forward to the next weekend…went to our local dealer, spoke to the same salesman who gave us the brush off. Would not allow my husband to test drive a vehicle and stated that we would have a problem obtaining a loan for an RV. The words loans and financing never passed our lips. Went home and called the next closest dealership about two hours away. Spoke to a salesman who had a model ready for us to try the next day. Drove out to Ft. Myers and ordered it on the spot. To rub salt into the wound, I spoke to the manager of our local dealer and relayed our experience with his salesman. He sputtered a lot and did not know what to say. A nice sale lost because of assumptions and arrogance!

Ellen
3 months ago

The third type of salesman is someone who expects you to sign a deal TODAY. We ran into one like this in CA. If you’ve seen the tee shirt that says, “Be Nice To Me or I’ll Put You in My Next Novel,” then you know what happened to this particular fellow — he ended up in the first chapter of my latest novel and not in a positive way. We ended up buying an RV at a different dealership and were happy with that place; unfortunately they folded within a month 🙁

Patrick Granahan
3 months ago

I spent over 35 years in “sales”. The first 22 years were invested in building a sales relationship with business owners. The products I represented created a profit flow for their business and their customers. We were partners in profit. The same was true in my next endeavors it was the same….college business courses taught me one very important rule…a great salesman is in fact a great problem solver….all buyers have a problem…in the case of a RV shopper their problem is simple and yet complex….they need a RV that fits their needs…not too big….not too small…it must fit their life style….the salesman (problem solver) must guide the buyer through the maze of RV choices and give him what he wants….not what the salesman wants to sell.
when shopping for a RV first shop for the right salesman (a honest problem solver).
He will find your perfect RV.

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
3 months ago

Great info and advice, Patrick. Thanks! 🙂 —Diane at RVtravel.com

Captn John
3 months ago

I’ve bought my last 5 from 1 dealer and 2 salespeople that work there. Good prices and service. I know them and they know me. If I’m there I’m ready to buy. I know a service writer and 2 techs. They know my voice on the phone and my face. I’ve never had to wait more than 3 days for service, I may have jumped ahead of you in line. I stop in for stuff at times and have taken them to lunch. CW in Myrtle is great and Sean K and Susie in sales, Bradley in service. They have saved me a lot of money too.

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago

I like the picture you posted of a salesman. Looks like a typical sleaze willing to say whatever it takes to get you to sign.

StevenG
3 months ago

A sales person is just that, someone pushing a product, and I never rely on them for my decisions, I do my research before I hit the lots. As for service, I’m an RVer that actually travels in my RV, so I will only buy a brand that has nationwide authorized Service Centers. With our current rig, I travelled across 3 states to get the best deal, and have never returned to that particular dealership. I’ve gotten any necessary warranty work done as we’ve travelled, by authorized dealers, in several different states.

Drew
3 months ago

I agree with Bill T. Also, I hope you haven’t chosen anything from Thor or Forest River.

Lisa Adcox
2 months ago
Reply to  Drew

We have a Forrest River and love it.

Jim Thomas
3 months ago

The sales rep is just one piece of the RV buying/owning experience. A great sales rep is nice, but that doesn’t mean the service department is any good, or they won’t fight you tooth and nail over warranty work. We have bought from less than stellar sales reps, knowing that the after sale support would be excellent. The sales rep likely won’t have any influence over what happens after the sale. Remember: the salesperson is only important until you sign the paperwork, after that, you have a multi-year relationship with the service department.

Bill T
3 months ago

It has been my experience that even with the best and most engaged salesperson the RV you buy could still be a piece of junk. A nice engaging salesperson does make it easier to talk to but in the end, you need to use due diligence and inspect the rig, as best you can before signing. “Sales Angels” can be pretty quick to forget you after the sale and after sales service is still a crap shoot, regardless.