Selling In Challenging Times

Declan Gaule, MFG Director, shares detailed insight into the team's recent successes in South Africa, highlighting the flexibility of the MFG training programmes and the continued ability to generate sales - whatever the challenge.

One of the many great things about working in the car industry is that it can take you to some of the most interesting places the world has to offer and there are few more diverse than South Africa.

Like many first time travellers to South Africa, I was somewhat nervous but also greatly excited by this beautiful country, its diversity and by the chance to learn if the MFG approach would work 6,000 miles south of London!

The South African automotive industry sold 361,289 cars in 2016 - roughly equivalent to the auto market of Sweden - and shares most of the same makes and models that we are familiar with in Europe.

BMW Group South Africa’s dealer network comprises 52 BMW and 14 MINI franchises with the vast majority arranged around the three major conurbations of Gauteng (Johannesburg), KwaZulu Natal (Durban) and the Western Cape (Cape Town).

Many of these retailers are equipped in the same way as their European and American counterparts with state of the art premises, built on enormous floor plans and containing every conceivable product available to view and purchase.

Like all of the automotive markets we have been fortunate to work in, growth and continuous development is the name of the game and South Africa has its own magnificent array of unique political and economic challenges to add into the mix too.

So, what was our brief?

‘We have great products, great people and great facilities and are performing strongly, but we must explore all options for growth and excel in our challenging economic climate. So, what have you got MFG…?'

After some head scratching and a few pilot events we felt we had a programme that would not only spike sales instantly but leave a real, tangible and repeatable training legacy for all Sales Executives across the country. 

The Solution – ‘Selling in Challenging Times’ 

We would design and run a hybrid version of the traditional MFG Appointment Solution package - taking into account the myriad of local market nuances such as language, ownership profiles, finance packages, skill levels, logistics, economic conditions and so on - and run a two-day MFG programme in every BMW & MINI dealer across SA in just 12 business days!

We also needed to ensure that we adhered to the values and customs of Ramadan.

Initial focus was on preparing Sales Executives for the new world of automotive retailing where prospecting is not a nice-to-have but a must-have. Then we would look at other areas they could develop including qualification, negotiation and closing in a tough market.

Both days also featured at least 4 hours of calling from each Sales Executive to live customers. Well, it's an MFG event so it would, wouldn’t it!

The Results

Did it work? Yes, yes, yes!

The dealers loved it and so did we. Although many of the concepts (particularly the MFG approach to prospecting) were new - or at least different - they fully embraced and used them magnificently with many Sales Eexecutives converting one appointment from every four calls. On a par with the best of the best!

Over 12 business days, MFG trained over 1000 BMW & MINI Managers and Sales Executives and helped to generate over 2300 genuine and incremental customer appointments in just four hours at each dealer! 

This helped each retailer to:

  • smash their Qtr. 2 target with respect to new and used retail units sold
  • grow market share
  • spike F&I sales
  • retain PPU

and, because of the training approach, we left them with a sales force that can continue to drive showroom footfall professionally and profitably in our absence. 

Thank You

I would like to thank BMW Group South Africa whose support throughout was exemplary, the hardy band of MFG back office staff who lost hair and sleep planning this project and also a big thank you to our expert trainers for their unyielding dedication to the cause, lack of sleep, time away from home and relentless travel across this vast country. 

Would we do it all again? In a heartbeat!


"I would like to extend my gratitude and thanks to you and your team for this MFG Appointment Initiative. May I also commend George and Bob for their professional approach, their skill and their personalities!! It was great having them here, and my team and I greatly appreciate their efforts, and we are looking forward to having them here again soon!"

MARIUS DU PREEZ, Group Financial Director, Dealer Principal, Leo Haese BMW Centurion