As we have all heard time and time again, “You only get one chance to make a first impression” and that is certainly true for all types of sales consultants and especially for those working freelance in the factoring industry. Whether attending your first meeting with a prospective client or picking up a lending officer you recently met for a quick lunch, first impressions count. There are dozens of traits that are common to successful sales people such as the ability to listen, having exceptional communication skills, being persistent and persuasive, and many more. Most of these take time to develop as “soft skills” since very few new brokers come equipped with such traits when they first start out. There are, however, other characteristics of successful consultants and sales people that can have a significant affect on the first impressions they’ll make upon those they meet and these include your dress, your grooming, and, as shallow as it may sound, what you drive. In fact, in a recent report published by a Princeton psychology professor, Alexander Totorov talks about the psychology of first impressions and how they can easily be influenced by status symbols such as…you guessed it…what you drive.
Of course, no matter what you drive up in on appointments and to meetings, it needs to be clean and damage free if you are going to make a good impression on clients, prospects, and sources of referral.. For factoring brokers, your car should reflect a certain level of success, yet not be so “flashy” as to leave the prospect or client you are calling on with the impression he is being overcharged for your services just so you can enjoy extravagances. So with that in mind, we set out to identify 7 (ten) new vehicles that would top any list of cars that will make you appear successful, but not break the bank. Our buying parameters were…
- Under $45,000
- 4 doors (you’ll need seating for 4 with easy access)
- High ratings for “drivability”
- 25 mpg or higher
- Impressive design but not too exotic
Here’s what we came up with.
1. BMW 3-Series (330i Sedan)
The BMW 3-Series can be found on almost every list of vehicles that will help to make you look successful. With just over 250 horsepower, the 330i with get you to 60 mph in roughly 5.5 seconds and still log in 36 mpg. Not bad. Most BMW 3-Series will come equipped with high quality, highly durable synthetic leather called Sensatec, though some are optioned with either real Dakota leather or Vernasca leather and you definitely can tell tell the difference. Regardless, however, BWW interiors are known for their comfort, durability, and great looks.
For the young, successful sales executive, you simply cannot go wrong with a BMW 3-Series. In researching prices, we found we could build a 330i with navigation, wireless charging and hotspot, and an upgraded Harmen Kardin sound system and still come in under the $45,000 mark. This car in Alpine white is always a favorite but the 330i is also offered in Melbourne Red metallic which, when matched with tan leather, is nothing short of a stately knock out. When it comes to making an entrance in a vehicle that will make both a solid first impression with a slight oozing of success, the BMW 3-Series are a “can’t miss” choice.
2. Audi A5 Sportback
The Audi A5 Sportback is a direct competitor with BMW and, in fact, has unseated the 3 Series “Bimmer” in the “bang for the buck” category in most recent reviews and road by major car enthusiast magazines. This is a great looking car when viewed from virtually any angle and matches BMW in performance and build quality. For 2021, the A5 Sportback can be had with two turbocharged four-cylinder powertrains, both employing a 12-volt hybrid system. Models wearing the 40 badge provide 201-hp while the 45 models pump out 261-hp. All-wheel drive is standard and all A5 Sportbacks come with a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Audi Sportbacks are simply gorgeous cars with the added advantage of additional cargo space and a large rear hatch for access. Additonally, Audi’s color palette is exceptional and even offers custom color selection providing you with the ability to design your car “just right”. We built an A5 Sportback in exquisite Navarra Blue Metallic with the added horsepower of the 45 model and still came in at under $45,000 before destination charges. Understand also, this is a “driver’s car” and don’t be surprised if a short trip to the grocery store leads to a three or four hour absence seeking out the nearest winding road.
3. Alfa Romeo Giulia
With its fun-to-drive chassis, exceptional powertrain, and drop-dead gorgeous Italian styling, the Alfa Romeo Giulia will appeal to those factoring consultants that are also driving enthusiasts. The Alfa’s hot-blooded Italian flair easily sets it apart from that more mundane crowd and with a standard 280-hp turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers plentiful power, you will find you will be constantly looking for excuses to take this beauty out for a “stroll”. The Alfa Giulia is designed to go head-to-head with sports sedans such as the Genesis G70, BMW 3-Series, and the Mercedes-Benz C-class and it does so with ease. But, be careful. The Giulia’s sharp handling and its performance will turn those typically mundane trips to visit clients and networking events into excursions you may enjoy a little too much resulting in consistently late appointments.
Alfa Romeo has decreased the Giulia lineup from five to three available trims for 2021, starting with the new entry-level Sprint model. The mid-range Ti and top-spec Ti Sport both receive new standard equipment and both Ti models now come with a panoramic sunroof and in-dash navigation. In spite of the fact that Alfa offers an impressive selection of colors, we believe all Alfas should be “Alfa Racing Red” and opted to build this car selecting the mid-range Ti configuration and in striking Alfa Ross with tan leather and still came in below our $45,000 thresh hold.
4. Mercedes Benz C-Class
The C-Class Mercedes is available in sedan, coupe, and convertible models and although the current generation is nearing the end of its life cycle (due for an update next year), it still has plenty of modern technology, and its interior and exterior designs are still top rate. Unless you desire an open-air experience or the extra style of the coupe, the sedan is the most sensible and satisfying of the C-class models. The C-Class comes standard with rear-wheel drive and of the many available extras, we’d consider the $1500 “Premium Package, which adds SiriusXM satellite radio, an upgraded audio system, and ambient lighting. A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers all C300 models and generates 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, getting the Mercedes off the line without delay. A nine-speed automatic transmission performs shifting duties. Thought rear-wheel drive is standard, you can get all-wheel drive for a few thousand more.
The color palette for this line of Mercedes is not extensive but we built a beautiful C-Class in Indium Silver Metallic with black MB-Tex faux leather for just over $43,000 and adding a panoramic sun roof for a $1,000 more still kept us below our $45,000 ceiling.
5. Stinger GT-1
Despite its “common man” brand name, the 2021 Kia Stinger offers the performance, features, and desirability to go up against the best of the German sports-sedan stand outs. This four-door cleverly disguises its hatchback and large trunk with a layout similar to that of the sleek Audi A5 Sportback and BMW 4-series Gran Coupe. Inside, the Stinger offers near-luxury accommodations and a host of connectivity features such as touchscreen infotainment with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can order a Stinger with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder but we’d recommend the more powerful twin-turbo V-6 engine that’s offered in the two GT models. All GT Stingers include Brembo brakes which provide exceptional stopping power and while the Kia Stinger will not pump your driving enthusiast blood past the boiling point as will the Alfa Guilia or BMW, with the optional v-^ it is a solid contender in this group.
This is a roomy sedan but color selection is limited. We did, however, managed to build an attractive V-6 Stinger with genuine leather interior for under $45,000.