Deals On Wheels: Vauxhall Astra super-salesman

We meet the super-salesman who’s devoted 32 years of his life to selling Britain’s favourite hatch

It’s doubtful there’s anyone in Britain who has quite as much hands-on experience with the Astra as sales manager Simon Railton. In a career that has spanned 32 years to date, Simon has sold all seven versions of the huge-selling hatchback, and so is uniquely positioned to volunteer an opinion on the current model.

• Win an Astra for a year: enter HERE

“It’s evolved hugely,” he says. “It’s a long way from the car we were selling 30 years ago – it’s totally different now.”

And there can be no doubting Simon’s expert opinion, as he reckons he’s averaged six Astra sales a month since starting out as a trainee at the now closed Boleyn Vauxhall and Opel dealer in Plaistow, east London, back in 1983.

“Add them all up over 32 years and that works out at more than 2,200 Astras,” he smiles. “That’s a lot of cars…”

Simon’s career has developed as impressively as the car itself, and after spells at two different dealers in Chelmsford, Essex, he’s spent the past 12 years working at Tony Le Voi at West Thurrock, also in Essex, where he’s now sales manager.

Ask him which is the best Astra he’s sold, and the answer is instantaneous. “The new one, definitely,” he says. “All the tech really marks it out. OnStar in particular is fantastic. It’s head and shoulders above the competition.”

• Vauxhall Astra review

But doesn’t having to learn all the features of Vauxhall’s concierge and connectivity system make the salesman’s job much harder than it used to be in the old days? “Not at all,” he continues. “You simply tailor the benefits to the customer. And to be honest, it’s such a unique system that it appeals to everyone, which makes things easy.”

In fact, Simon is generally enthusiastic about how the whole technique of selling has progressed during his three decades in the trade – and he argues the advent of the Internet has been beneficial for everyone. “When I started selling, people came to the showroom,” he recalls. “Now it’s a more transparent process – we call it consultative selling.

“At every step, the customer knows what stage they are at and what the next step is. It enhances things greatly. And of course, customers are now very knowledgeable about the car when they come to the showroom. They have researched thoroughly on their tablet in the comfort of their front room.”

• Win an Astra for a year: enter HERE

This interaction with the public is a highlight of the role for Simon, and one of the reasons he is still going strong after such a long and successful career. And selling Vauxhalls – Astras in particular – has added to his enjoyment of the job.

“You come in each day not knowing who you’re going to meet, and that is particularly true of the Astra,” he says. “There isn’t really a typical customer: it appeals to families, singles, young and old. And the new car will take that further, with customers who’ve previously considered high-end cars now prepared to have a look as they can see the quality.”

Of course, Simon’s Essex base is in Ford heartland: Vauxhall’s big rival has its HQ in Brentwood, a technical centre in Dunton and an engine plant in Dagenham. But he claims his proximity to ‘enemy territory’ has never hindered sales, saying: “It’s not a problem at all – quite the opposite. We’ve sold a lot of Vauxhalls to people entitled to Fords.”

And he’s had a few brushes with celebrity over the years. “Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters [football World Cup winners with England in 1966] were regular visitors to the dealer in Plaistow,” he tells us. “And of course they love bling in Essex – we had Amy Childs from The Only Way Is Essex in here earlier this year buying for her business.”

But as with most car salesmen, Simon’s real motivator is a love of the vehicles – so despite his enthusiasm for the new car, he doesn’t hesitate when asked to name his favourite Astra, saying: “Some of the old GSi and GTE cars were great. The Mk1 GTE was a classic – in white, it was stunning.”

And with a new version of the GSi in the pipeline it won’t be long before this super-salesman is adding to his record-breaking figures by tempting a new generation of hot hatch fans to part with their cash.

Vauxhall Astra Special

    Recommended

    Best car leasing deals 2022
    Best car leasing deals - header image
    Best cars & vans

    Best car leasing deals 2022

    If you're looking for a cheap way to drive around in a brand new motor then car leasing could be ideal - here are some great new car leasing deals ava…
    20 May 2022
    New Vauxhall Astra 2022 review
    Vauxhall Astra - front
    Vauxhall Astra

    New Vauxhall Astra 2022 review

    The new Vauxhall Astra has arrived to take on the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf
    10 Feb 2022
    New Vauxhall Astra PHEV 2022 review
    Vauxhall Astra - front
    Vauxhall Astra

    New Vauxhall Astra PHEV 2022 review

    The latest version of the big-selling Vauxhall Astra hatch stands out from its rivals in plug-in hybrid form
    8 Feb 2022
    Best used hatchbacks 2022
    Best used hatchbacks - header
    Best cars & vans

    Best used hatchbacks 2022

    We provide a round up of the best used hatchbacks - cars that are great for practicality, running costs and comfort
    11 Jan 2022

    Most Popular

    Best motorhomes 2022: the top 5 picks for all budgets
    Chausson motorhome
    Tips & advice

    Best motorhomes 2022: the top 5 picks for all budgets

    In the market for a new motorhome? Here are our top-five recommendations...
    18 May 2022
    New all-electric Volkswagen Aero B saloon to rival Tesla Model 3
    Volkswagen Aero B exclusive image - front
    Volkswagen

    New all-electric Volkswagen Aero B saloon to rival Tesla Model 3

    The new four-door VW Aero B EV could come with up to 435 miles of range and our exclusive images preview how it could look
    20 May 2022
    New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up
    Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider - watermarked front
    Alfa Romeo

    New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up

    Alfa Romeo bosses have confirmed that a new two-seat electric roadster is in the company’s rejuvenation plans and our exclusive images preview how it …
    19 May 2022