Professional Community for Automotive Marketers, Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
What was yours like?
I started selling cars in the summer of 1974 at a single point Plymouth Dealership in Canton Ohio, Canton Plymouth. We advertised as the “World’s Largest Exclusive Plymouth Dealership”, which probably was true due to the fact there were at that time only about 40 other dealerships in the country that just sold Plymouths, without the Chrysler line up as well.
My “training” pretty much consisted of trying to listen in to guys that were about 90 years old talking to customers, watching an 8 millimeter film by Vince Lombardi called “Make That Second Effort” and reading a book by Frank Bettger called “How I raised myself from a failure to a success in selling”. I was shown where the cars were, the keys and jumper cables. I also was told to “Close early, Close often, Can I help ya, would ya take, are you buying today and low ball them if they weren't.
My first actual sale took place after making about 500 very cold phone calls out of the local phone book with a “pitch” that went like this; ” Hello is this Mrs. Abbot? She says yes... So I say, “Your new Fury is ready for delivery, is tomorrow morning or afternoon better for you to stop in and pick it up?” she would say,”I didn't buy a Fury!” My reply would be, “Oh, I’m sorry, well as long as I have you on the phone…" etc. Guess my manager wanted me to get over the fear of making phone calls, I was the youngest salesman on the floor by about 25 years it seemed.
I totally messed up the next 10-12 customers by saying or doing something stupid until... Reverend Right [Not real name] walked in one morning.
The good Reverend Right was holding two things; a Bible and some information on the 1974 Plymouth Valiant. At this point in both my selling life and personal life I was pretty much useless with anyone over the age of 40... That mixed in with a man of God really had me trembling.
Reverend Right picked up on the fact that I was new to selling cars. This was mostly due to that also being part of my training... Tell every customer you’re new for a couple of years! So, he tried his very best to make this easy and calm me down. This transaction started at about maybe 10 in the morning, as I recall. Just 7 short hours later, the Reverend was driving home in his brand new 1974 Valiant.
I was pretty pumped up! I went into the sales office looking at the sales board, located my name at the very bottom and took the chalk into my hand and put up my first 1 next to my name. I didn't really even care that the deal was a “mini” and my commission was $20 bucks, I was now officially a Professional Car Salesman!
I know this blog is titled "My First Sale" and the First time in anything is pretty cool and memorable... Probably shouldn't go any further with that line of thinking. But there is one other deal of the nearly 2000 cars I sold in my 5 years on the floor that I want to share with you all.
January 1979,my wife was pregnant with our second child [Erica] and by this time I had become a pretty good salesperson. I sold a lot of cars and trucks and made a few dollars. As I recall, it was early in the morning and I was always either on the phone, in service, on the lot, or at the door. On this morning, I was walking the lot when a car pulled in and... Nurse Hatchet [not real name] got out of her car. Now, I know if you have sold cars for any amount of time at all, you come across a “difficult” client from time to time. I will put Nurse Hatchet up against any that you ever had! Once again, a 7-8 hour ordeal, that got to the point of her and I just seeing who could be more nasty to one another. I would be “winning” for 30-45 minutes, amazing her with my brilliant salesmanship [total lies and baloney], but then she would make a comeback and take the lead for the next hour or so. Telling me what crooks sleazy car salesmen are, and asking me how could I sleep at night, etc.
This literally went on for hours, she wouldn't leave and even though my manager told me to kindly ask her to take her business elsewhere, I was for sure going to SELL Nurse Hatchet a car! We had the car picked out, the price was settled [another mini], when she pulls out a check and pays for the car in full. I get it all cleaned up, and as I hand her the keys she says, "You know, young man, you didn't SELL me this car... I bought it!” I felt my face get red, and said back to her, “Well it was my pleasure and happy depreciation.” Then she left... End of story ...Ummmm no!
Let’s go back to my wife being full term with our second child.. When she went into labor, I leave work and take her to the hospital. We are in the delivery room when guess who walks in? Yep... Nurse Hatchet! I nearly fell to my knees and babbled something like, "please this is my wife and my baby, I’m just a regular guy, I sell cars to provide for my family and if I offended you, I’m sorry!" and go on and on... She was very cool, very calm, told me not to worry... She was a PROFESSIONAL.
The delivery went fine... Mom and baby being all good. The good Nurse, upon leaving, reminded me that now not only did she buy the car from me, and I didn’t sell it to her... But that I also didn't deliver my child, she did!
Those are mine, if it was your first sale or a very unique one… Please share it with us. Keep it clean… I’d love to hear them… Memories are pretty cool in our business, let’s share some.